Meet Amber Luscombe, M+L’s new WELL AP
We sat down with our new WELL accredited professional, Amber Luscombe to talk about what the WELL standard means to her, and why it’s becoming an essential part of sustainable design.
Hi Amber, would you mind introducing yourself and letting us know how you became a WELL AP?
My name is Amber, I’ve been a chartered architect since December 2018, and a WELL accredited professional since August 2020. I’ve worked in the business space sector for the last 2 and half years with a specialism in business space refurbishment.
A lot of my education and career have revolved around wellbeing, though it wasn’t always clear to me at the time! At university my research was focused on community engagement and participation to create better spaces for the local community; I’ve worked previously in the education sector where projects revolved around pushing for better design, better lighting and brighter spaces for students; which has all led to my specialism in business space, where wellbeing is more important than ever.
Even outside of work, a lot of my hobbies relate to wellbeing – I run half-marathons frequently (hoping to finally get into the London Marathon next year), practice Pilates and Kickboxing and I’m often in the gym for mental wellbeing more than anything else. I also enjoy getting out to the coast and countryside as much as I can. Finally, I launched my own blog called Project Wellbeing this year, a space for me to discuss wellbeing with other similar minded professionals, whilst also giving insight into the latest trends, research and opinion on wellbeing, particularly within the workplace.
How would you describe a WELL Accredited Professional?
A WELL Accredited Professional is an individual who works within the built environment, with a particular interest in wellbeing and has studied and taken an exam to become an Accredited Professional with the WELL Building Standard. As a WELL AP, I can assist projects in gaining WELL accreditation by supporting the team and helping to drive the design. However, it is not a role that allows me to certify/test/verify a project; a project must be registered with the IWBI to begin that process. By having the WELL AP qualification, it shows ‘expertise in the WELL Building Standard, and a commitment to advancing human health and wellness in buildings and communities around the world’.
What are the most important benefits that you believe WELL can bring, from a business + sustainability perspective?
Humans have a natural affinity to nature, and most of us know without being taught that fresh air, good daylight, comfortable & supportive seating, and the right nutrition is healthy and makes us feel good. As professionals in the built environment, we also know how to design for that and create those spaces. However WELL adds another layer on top of that, a layer that is backed by rigorous scientific research, peer review, testing, verification and certification. It’s a way of measuring wellbeing and creating better spaces for people, based on scientific measurement and fact and not just opinion.
Therefore, I think the most important benefits that WELL can bring from a business perspective are:
- It demonstrates a commitment from the business that wellbeing of people is at the forefront of their design offering
- It allows businesses to compete and have a higher change of winning schemes which require high quality wellbeing design
- In-house project support to ensure that all schemes have wellbeing design incorporated whether principles or through certification
- Having employees who are healthy and safe improves business productivity, reduces sickness and absenteeism, meaning that business can be more sustainable and therefore more likely to be profitable
And from a sustainability perspective:
- Providing buildings and spaces which are designed to be high quality for air, thermal comfort, reduction in solar gains and glare etc. So less additional resources should be needed i.e. additional space heaters or cooling systems, once the scheme has been completed.
- Better materials which are better for sustainable growth and development, as well as reducing harmful chemicals such as VOCs and formaldehyde
- Social sustainability with sustainable practices, no tolerance of slave labour and engagement with the community
- Improving occupant health – encouraging occupants to eat healthily, move more, breather better quality air, and reduce stress with access to mental health & stress reduction support.
What does WELL accreditation mean to you and why is it important to you?
As an architect, I want to make sure that the spaces I design are the very best for the people inhabiting them and contribute positively to their health & wellbeing, as well as the wider environment. Being a WELL AP is a natural extension of that and allows me to enhance my offering and understanding of how places impact people, and design spaces that improve the health & wellbeing of the end-user.
According to the World Health Organisation, the single biggest impact on human health is the physical/social environment that you live in, more than access to healthcare, genes and lifestyle combined, so it’s imperative that we contribute positively to ensure that we all have the best possible chance of living healthily and happily.
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