Role of Well-Being in Real Estate Investments is Explored in Europe

Throughout Europe, the well-being of building occupants is receiving increased attention from developers and investors, reflecting a movement that is gaining momentum globally.

To capture the latest trends and developments in this field, ULI Europe’s largest national council, ULI United Kingdom, published a landmark report, Picture of health: The growing role of well-being in commercial real estate investment decision-making, which says that the wave of interest in well-being is expected to translate into significant investment over the next three years.

The report is based on a comprehensive survey of leading property experts carried out to understand how health and well-being are influencing investment decisions across the real estate industry. The findings reflect survey responses from almost 100 ULI members and interviews with 17 investors, developers, fund managers, consultants, valuers, and analysts. Eighty-six percent of all respondents expect to increase their investment in well-being in the next three years, with 17 percent anticipating this increase to be “significant.”

The momentum for the trend is part of wider changes in the workspace toward flexibility and shared space, as well as companies looking for improved office environments as a way to meet the expectations of the younger generations in the competition for talent.

The survey revealed that the expected investment will largely be driven by perceived tenant demand rather than investor demand or government policy, as occupiers fight to attract and retain talent across an ever more mobile—and socially conscious—workforce.

For those surveyed, well-being investment is mainly influencing decision-making in the areas of design, fit-out, and development stages. Less influence was being seen in leasing and lease renewal activities or when buildings were bought or sold. This might partly reflect the fact that there is less evidence of the impact of well-being being reflected in values.

“The increased interest in health and well-being we are already seeing from major players in the real estate industry cements the fact that well-being is becoming central to development and investment strategies,” says Victoria Lockhart, cochair of ULI U.K.’s Sustainability Forum and director of market development at the International WELL Building Institute. “As companies seek to attract top talent, well-being is increasingly prioritized as fundamental to environmental, social, and governance [ESG] factors. Companies are looking closely at the workspaces they offer as well as how the workplace can help translate a company’s values and build a culture of health.”

  • “The increased interest in health and well-being we are already seeing from major players in the real estate industry cements the fact that well-being is becoming central to development and investment strategies.”

    – Victoria Lockhart, Co-chair of ULI U.K.’s Sustainability Forum

The report includes five case studies, including 22 Bishopsgate and the Broadgate Campus, both in London, which already have health and well-being placed at the heart of their development.

While 22 Bishopsgate may be making its mark as the tallest tower on the skyline of the City of London, AXA Investment Managers–Real Assets, which invested in and is developing the building on behalf of an international consortium of investors, has dedicated over 13,900 square meters of the 130,000 square-meter tower to shared amenities.

“We refer to it as a vertical village,” says James Goldsmith, head of leasing at AXA Investment Managers–Real Assets. “Everyone always talks about a hospitality environment and that’s a given, but we are also keen to differentiate with what we are doing.”

British Land, which is completing the redevelopment of 100 Liverpool Street in 2020, has ensured a healthier Broadgate campus environment, including introducing larger amounts of seating, new retail, bars, and restaurants as well as increasing landscaping and greenery.

“Our customers are increasingly recognizing that the workplace is a vital component of staff engagement and well-being strategies,” says Matthew Webster, head of well-being and future proofing at British Land. Our role is to support this by creating fantastic environments that promote well-being and enhance the experience of ‘work’—from the provision of engaging public realm and amenities to ensuring buildings create healthy internal environments.”

View the report on Knowledge Finder.

Find health and wellness experts in the Member Directory.

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