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Calgary home to Western Canada’s first WELL Platinum office

CBRE embraces office wellness standard to encourage returning staff
CBRE Calgary lg
The new Calgary offices of CBRE Ltd. have received WELL Platinum certification from the International WELL Building Institute of New York.

When the Calgary office of CBRE Ltd. relocated to new space in Eighth Avenue Place last August, companies had yet to end work-from-home arrangements and variants of the coronavirus driving COVID-19 infections to new heights were still raging.

But creating an environment that its 90 employees would want to return to was important.

“We still feel like we’re better together, in three dimensions, rather than on Zoom calls,” says Greg Kwong, managing director for CBRE in Alberta.

The 14,840-square-foot premises include large quantities of natural light, good air flow, and a gathering place in the lobby where staff and visitors can mingle. The result is a hospitable welcome for people arriving at the office, not unlike the lobby lounge of a hotel or the living room of a home.

“It’s more like going to someone’s house,” Kwong said. “If the environment you’re working in is better than your home, there’s a good chance you’re going to come back.”

The effort to create an energized, welcoming environment have now earned CBRE’s offices the WELL Platinum designation from the New York-based International WELL Building Institute – the first private office space in Canada to do so, and the first within CBRE’s North American operations.

Canada’s only other WELL Platinum office space is at the not-for-profit Canada Green Building Council headquarters in Ottawa. Overall, Canada has 5,077 WELL-certified properties.

WELL’s certification program helps organizations monitor building performance and employee well-being using a data-driven approach. Performance is measured in 10 key concept areas, including air, water, thermal comfort, light, movement, nourishment, sound, mind, community and materials. Projects documentation is evaluated and tested by a third party and scored.

To obtain Platinum-level certification, office spaces must score 80 points or higher. CBRE’s offices did this through a combination of environmental and social features.

“Culturally, it promotes collaboration. It promotes flow of information and, quite frankly, reduces fatigue, because the energy in this space is way better because of the natural light, quantity of fresh air and things like that,” Kwong said.

While the tenant improvements CBRE completed played a part, Kwong also credits the high score the space received with the fact the building it’s in is just eight years old.

Eighth Avenue Place, on the site of the former Penny Lane Mall, is a 1.85 million-square-foot office complex completed in 2014. It holds LEED Platinum (core and shell) certification.

“A lot of it has to do with the building we’re in, which is a AA-class building,” Kwong said.

While being the space is achieving several firsts, Kwong says the focus is on creating a welcoming, positive work environment where staff feel energized and are enabled to perform their best.

“We don’t need another ribbon,” he said. “We’re trying to create an environment where our staff, our people, our employees have a great place to come back to work to. We’re providing an incentive for them to do that.”