Tag Archives: WELL

Stunning Svart Hotel is World’s First Powerhouse Building in the Arctic Circle


The future is here. Arriving in circular-form, Svart is a new building concept in the Arctic Circle that mixes modern design with innovation green building standards.

Set to open in 2021, it is being constructed in collaboration between MIRIS, Snøhetta and Powerhouse. International architecture and design firm Snøhetta is known for its bold designs, such as Under, Europe’s first underwater restaurant.

Photography courtesy of Miris

Resting at the base of the Svartisen glacier in Norway, Svart will feature breathtaking 360-degree views of surrounding Arctic terrain and glimpses of the Northern lights. Its architecture is inspired by local coastal building traditions in the form of “fiskehjell,” an A-shaped wooden structure used to dry fish, and “rorbue”, a traditional type of seasonal house used by fisherman.

The rorbue reference can be found in the hotel’s supporting structure – weather-resistant wooden poles that stretch beneath the water, and project the building out and over the Holandsfjorden fjord. Giving the hotel an almost transparent appearance, the poles ensure that the building physically places a minimal footprint in nature, according to Snøhetta’s website.


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Given the hotel’s environmental surroundings, it was important for Snøhetta to design a sustainable building – Svart is the world’s first building to be built after the energy positive Powerhouse standard by the Arctic Circle.


Founded in 2011, Powerhouse represents a collaboration in the development of energy-positive buildings, and consists of property company Entra, entrepreneur Skanska, environmental organization Zero, Snøhetta architects and consulting company Asplan Viak.

The original idea behind the alliance was that it takes more than one team to build a positive-energy building, according to Rune Stene, Powerhouse’s managing director.

To reach the rigorous Powerhouse standard, a building must be an energy-positive facility that, in the course of a 60-year period, generates more renewable energy than the total amount of energy that would be required to sustain daily operations, and to build the building, produce materials for it and demolish it.

In Svart’s case, this means that by around 2080, the hotel will have produced more energy than it cost to create and operate. It will likely meet its goal considering the building is proposed to reduce its yearly energy consumption by 85 percent compared to other modern hotels. Svart will also harvest enough solar energy to cover both its operations and the energy needed to construct it.

While other certifications like LEED, WELL and BREEAM consider environmental or social factors, the Powerhouse standard focuses solely on plus-energy facilities.

There is no other concept as challenging as Powerhouse that we know about, when it comes to energy,” says Stene. “There are several plus-energy buildings around, but they typically only account for the operational energy, not the entire lifecycle. The material embodied energy is a substantial part of the building.”


Stene states that there isn’t necessarily a certification process. Rather, a report must be gathered that details exactly how the energy budget comes together to create a surplus.

When construction on a proposed Powerhouse building such as Svart is complete, the Powerhouse alliance checks the numbers (which are open to public record) to ensure that the facility is up to its standards. Stene says that, so far, Powerhouse has completed two projects, two are currently in construction and three are in design (including Svart).

The poles of the hotel double as a wooden boardwalk for visitors to stroll in the summer, according to Snøhetta’s website. In the winter, the boardwalk can be used to store boats and kayaks, reducing the need for garages and additional storage space.?

Powerhouse can be built all over the world,” he adds. “We have trademarked the logo and concept in the European Union, the U.S. and Norway.”

The two completed projects include Kjørbo in Sandvika, Norway, a rehabilitated office building, and Drøbak Montessori school, the most environmentally-friendly school in Norway. To reach the Powerhouse standard, the team for Svart made several cutting-edge design choices, including:

  • An extensive mapping of how solar radiation behaves in relation to mountainous context throughout the year to optimize the harvest of energy
  • A circular design of the hotels rooms, restaurants and terraces are strategically placed to exploit the Sun’s energy throughout the day and seasons
  • The hotel’s roof features Norwegian solar panels produced with clean hydro energy reducing the carbon footprint
  • Secluded terraces that protect against isolation from the sun in the summer, removing the need for artificial cooling
  • Large windows to exploit the Sun’s natural thermal energy

Building an energy positive and low-impact hotel like Svart may sound demanding, but Stene notes that the cost to become a Powerhouse building largely depends on whether the building will be newly constructed or refurbished. Regardless, this energy-positive certification may just be gaining notice at the right time. Green building is exploring new directions like health and wellness and, considering that buildings account for 40 percent of global energy consumption today, we can all benefit from transforming them from energy consumers to energy producers.

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How Your Office Space Impacts Employee Well-Being



Industrial Office Area (drawing) – 3d illustrationGETTY

In the last 20 years, the modern office has gone through a number of evolutions. The early 2000s saw the death of cubicle farms and the rise of open floorplans, and 2015 brought waves of ping pong and foosball tables to offices everywhere. While office trends come and go, one thing that does not change is the impact that the office environment has on employee health and wellbeing.

A quality workspace design leads to a less stressful and more productive atmosphere. It’s essential that employers take the physical work environment of their employees into consideration. Employees need to feel comfortable and calm in their physical work settings to produce their best work.

According to the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend Report, employees also want to work in a healthy environment. Here are some findings from the survey:

  • An overwhelming majority (87%) of workers would like their current employer to offer healthier workspace benefits, with options ranging from wellness rooms, company fitness benefits, sit-stands, healthy lunch options and ergonomic seating.
  • Interestingly, employees of younger companies are less likely (34%) to be turned down when asking for in-office benefits like sit-stand desks, than employees at established companies (42%).
  • 93% of workers in the tech industry said they would stay longer at a company who would offer healthier workspace benefits, with options ranging from wellness rooms, company fitness benefits, sit-stands, healthy lunch options and ergonomic seating.

One company, ROOM, is addressing the growing need for privacy in the workplace with their phone booth, a sound-proofed, ventilated, powered booth that can give employees a place to take a video call or get some uninterrupted time to focus on work.

“We spend almost a third of our lives in the office, and in order to find and retain top talent, it’s essential for companies to foster an environment that empowers people with the right space to work, think and collaborate naturally. Seventy percent of offices today are open plan, and the open plan layout can be fantastic. But it really needs to be implemented correctly with employee productivity and happiness in mind. From offering private rooms to take a call and quiet spaces for meditation to fun, comfortable areas that foster collaboration, it’s imperative to think about building office spaces with different environments to maximize employee wellbeing. At ROOM, we’re setting a new standard for the workplace, and we believe that our phone booth offers the perfect starting place for teams of all sizes to create a happier, healthier, and more productive work environment,” says Morten Meisner-Jensen, Co-Founder of ROOM.

Office design is such a valuable business investment; there’s even an international organization that has established requirements to create productive and comfortable indoor environments. The WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) is the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness. Administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBITM), and certified by Green Business Certification Inc., the WELL Building Standard is the first standard that focuses on human health and wellbeing into design, construction and operations of buildings. According to the IWBITM, workplace design that considers air quality, lighting, views onto nature and the general layout of the interior can significantly impact on health, satisfaction, wellbeing and staff productivity.


The WELL Building Standard focuses on seven concepts of building performance: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind. Even if you have no immediate plans (or the budget!) to become WELL Certified, companies can still utilize the principles to help create a healthier environment. Let’s dive in deeper and see how you can bring these concepts to your company:


The quality of air within an office can have a significant impact on your employees’ health and in turn productivity. Research carried out by the World Green Building Council recorded an 11% increase in productivity as a result of increased fresh air to the workstation and a reduction in pollutants. Here are a few ways you can impact the air quality:

  • Implement a no-smoking policy
  • Develop green cleaning protocols and keep office clutter-free
  • Install air filtration systems
  • Maintain a healthy level of humidity
  • Add some office plants
  • Open windows


Our brains are 73% water, so water consumption helps improve sleep quality and energy levels, as well as our ability to focus, our clarity of mind, and our awareness and alertness. This, in turn, helps us become more productive at work. Here are a few ways you can help your employees increase their water intake:

  • Provide safe drinking water
  • Install a water cooler
  • Educate employees about the benefits of drinking water
  • Host water challenges


We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat,” and this saying might be especially true in the workplace. What your employees eat fuels and powers their days at the office. If you want your employees to feel energized, focused, and productive, you’ll want them eating a nutritious, balanced diet that supplies them with the nourishment their bodies need to succeed. Encourage better eating habits and food culture with these tips:

  • Improve the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Limit access to processed foods
  • Label food clearly for food allergies
  • Improve access to good hand washing facilities
  • Make nutritional information available
  • Promote healthy food options over advertising unhealthy ones
  • Foster mindful eating – create dedicated eating spaces


study conducted by the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell showed that employees seated within 10 feet of a window reported an 84% decrease in eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision symptoms. Here are a few ways to rethink your office lighting design:

  • Consider adding skylights
  • Control glare
  • Maximize natural lighting
  • Move big, bulky furniture that blocks sunlight 
  • Replace flickering lights
  • Layer different types of lighting in a workspace, such as ambient and task lighting


Our bodies were made to move, not sit all day. Employees who lead an active lifestyle are likely to be more productive. Because exercise increases the blood flow to the brain, employees will get a boost of energy and alertness. This can also sharpen their concentration and decision-making skill. A few ways to encourage movement at work include offering:

  • Open and accessible stairways
  • Shower facilities
  • Bicycle storage
  • Adjustable workstations
  • Space for physical activity


The office should be a place of comfort. The use of correct ergonomics can lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity, and reduce the severity of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are the most frequently cited causes of lost work time. A few ways to create distraction-free, comfortable environments include:

  • Ergonomically crafted work areas with the ability to alternate from sitting to standing positions
  • Provide employees with different areas to work during their day
  • Limit sound from building systems and create quiet zones
  • Create breakout areas, hot desking and informal meeting areas, and creative spaces for brainstorming


The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace study showed that people who work in spaces with natural features reported 15% higher levels of overall wellbeing. Furthermore, the respondents expressed feeling 6% more productive and 15% more creative at work. If the interior design of an office considers the occupants such as creating both breakout space and social space, improvements are found in concentration, collaboration, confidentiality and creativity. Optimize employees’ emotional health through these strategies:

  • Create collaborative spaces, as well as areas to relax and de-stress
  • Add greenery: potted plants, living walls or flower gardens
  • Design outdoor spaces (rooftop patio or staff garden)
  • Offer flexibility – give options for where and how employees want to work

The research shows how workplace design positively influences health, wellbeing, employee satisfaction, and performance. There is huge potential for improving and making a positive impact on employee wellbeing through human-centered design. By simply offering employees areas to recharge and taking their comfort into consideration, you can easily make subtle changes to improve the physical environment at your office.


Alan Kohll is the founder and president of health and wellness service provider, TotalWellness. Follow TotalWellness onLinkedIn and Twitter.

I have been working in the corporate wellness space for over 20 years. I am the founder and president of TotalWellness, a national corporate health and wellness services provider. Throughout my years at TotalWellness, I’ve developed a true passion for and expertise in all t…

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Quality Products Needed To Meet Green Building Standards Today

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Continue reading Quality Products Needed To Meet Green Building Standards Today


One commercial real estate expert offers a few ways that associations can use their office design to advance their missions as well.

Whether it’s the Auto Care Association, which repurposed a 1955 Nash Metropolitan convertible to serve as its reception desk, or the American Society of Interior Designers, which features a sleek, open office plan that earned WELL and LEED certifications, associations are increasingly using their headquarters to reflect their missions.

“For associations, aligning the space with the mission of the organization is really important,” said Thomas Fulcher, vice chairman and co-regional manager at commercial real estate firm Savills Studley, who added that members and volunteers are expecting this as well.

For associations considering moving in this direction, Fulcher offers a few considerations:

Find the right location. The appropriate address is integral to the success of a mission-driven association. “If one of the things I want my association to do is to communicate effectively with lawmakers on a national level, and they’re in St. Louis, then who’s actually talking to the congressmen when there are events and receptions?” he said. “I want my people [in the DC area] because one of the reasons I’m paying them is to make sure that my interests are protected on a national level.”

Attracting and retaining talent is another reason why location matters, whether that city is Chicago or Albuquerque. At ASAE’s inaugural Associations @ Work conference in October 2017, Fulcher remembers asking Steve Barker, CFO of the World Resources Institute, why location matters.

Barker replied along these lines: “To fulfill your mission, you need the right people, and it really is about finding a space that the right people will find is the right place to work.” To that end, associations should think about accessibility to public transportation and amenities, such as restaurants, when choosing a location.

Fit the workplace design to work styles. While most everybody used to work in a space that had office with doors that closed, Fulcher “now you look at peoples’ functions.” For instance, you ask these questions: What is it you do? Are you engaged in heads-down work? Are you collaborating with people a lot? Who do you need to be next to? And how often do you meet?

“There’s really been a lot of digging in to the actual functions being performed by people in the workplace, how they do things, how they can be more effective, how they can have serendipitous conversations that will enhance the work within the organization,” Fulcher said.

Incorporate your brand. Previously, branding in the workplace looked like slapping some newspaper articles on the wall or framing black-and-white photos of past presidents. But now, Fulcher said, “when you walk into the space, people focus a lot more on communicating what it is that we’re about.”

This can be done directly through exhibits or indirectly through artwork, but Fulcher said when people enter an association’s office, they should say: “I get it. I understand what these people are doing, why they’re here. It’s in the right space, it’s in the right building. It all makes sense; it’s comfortable and it feels good …”

What are ways that your office design supports your mission? Please leave your comments below.

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