HGA has experience working with the WELL rating system — the world’s leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings — whether pursuing full certification, seeking the WELL Health-Safety Seal, or to use the principles and research outlined in WELL to guide the design process. Research has shown access to daylight and nature to have positive physical and psychological benefits. Water quality, healthy food availability, indoor air quality, and encouraging movement through design can also influence the health of occupants, which is why HGA centers human health and well-being in its work.
With a focus on operational policies, maintenance protocols, occupant engagement, and emergency plans, the WELL Health-Safety Rating was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the strategies incorporated apply to a variety of health and safety issues.
“Pursuing the WELL Health-Safety Certification for our offices shows a strong commitment to our people. As a part of the certification, we reviewed the buildings and spaces we use for our work, our policies that affect the health and safety of employees, and the preparedness of our business to handle a wide variety of change and stressors,” said Sarah Berseth, Director of Operations at HGA.
HGA’s founding office in Minneapolis occupies the LEED Platinum-certified historic Ford Center. Built in 1914 and once home to the Ford Motor Company, the HGA team carried out a complete modernization of the historic building in 2011, restoring the building envelope and replacing all building systems. The four-story, 83,000-square-foot office space showcases HGA's expertise in sustainable, forward-thinking, flexible, and efficient office environments.
Private and collaborative workspaces are spread throughout the four floors with office amenities including a roof deck, a fitness center, and commuter bicycle storage. Sustainable design features include the use of low-VOC materials, under-floor air distribution for individual occupant temperature adjustment, 28 percent reduced water use beyond industry standards, and green power fueling portions of the building. The building features an abundance of natural light, including a combination of rebuilt original windows, historically compatible energy-efficient new windows, and tall windows overlooking the downtown Minneapolis skyline.
The WELL Health-Safety Rating focuses on six health-safety themes including: Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures, Emergency Preparedness Programs, Health Service Resources, Air and Water Quality Management, Stakeholder Engagement and Communication, and Innovation. The Health-Safety Rating requires a building to obtain a combination of at least 15 features from the indicated themes. In addition to the existing office features focused on employee wellness, the Minneapolis office achieved 18 of 27 possible features in six core health and safety areas. These features include supporting handwashing, reducing surface contact, emergency preparedness planning, providing sick leave and mental health recovery, assessing ventilation, managing air and water quality, and promoting health and wellbeing through communication and occupant education.