A highly recognised Melbourne CBD office tower at 500 Collins Street has become the first existing building in Australia to achieve WELL Certification at the Platinum level, positioning it as an industry leader in the advancement of health and wellbeing in existing buildings.

Created through years of research and development, the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) WELL Building Standard is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research and is the premier building standard that focusses on enhancing people’s health and wellness through the built environment.

Owned by private property group Kamirice, the building was awarded the highest-level certification under the IWBI’s WELL Building Standard. Completed in 1973, 500 Collins Street is a 26-storey tower featuring approximately 26,000 square metres of net lettable area comprising an office tower with a retail plaza at ground level.

500 Collins Street earned the distinction based on its performance across 10 categories of building performance – air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

To achieve this certification the building underwent rigorous testing on its air quality, ventilation, thermal and acoustic comfort, and water systems. Other initiatives include the use of non-toxic cleaning products, mindful eating promotion through healthy vending machines, and the creation of an online tenant portal to share nutritious recipes and promote mental health.

Mark Ross, Managing Director of Kamirice, said that COVID-19 has led businesses to re-evaluate employee’s expectations of the workplace and that this achievement demonstrates a commitment to tenant wellbeing, creating better workplaces and encouraging workers to return to their offices.

“500 Collins Street sets a benchmark in how existing office buildings can be transformed to lead the way in workplace health and wellbeing, for both small and large tenants alike.” says Ross.

“It shows how an older existing building in which investment has been consistent and focussed, and which has been upgraded over the years was in a position to achieve WELL Platinum Certification, without requiring top to bottom refurbishment. Instead, by putting tenant health and wellbeing first, we were able to invest where it really mattered.”

The WELL certification also recognised some of the building’s recent multi-million dollar upgrades which included construction of a high-quality end-of-trip facility, featuring bicycle parking, showers and lockers, and a new ground floor business lounge, both designed by Gray Puksand.

“When we undertook the refurbishment of the building’s communal areas, wellness was at the forefront of our decision making. With the help of our exceptional building property management team, we were able to execute this strategy and deliver an industry-leading result for our tenants.” adds Ross.

Rachel Hodgdon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the IWBI said the milestone showed an unwavering commitment to creating an environment that always puts tenants first.

“We are excited to celebrate with Kamirice the milestone achievement of 500 Collins Street being awarded WELL Platinum Certification. By incorporating WELL strategies into the existing excellent design at 500 Collins Street, Kamirice demonstrated its commitment to people first places no matter the age of the building, and we congratulate them on this achievement.” says Hodgdon.

500 Collins Street was purchased by Kamirice in 2002 and following a full building upgrade became the first refurbished office building to achieve a 5 Star Green Star Office Design rating in 2007. This achievement was recognised at the time with the building receiving a number of innovation and sustainability awards.

Norman Disney & Young (NDY) supported Kamirice by providing consulting services throughout the project. Tony Arnel, former Global Sustainability Director of NDY (now retired) and former Chairman of the World and Australian Green Building Councils, says “The WELL accreditation is actually the bookend of 20 years of work. 500 Collins Street was a trailblazer in the early 2000s with the research that went on regarding indoor air quality and occupant productivity. Kamirice has continually paved the way to make their buildings healthier and drive tenant demand by providing better working spaces.”

Hayley Koerbin, Senior Associate with NDY’s Global Sustainability Team, says “It’s a testament to Kamirice and their ongoing investment in 500 Collins Street that an older, existing building has been able to meet WELL Platinum Certification without requiring top to bottom refurbishment or significant capital investment. I was very privileged to be the WELL Accredited Professional leading this Australian-first project.”