A 48-year-old office tower in Melbourne CBD has become the first existing building in Australia to achieve WELL Certification at the Platinum level.

The WELL Building Standard certification awarded by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) combines best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research. The premier building standard focuses on enhancing people’s health and wellness through the built environment.

Owned by private property group Kamirice, the building located at 500 Collins Street was awarded the highest-level certification under the IWBI’s WELL Building Standard.

500 Collins Street

Built in 1973, the 26-storey tower features approximately 26,000 square metres of net lettable area, and comprises an office tower with a retail plaza at ground level. The building earned the WELL distinction based on 10 categories of building performance – air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

To prepare for the certification, the building underwent rigorous testing on its air quality, ventilation, thermal and acoustic comfort, and water systems. Also introduced were initiatives such as using non-toxic cleaning products, promoting mindful eating through healthy vending machines and creating an online tenant portal to share nutritious recipes and promote mental health.

Acquired by Kamirice in 2002, 500 Collins Street went through a full upgrade to become the first refurbished office building to achieve a 5-star Green Star Office Design rating in 2007.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has led businesses to re-evaluate employees’ expectations of the workplace, Kamirice managing director Mark Ross observed.

“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.

“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. By putting tenant health and wellbeing first, we were able to invest where it really mattered.”

Several upgrades were recently made to the building with the multi-million-dollar refurbishment adding 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.

Rachel Hodgdon, president and chief executive officer of the IWBI said, “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.”

Norman Disney & Young (NDY) provided consulting services throughout.

Describing the WELL accreditation as the bookend of 20 years of work, Tony Arnel, former global sustainability director of NDY and former chairman of the World and Australian Green Building Councils, said, “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 led this Australian-first project as a WELL Accredited Professional.

“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,” Koerbin said.