New Industry Standard Spotlights Health Implications

Originally published in Banker & Tradesman. By Janet Morra

June 26, 2016 – We have all become familiar with LEED certification, a third-party rating system designed to document levels of sustainability in buildings. Another new rating system has now emerged, called the WELL Building Standard, which is designed to document levels of wellness supported by those buildings. Where LEED is focused primarily on building performance, WELL is focused on occupants’ wellness and comfort.

While there are some similarities between the rating systems – for example, both are rated by the same third-party organization (GBCI), have a similar structure, rate projects as Silver, Gold or Platinum, and provide accreditation to trained professionals, there are a few major differences. Unlike LEED, the WELL Building Standard certification includes performance verification made by an authorized “assessor” who physically inspects and tests the facility. And unlike LEED, WELL performance must be re-verified every three years in order to maintain certification.

Choosing to gain WELL certification for your facility is certainly a major decision, most typically undertaken at the time of new construction or renovation. What if you would like to dip a toe into the water and find some lower-impact ways that would allow you to improve the level of wellness in your office today?

The WELL Standard is divided into seven categories or concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Each concept contains numerous features that identify areas of concern (102 in all). Here is a suggestion from each of the seven concepts for changes you can make without committing to a major renovation project or incurring major costs:

-Air: Cleaning Protocol (Feature #09). In order to maintain a healthy indoor environment, create and follow a written cleaning protocol with more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces (such as light switches and keyboards) and use non-toxic cleaning products throughout.
Water: Drinking Water Promotion (Feature #37). To promote proper hydration throughout the day (and reduce dependence on bottled water), provide a filtered water dispenser within 100 feet of all occupied areas. Clean on a daily basis.
-Nourishment: Mindful Eating (Feature #57). Promote better eating habits and reduce stress by providing dedicated eating areas to encourage employees to leave their desks at mealtimes. Provide a refrigerator, sink, microwave, eating utensils, cleaning supplies and seating for 25 percent of occupants.
-Light: Visual Lighting Design (Feature #58). Provide targeted task lighting at work areas and avoid over-lighting in general areas.
-Fitness: Activity Incentive Programs (Feature #65). Provide incentives to increase employees’ level of activity, such as subsidies for gym memberships, sports team membership or bike sharing programs.
-Comfort: Ergonomics – Visual and Physical (Feature #73). Encourage employees to use a variety of sitting and standing postures. All computer screens should be on adjustable mounts and at least 30 percent of work surfaces should be height adjustable. There are a variety of reasonably priced desk top surfaces that can be used instead of replacing the actual furniture. Seating should also be easily adjustable and ergonomically featured.
-Mind: Altruism (Feature #96). Promote a feeling of well-being and community connections by supporting charitable activities. Offer paid time off for staff to volunteer for community charities or activities. Participating in charitable team activities will also create an enhanced sense of bonding among staff members.

Clearly, there are many more ways to increase and promote wellness within your organization. The advantage to a program like the WELL Building Standard is that it provides clear direction and independent verification. At the moment, the program is very new, and in fact there are only eight certified buildings in the U.S. to date. But much like the acceptance of LEED, it is easy to see WELL quickly catching on as a way for companies to demonstrate their commitment to wellness to employees, new recruits and customers alike.

Further information about this new rating system can be found at

Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP, is a principal and partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects.

Photo by Frank Monkiewicz.

Video and social media promotion are key to design firm’s strategic marketing efforts.

BOSTON – June 16, 2016 – Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA), one of Boston’s most innovative architectural and interior design firms, today announced that the firm was honored with a 2016 Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Boston Award. MPA received the first place honor in the Holiday Digital Piece category for its 2015 holiday video entitled “Snowbound at MPA.” The award marks the firm’s ninth SMPS Boston award since 2007. The firm has also won three SMPS National awards.

MPA’s focus on video is part of the firm’s marketing strategy to promote client projects in the clients’ own words and convey the firm’s design approach and company culture as a great place to work. Since 2010, MPA has produced and posted videos promoting a variety of client projects and company activities, and in 2012, started its holiday video tradition replacing the paper card mailing. Combined with the firm’s forward-thinking approach to social media, video production has been a unique and entertaining way to communicate its message of designing exceptional workplaces for clients.

MPA’s goal for its 2015 holiday video, “Snowbound at MPA,” was to spread holiday cheer and use the video as part of the firm’s client retention and lead generation strategy. Based on its previous holiday videos, MPA knew that the most engaging videos were those with fun, story-based messages. A staff brainstorming session yielded two ideas: a movie trailer that would be the right length and pacing to capture interest online and the concept of being snowed in the office. The final concept combined these ideas to create the “Snowbound at MPA” movie trailer. MPA’s marketing team then collaborated with Good Life Productions on the production of this video. MPA received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from clients. The supporting social media blitz garnered a substantial increase in online impressions, and resulted in the hire of two new employees.

The Holiday Digital Piece category recognizes a one-time celebratory piece produced for a specific holiday. The judges found MPA’s holiday video to be a “really creative story-like video that makes you watch from start to finish. 35% click rate?! Unbelievable – the results speak for themselves.” MPA’s 2015 holiday video may be viewed at

“It is extremely gratifying to be honored by a jury of our peers in the SMPS Boston Chapter,” said Marc Margulies, FAIA, LEED AP, principal and senior partner at Margulies Perruzzi Architects. “The holiday video truly captures the personality of our firm. It helps in our recruitment efforts by illustrating what a great place MPA is to work, and shows our clients that we are more than just corporate project teams: we are fun and creative individuals. I’m proud of our marketing team for producing such a fun and highly-lauded quality piece on behalf of MPA.”

In 2014, MPA was honored with three SMPS Boston Recognizing Outstanding Communications (ROC) awards, receiving an honorable mention in the Integrated Marketing Campaign category, the first place honor in the Holiday Piece category, and the People’s Choice award. In previous SMPS Boston Awards, MPA achieved a first place honor in the Target Market category in 2012, and a first place honor in the Target Market category and the Best in Show Award in 2011. The firm also won second place in the Holiday category in 2008, and first place in the Alternative Media category in 2007. Additionally, at SMPS National in 2014, MPA received a first place honor in the Holiday Digital Piece category, and a second place honor in the Special Event category. MPA achieved a first place honor at SMPS National in 2013 in the Video category.

About Margulies Perruzzi Architects
Consistently ranked as one of Boston’s top architectural and interior design firms, Margulies Perruzzi Architects creates buildings and interiors for clients who value the quality of their workplace. The firm services the corporate, professional services, healthcare, science/technology, and real estate communities with a focus on sustainable design. MPA has designed high performance workspace for Iron Mountain, Zipcar, Boston Scientific, Philips, Cimpress/Vistaprint, Forrester Research, Hobbs Brook Management, and Reliant Medical Group. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Michele Spiewak
Rhino PR