Melbourne Office Tower Becomes First Existing Building in Australia to Achieve WELL Platinum Certification

500 Collins Street in Melbourne, Australia, has become the first existing building in Australia to achieve WELL Certification at the Platinum level.

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. It is the premier building standard that focuses on enhancing people’s health and wellness through the built environment.

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

500 Collins Street earned the WELL Building 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, Tetra Tech conducted rigorous testing of 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.

The Tetra Tech High Performance Buildings Group supported Kamirice by providing consulting services for WELL Certification throughout the project.

“The WELL accreditation is actually the bookend of 20 years of work,” said Tony Arnel, former global sustainability director of the Tetra Tech High Performance Buildings Group (now retired) and former Chairman of the World and Australian Green Building Councils. “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 Tetra Tech’s global sustainability team said, “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.”

Mark Ross, managing director of Kamirice, said that COVID-19 has led businesses to re-evaluate employees’ expectations of the workplace and that this achievement demonstrates a commitment to tenant well-being, 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 well-being, for both small and large tenants alike,” said Mark. “It shows how an older, existing building in which investment has been consistent and focused—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 well-being first, we were able to invest where it really mattered.”

The WELL Certification also recognized 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,” added Mark.

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,” she said. “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.”

Kamirice purchased the building in 2002 and completed a full building upgrade. 500 Collins Street subsequently became the first refurbished office building to achieve a 5 Star Green Star - Office Design rating in 2007.

Image courtesy of Kador Group