Social Investing - WELL Building & Philanthropy

By Christopher C. Rising

We take health and wellness very seriously, not only within our own company at Rising; but also for the tenants and employees within each of our buildings. We believe it's just as important—if not more important—to include elements that promote health and wellness as it is to have a positive environmental impact. We recognize that our tenants' success drives our success and, as research shows, healthier people are generally more productive employees. And, of course, more productive employees are better for business.

We spend about one-third of our time sleeping and another third working. Depending on the climate of where one lives and works, it's likely that we spend almost 90% of our time indoors— and if we have anything in common, a lot of that time is looking at computer screens. The days of working with the land are long gone for most, and it just isn't natural or healthy to spend 90% of our time sitting under artificial light and breathing treated air.

Whether we like or not, this is the world that we live in. At Rising, we believe it is not only the employer's responsibility to strive to improve opportunities for the well-being of their employees; but also our responsibility as investors, operators, and property managers. Increasingly in today's business culture, employees are treated more like humans with real needs rather than machines that can work 8+ hours straight. But that's not enough, and the importance of investing in well-being is crucial. As today's businesses expect greater efficiency from their employees, it is our obligation to provide opportunities for our projects' tenants to live healthier and happier lives.

It all boils down to the employee.

Whether it's the air we breathe, the light we use, or the water we drink, each component needs to be carefully thought out in order to provide productive and healthy environments for employees. We provide well-managed workplaces that encourage healthy lifestyles—on a personal and professional level—by adhering to WELL Certified Building standards.

The 7 Components of a WELL Certified Building
There are 7 main components that WELL Certified buildings emphasize:

  • Air
    Optimize and achieve indoor air quality. Strategies include removal of airborne contaminants, prevention and purification.
    • Many of us spend most of our workdays indoors, making the quality of indoor air all the more critical. Rising focuses on both reductive and preventative strategies to improve just that. At each of our properties, we closely monitor temperature levels, recirculation times, and fresh air supply for optimal productivity and find alternatives to cleaning products with chemical pollutants. We pay close attention to our waste management and ventilation systems in order to mitigate any issues with hazardous odors and humidity levels. For example, we've added lush landscaping at The Park DTLA — not only for aesthetic purposes; but also for its role in absorbing harmful chemicals and cleansing the city environment.
  • Water
    Optimize water quality while promoting accessibility. Strategies include removal of contaminants through filtration and treatment, and strategic placement.
    • As we all know, the typical tap water from our sinks may contain less-than-desirable odors and tastes. At each property, we encourage tenants to install a water filter — such as Quench — to properly filter water and reduce use of plastic water bottles. Quench systems use advanced filtration and sanitization technologies tailored to local water conditions to remove sediment, chemicals, bacteria, odors, and off-tastes. Additionally, at 433 S. Spring, we are planning to install a live roof stormwater system that would be filtered to reuse for irrigation.
  • Nourishment
    Encourage healthy eating habits by providing occupants with healthier food choices, behavioral cues, and knowledge about nutrient quality.
    • With the busy workloads employees must tackle, it isn’t surprising that only one in five people take an actual lunch break. Yet, it’s a no-brainer that food directly affects the way we feel and perform. With this in mind, we strive to offer easily-accessible healthy food options at our properties. For example, we installed Avenue C, an “automated convenience store” of healthy snacks and drinks at The Park DTLA. Similarly, we coordinated with Fooda to bring a variety of made-on-site lunch options to our project, encouraging employees to enjoy the common-area amenities and simultaneously reduce the need to use a car to drive to lunch. It is no longer an inconvenience for people to get the energy they need to power through the day without sacrificing themselves to the usual unhealthy choices lingering in the average vending machine.
  • Light
    Minimize disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. Requirements for window performance and design, light output and lighting controls, and task-appropriate illumination levels are included to improve energy, mood and productivity.
    • Given our environmental impact strategy, we typically install LED lighting at our properties to not only reduce CO2 emissions; but to maximize efficiency, decrease costs, and minimize replacement labor. Switching to LED lights improves the indoor environmental quality and gives off a light that is similar to natural daylight. This has been proven to improve mood, enhance body health, and boost concentration and energy, resulting in a more productive work environment. At our newest project, 433 S. Spring, I'm very excited to announce we will be testing “lightwells,”which absorb natural sunlight through an upper lighting dome, reflect and enhance the light in a sun trapper, transmit the light to a diffuser, then diffuse the light to any angle of the space. Bringing natural lighting to space not adjacent to windows is the holy grail of office space activation.
  • Fitness
    Utilize building design technologies and knowledge-based strategies to encourage physical activity. Requirements are designed to provide numerous opportunities for activity and exertion, enabling occupants to accommodate fitness regimens within their daily schedule.
    • Although we can't force everyone to get physical exercise, we do actively promote the fact that physical exercise is vitally important, especially because we sit in desks all day long at work. We promote active lifestyles through quarterly events with nearby gyms and fitness studios as well as organized “stair days,” to name a couple examples. We also make it a point to underwrite the installation of showers and locker rooms and/or a fitness center. In addition, we have partnered with local gyms and fitness studios to give our tenants an exclusive trial and/or discounts.
  • Comfort
    Create an indoor environment that is distraction-free, productive, and soothing. Solutions include design standards and recommendations, thermal and acoustic controllability, and policy implementation covering acoustic and thermal parameters that are known sources of discomfort.
    • Working in a completely distraction-free environment is getting harder and harder as we move into a world where private offices are a thing of the past and the open-office environment is the norm. While we specialize in these types of office spaces, we also promote and advocate for building out private call rooms and/or sound proof boxes in offices - like Framery. In addition, our team studies and understands that air temperature and comfort of employees is extremely important for optimal performance. While I cannot say anything about this now, I will say that we are looking into innovative ways in which we can ensure our tenants ultimate comfort.
  • Mind
    Support mental and emotional health, providing the occupant with regular feedback and knowledge about their environment through design elements, relaxation spaces, creation of outdoor work and play areas whether suburban or downtown, and state-of-the-art technology.
    • If you've ever been in a Rising property, you've noticed that we activate nearly every common area possible. Whether our guests and tenants want to surf the web, get some work done, listen to hip lobby music, or enjoy a coffee with a friend or colleague, our common areas are comfortable and equipped with the fastest public Wi-Fi in Los Angeles. We work with architects to design the common areas in a way that reduces stress, increases productivity, and oftentimes gets you moving.

Going a Step Further

While some have scoffed at the fact that we allow dogs in our buildings, there are a number of benefits to the employees and those around them. Being able to bring your dog to work means that you don't need to coordinate dog sitting or rush home, allowing you to focus on your work and be more productive. In addition, dogs have been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and overall stress.

Only 1 in 5 people take an actual lunch break and 28% report not taking any breaks at all. Bringing your dog to work obliges you to take your dog outside no matter how busy you are, allowing you to have a mental break and some physical exercise.

A theme you will hear more and more from us is how we use technology to promote healthier behavior and wellness. We are developing our buildings to make it easier for people to do what is healthy and what they enjoy, while also increasing productivity.

It's as simple as this: Exercise gives you energy; energy increases productivity; productivity improves businesses' success; our tenants' successes are reflected in our success at Rising.

While building wellness is a major piece of our social focus at Rising, we also incorporate a concept known as “project specific philanthropy.” We have found that philanthropy plays a huge part in our social impact strategy. Our property management teams pride themselves on creating a “curated tenant experience.” As part of that curated experience, our team spends a lot of time identifying the unique needs of our tenants. This relationship allows us to also create a philanthropic program specifically for a project. After acquiring a project, the property management team is tasked with surveying the tenants on which charity they would like to actively support. They then create an annual plan to curate activities that promote that charity. Whether it's organizing clothing or food drives, coordinating participation in charity runs or walks, or providing volunteer opportunities, it's our team's responsibility to engage our tenants with the community.

Our success largely depends on the success of the businesses we have at our properties. If we can play a part in contributing to the success and well-being of our tenants, then we are meeting our company's mission.