Many educational researchers have advocated for addressing health risk behavior as a key approach to closing academic achievement gaps
For the past decade, many educational researchers have advocated for addressing health risk behaviors and related disparities as a key approach to closing academic achievement gaps among youths. According to 2017 research from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), there is a direct relationship between student’s academic achievement and health-related behaviors. Young people spend a majority of their time in various educational environments, and these spaces play a crucial role in their psychological, physical and social development.
The recent launch of the WELL v2™ pilot opens doors for more diverse types of projects, making it easier than ever to create healthy educational spaces. Many important aspects of the WELL Building Standard™ have evidence-based applications that could transform healthy learning environments and improve the wellness and well-being of its students, faculties and supporting staff members. This article provides specific examples of issues in schools that can be addressed by applying WELL features to those spaces, such as promoting physical fitness, providing mental health support and education, reducing air and noise pollution, and engaging teachers and community members. Through these interventions, educational spaces can create an environment that optimizes student well-being and academic performance, allowing them to reach their full potential.
Movement: Improving Student Achievement in Test Scores, Cognitive Abilities, and Physical Fitness
An extensive study in the U.S. has revealed that students with higher grades are more likely to engage in physical activity more frequently and play on at least one sports team, yet only 17.1% of US high school students meet current recommendations for physical activities both inside and outside the classroom.
The importance of students’ physical activity to their academic performance cannot be understated. Physical activity affects brain development in important areas that control learning and memory, attention, and coping abilities. WELL v2 helps to address this issue through strategies that bring tangible impact in promoting students to be active, both individually and collectively as part of a bigger school community.
Movement features promote active living and discourage sedentary behaviors, implemented through environmental design strategies, programs, and policies:
V01: Active Buildings and Communities, V06: Physical Activity Opportunities and V08: Physical Activity Spaces and Equipment
Schools have the opportunity to incorporate several Movement features throughout their campuses and culture. For example, a school or university can encourage healthy practices by implementing a central staircase, while also promoting social interaction between students of different classes and age groups. Pre-K and lower schools can incorporate playgrounds and sports fields in highly visible areas to promote activity outdoors. Educational institutions can also implement exercise programming led by qualified faculty or professionals instructors.
Mind: Reducing Delinquency Rates and Substance-related Risks through Positive Mental Well-Being
Although recent studies suggest that depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world by the year 2020, schools and communities have the opportunity to provide mental health education and frameworks in which students can thrive. Community engagement can play a critical role in preventing substance abuse, delinquency, and other behavioral issues. Other studies have shown that students in classrooms with access to green views through their windows were observed to have important health benefits, stress reduction and greater attentional focus as compared to students in classrooms with no windows or views looking out onto other building facades.
Schools have the opportunity to positively impact students’ mental health, physical health and academic performance through educational materials and by incorporating natural elements into the space. WELL v2 provides an improved, more comprehensive approach to combat some of these issues through mental health support and education, as well as increased access to nature.
Mind features promote mental health through policy, program and design strategies which address diverse factors that can influence an individual’s cognitive and emotional well-being.
M01: Mental Health Promotion, M05: Stress Support and M14: Substance Use Education and Services
Educational institutions can offer resources that address mental health literacy, such as information strategies for regular self-care practices, positive coping skills and connecting with local mental health organizations through monthly programs and seminars. They can also promote educational resources on management of personal substance abuse and appropriately responding to struggling peers.
M02: Access to Nature
Working with architects and designers, educational institutions can provide direct access to nature and biophilic design. Classrooms or communal spaces that have direct access to sunlight, green walls, natural materials or smart space design may provide better outcomes for students.
Air and Sound Quality: ROI Opportunities on Presenteeism and Absenteeism Rates
A survey done by the EPA suggests that more than 40,000 schools across the U.S. - nearly half of which are public schools - have poor indoor air quality (IAQ). They further found that as of 2016, one in every 13 children suffered from asthma, which is the leading cause of school absenteeism. Chronic exposure to indoor air pollution, mold and pesticides can converge to become a major factor in developing asthma, coughing, eye irritation, headaches and severe allergic reactions.
Beyond IAQ, the impact of acoustics and exterior noise pollution on students’ health and academic success has been largely overlooked. A Harvard study demonstrated that poor acoustics have both auditory and non-auditory effects - hearing loss, annoyance, sleep disturbance, stress, hypertension and lower academic performance.
The Air features in WELL v2 provide an improved, comprehensive approach to address problems of IAQ and its effects on student health. The Sound feature also addresses noise pollution by ensuring that indoor spaces are equipped with acoustics that support the learning environment and influence the number of days missed at school.
Air features support high levels of indoor air quality (IAQ) through diverse strategies that eliminates or reduces source through active and passive building design.
A05: Enhanced Air Quality, A07: Operable Windows and A08: Air Quality Education
Educational institutions should aim for minimum thresholds for harmful particulate matter and organic or inorganic contaminants often found in high concentration across different school environments. Providing simple architectural elements, such as operable windows in classrooms, can further provide access to fresh air. Another key strategy is for schools and colleges to provide educational seminars that promote indoor air improvement methods and IAQ education.
Sound Features bolster occupant health and well-being through mitigation of acoustical comfort parameters.
S01: Sound Mapping & S03: Sound Barriers
Schools and colleges can identify multiple sound zones throughout the building to ensure student and faculty comfort for a variety of activity types. For example, quiet zones such as traditional library and study spaces should be intended for focused work, wellness, rest and privacy. Conversely, mixed zones allow medium noise levels, which serves well for seminar rooms, training rooms, laboratories, student commons and multi-purpose spaces.
Teacher Satisfaction: Fostering Sense of Ownership through Emphasis on the Role of Healthy Mind and Community
Teachers and support staff at an educational institution also play an essential role in shaping positive learning experience. The school is their workplace, where each teacher needs the proper conditions to prepare lessons, instruct and mentor students. Many of these needs are not being met, and institutions that don’t support teachers’ needs or provide an organizational culture that promotes collaboration will ultimately encounter teacher isolation and job dissatisfaction.
Educational institutions that foster cross-collaboration, innovation and a strong sense of ownership ensure higher retention rates, as well as attracting talent to join the institution. It also boosts brand equity, thus promoting leadership rankings and motivating employees to work productively and contribute to their professional environment. WELL v2 introduces a diverse set of interventions that have a large potential impact, and these values become the driving force behind the new Community concept.
Community aims to support access to essential healthcare, workplace health promotion and establish inclusive, integrated community through social equity, civic engagement and accessible design.
C02: Integrative Design, C05: Health Services and Benefits, and C16:Community Access and Engagement
By providing teachers with community spaces - both indoor and outdoor - schools promote a restorative environment and encourage relief from mental fatigue, thereby improving education quality delivered to students. The Integrative Design feature calls for a holistic approach to wellness that allows the entire institution - from the administration, faculties, facilities managers, to the students and their parents- to provide collaborative input to transform the space to fit the needs of the community.
The dynamic opportunities offered by WELL v2 give educational institutions across the globe a chance to create learning environments in which both students and faculties can excel, thrive, grow, collaborate and innovate. Investing in healthier school buildings contributes to positive outcomes in our collective future- institutions must evolve so that healthy schools are the industry-wide norm and not simply an add-on privilege.
 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.0014.TO, Population ages 0-14, total.
 https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372, National Center for Educational Statistics.
 https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/pa-pe_paper.pdf, Center for Disease Prevention & Control, The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance
Vigo D, Thornicroft G, Atun R. Estimating the true global burden of mental illness. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2016;3(2):171-178. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00505-2.
 https://schools.forhealth.org/Harvard.Schools_For_Health.Foundations_for_Student_Success.pdf, Harvard Schools For Health: Foundation for Success.
http://www.centerforgreenschools.org/sites/default/files/resource-files/McGrawHill_ImpactOnHealth.pdf - Center for Green Schools, A Call for Research
 https://thejournal.com/articles/2018/05/22/high-teacher-stress-leads-to-poorer-student-outcomes.aspx , High Teacher Stress Leads to Poorer Student Outcomes; published May 22, 2018.
 Banerjee et al. Teacher Job Satisfaction and Student Achievement: The Roles of Teacher Professional Community and Teacher Collaboration in Schools. Feb 2017. University of Chicago Press.
S+B are delighted to have secured the Laboratory Furniture Package for the University of Warwick new Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building.
The £40m project was designed by Hawkins Brown Architects along with the main contractor Willmott Dixon and The Fairhursts Design Group and is due for completion at the end of 2020.
The research building will bring together up to 300 biomedical researchers from across the School of Life Sciences and Warwick Medical School to fight human diseases and will provide a world-class environment in which to train future generations of biomedical researchers.
In keeping with the high-quality standards required for the state of the art building, the design team chose to use S+B UK laboratory furniture and fume cupboards Exemplaire C frame system with mobile cabinets and Trespa worktops.
To find out more about this furniture system download the PDF Brochure from the Exemplaire C Fram page or visit our Case Studies page to discover other completed projects.
Elevaire Overhead Service Delivery System and Mobilaire flexible furniture system chosen by Leeds University
The Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS) Garstang building refurbishment contract at Leeds University has been awarded to S+B UK Limited.
S+B was first approached by Associated Architects, Leeds, to provide specialist advice for specification development and budget costings in Spring of 2018.
The supplier and product selection process involved the university visiting the S+B manufacturing plant, showrooms and offices in Manchester as well as an inspection of 2 completed installations of similar size and scope at Manchester University.
S+B then worked closely with the design team, including the M&E consultants and also AA Projects, Leeds who are the cost consultants for the project to fully detail the specification and costings for the project.
S+B has been appointed as the specialist subcontractor by Styles and Wood who are the main contractor for the project. The first phase is on site on October 19 and will be the 9th floor, floors 8,7 & 4 will follow in later phases across 2020.
These labs will be fitted out with a combination of Elevaire Overhead Service Delivery System, Mobilaire flexible furniture and Exemplaire modular fixed furniture system.
Whitehouse Scientific has been producing precision glass microspheres for calibration for over 30 years and is the highest ranking European certification laboratory for primary methods of particle size analysis.
Having filled over 1 million bottles using a unique 100 stage spinning riffler system, they are now the world’s leading manufacturer of single-shot glass microsphere standards.
The references, nearly all NIST traceable range in size from 0.1µm to 5.0mm and are available as single sizes or broad distribution standards.
The founder of Whitehouse Scientific, Dr Graham Rideal has just completed a 2 year term as Chairman of The Filtration Society.” (extract from the Whitehouse Scientific website)
S+B has been chosen by Whitehouse Scientific to fit out its new laboratory with a brief that includes all the operational requirements and a desire to create a space which will be safe, comfortable and attractive for its staff and which can be used for marketing purposes with prospective clients. The furniture system chosen is the modular Exemplaire C Frame System with suspended storage cabinets, wall units with integral lighting and the SpaceSaver Working Wall Storage System.
The S+B installation team, Gareth and Josh, started the new year with a trip to Algeria where they installed a laboratory and fume cupboard, expanding the international project portfolio.
The Project Manager was Intertek, the provider of innovative and bespoke Assurance, Testing, Inspection and Certification services.
The system provided was Utilaire with Trespa Toplab Plus Worktops, mobile cabinets and also our Ecoline Fume Cupboard.
We have received this prestigious award for our exceptional overseas sales and achieving increased year-on-year growth. Our Sales director Paul Bentham accepted the Queen’s Award.
The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the UK’s highest accolade for business success with winners selected by the Prime Minister’s office and approved by Her Majesty the Queen.
All our furniture for learning is designed and built at our facilities in Manchester. We are understandably proud that we are now being recognized not only by winning a Queens Award for Enterprise in International Trade but through our membership with COBIS worldwide for our educational furniture.
You can read more in the Halifax Courier.
It was a memorable day at the S+B factory when Her Majesty The Queen’s Representative for Greater Manchester, The Lord Lieutenant of a Greater Manchester visited the S+B factory to present The Queens Award for Enterprise, International Trade.
Also in attendance to celebrate the occasion was the Deputy Lord Mayor of Salford and his Consort.
Following the presentation, the distinguished visitors were given a guided tour of the S+B offices, manufacturing plant and showrooms.
Local media attended and various newspapers are featuring the event and Irish TV will be broadcasting a report in a couple of weeks which will feature interviews with the Directors and a tour of the facilities.
Pictured above from left to right are Craig Norris Operations Director, Mike Serridge Managing Director, Claire Connor Consort to the Deputy Lord Mayor, Paul Bentham Sales Director, Councillor Peter Connor, Deputy Lord Mayor and of course Mr Warren J Smith The Lord Lieutenant of Greater a Manchester.