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Health & Wellbeing: What are the Opportunities for the Property Sector?

As part of our engagement with clients, investors and developers across the UK, BRE is running a series of breakfast briefing events on key topics for the property world.

Our first event, held at the Whitworth art gallery in Manchester, brought together representatives from a range of organisations from the Manchester area, property owners, developers, occupiers and their advisors.

Manchester is one of the UK’s leading cities with a rich industrial and cultural heritage, and one of the most dynamic areas for property growth and urban regeneration. The Whitworth itself is a testament to how environmentally sensitive architecture can create an uplifting and inspiring place to visit, work and learn.

Attendees listed to presentations from BRE on our emerging work in health and wellbeing, and in particular The Biophilic Office, a research project to evaluate the health and wellbeing benefits of an office refurbishment to biophilic design principles. We also had an excellent guest presentation from Richard Walmsley of Peel Group, on the sustainable placemaking and wellbeing priorities at Wirral Waters, the largest regeneration project in the UK, transforming the semi-derelict Birkenhead dock system.  

We then discussed the issues of healthy and wellbeing for the built environment, and the opportunities and challenge that provides. Here are some of the main comments, discussion points and feedback from the event.


All present agreed that addressing health and wellbeing provides a significant opportunity and ‘value add’ for the property sector. There are two sides to value – about reducing the negative aspects of an unhealthy building, such as less days off sick, and accentuating the positive side of higher productivity, staff retention and morale.

“We built our business around looking after the health and wellbeing of our staff. It has made a difference in terms of improved staff retention and reduced sickness absence” said one attendee.

Do it early!

Early engagement is key for health & wellbeing. There is a positive return on investment when human factors are considered at the early stage of a project, whether that be new build, refurbishment or even a relatively light touch fit-out. That engagement should involve the client/end user and wider community engagement can also bring many positive benefits.

The need for evidence

Whist the potential for positive return on investment is recognised, there is a need for more case studies with evidence of payback over time. There was a broad consensus that health and wellbeing will payback, but a need for more quantified evidence, whether that be in terms of financial return (rental rates, occupancy, re-sale values) or human return (productivity, absenteeism, attracting and keeping talent).

More Information

You can download our infographic summary of the event below here.  HR_1156BRE-INF-Health-and-Wellbeing-Infographic-AW.pdf

For more on how BREEAM deals with health and wellbeing, download the BREEAM Briefing Paper here.

For more on BRE’s Biophilic Office project, including how you can get involved, go to