Real Estate Gets A Wellness Makeover
From offices to hotels and homes to entire communities, the real estate market is getting a wellness makeover. Now more than ever, buildings are being designed and constructed with our health in mind.
With an emphasis on clean air, pollutant-free environments, and biophilic design, this movement hopes to improve our quality of life. But a more extreme version of this trend credits wellness homes with increasing longevity.
Can your house really help you live longer? And what is wellness real estate anyway? Let’s take a look.
Real estate is being radically transformed by the wellness movement:
- The global wellness real estate market is expected to reach $197B by 2022.
- In North America, the market is worth $52B and is growing by 6.4% annually.
- There are an estimated 1.3M potential buyers each year in the US for wellness-oriented homes and communities.
Okay. But what is it? In the simplest form, wellness real estate refers to buildings proactively designed and constructed with an occupant’s holistic health in mind.
According to the World Health Organization, 80–90% of our health outcomes are the result of where and how we live. Separately, Harvard researchers found that, because we spend 90% of our time indoors, we’re surrounded by unhealthy air and toxic chemicals.
Going beyond individual homes or buildings, wellness communities that put human well-being at the center of neighborhood design are growing in popularity. More importantly, though, residents of wellness-focused neighborhoods have been shown to have higher activity levels, more social interaction, and a greater sense of community.
Merging wellness and real estate isn’t a new idea. But trademarking the words Wellness Real Estate and selling a “WELL” building certification foreshadows what’s ahead for this burgeoning industry.
More specifically, Delos is the owner of the aforementioned trademark and the company behind the WELL Building Standard. Founded by former Goldman Sachs partner Paul Scialla, Delos has raised some $237M in funding at an $800M+ valuation to redefine Wellness Real Estate™.
Following the model set forth by the LEED green building standard, Delos certifies residential and commercial spaces that comply with its WELL standard for air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. Of note, LEED is administered by a nonprofit. Delos is anything but. According to Forbes, Delos has handled 1,555 projects totaling 314M square feet in 48 countries, earning an estimated $20M in revenue last year from certifications alone.
What goes into creating a “WELL” home? Use your imagination. A few of the non-negotiables include water and air filtration systems that remove pollutants, allergens, and toxins. Next, the lighting can sync with your circadian rhythm, producing energizing light in the morning and melatonin-enhancing light in the evening. There’s even posture-supportive flooring and surfaces that destroy bacteria.
From meditation rooms and infrared saunas to vitamin C-infused showers and electromagnetic shields, the list of upgrades is long and growing. And like the broader trends in wellness lifestyle, money is the only limiting factor in accessing the upper echelon.
Living well: Residential homes, co-living apartments, high-end condos, and utopic neighborhoods have tapped wellness real estate to reimagine how we live.
Homes: In Los Angeles, the health-obsessed will find their heaven on earth in this 10,000-square-foot, $24.5M wellness house. Equipped with the DARWIN intelligent wellness platform, the air, water, and lighting are pristine. Going further, the Himalayan salt room, gym, sauna, and steam room put this place over the top.
Apartments: Haven Coliving in Venice Beach offers a more affordable version of the wellness dwelling. Starting at $995/month, this wellness-themed communal living residence includes a gym, yoga studio, outdoor meditation area, a full slate of fitness and wellness classes, and the ever-present company of other health nuts.
Communities: From coast to coast and around the world, entire neighborhoods are being built with health, the environment, nature, agriculture, and social connectivity in mind. While each development is unique, ranging from resort-like to Walden-esque, wellness communities share a commitment to fostering holistic health through the built environment.
Of note, fitness titans like Life Time and Equinox are leaning into the wellness real estate trend to expand their empire beyond the gym. While both companies have moved into co-working, Life Time is planning wellness-focused residential developments in Dallas, Las Vegas, and Miami. Meanwhile, with the launch of its first hotel, Equinox is catering to its members’ demand for more even wellness in their lives.
Because we spend the vast majority of our time indoors, it’s logical to optimize these environments for our well-being. But, like all things wellness, there’s some combination of science, magic, and marketing at play here. Worse, wellness has become an unattainable luxury good.
While multi-million dollar homes optimized for sleep sound cool, they totally miss the point. A commitment to well-being combined with emerging technologies has the potential to transform public health at scale. Focusing exclusively on high-end developments further divides the haves and the have-nots.
The hope is that the luxury wellness amenities will trickle down into more affordable developments that cater to children with asthma or older adults who have trouble navigating their surroundings. Until then, it’s more likely for wellness real estate to be defined by increasingly esoteric list of amenities tailored to those who can afford them.