Psychology professor helps create ‘healthier’ communities

A professor from the University, Rhiannon Corcoran, is working as an expert consultant for a New York based organization, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), to help create ‘healthier’ communities.

IWBI administers the WELL Building Standard (WELL), the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance the health, happiness, and productivity of people in buildings globally.

To broaden the impact of the benefits of putting people at the centre  of design and operations decisions, IWBI has now developed the WELL Community Standard, which seeks to extend these benefits to individuals not just within the walls of the buildings but in the public spaces where they spend their days. Grounded in evidence-based research, the WELL Community Standard is a district-scale rating system centred exclusively on health and wellness.

The vision for a WELL community is inclusive and integrated, with a strong community identity fostering high levels of social interaction and engagement.

Specialist opinion

As an expert in the field of public mental health and community wellbeing, IWBI approached Professor Corcoran, from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, to review, make recommendations and provide specialist opinion on the WELL Community Standard prior to its pilot launch.

Through this consultancy project Professor Corcoran has been able to apply her research strengths in order to help shape the WELL Community Standard and, in doing so is helping in the development of communities that help people perform and feel their best.

WELL was developed by integrating scientific and medical research and literature on environmental health, behavioural factors, health outcomes and demographic risk factors that affect health with leading practices in building and community design and management. WELL also references existing standards and best practice guidelines set by governmental and professional organisations.

Better neighbourhoods and communities

Of the project Professor Corcoran, said: “If we are to address adequately the more negative effects of urban living on health and wellbeing then built environment professionals need to use the findings of social science and pubic heath research in their practice.

“For this reason, I was very pleased to work with IWBI on the development of the WELL Community Standard. The answers to better neighbourhoods and communities are complex and so we must never be tempted to reduce them to simple formulae.

“The WELL Community Standard does not do this. Instead it is a broad, thoughtful, accessible and well-researched resource that professionals can use to initiate new developments or regeneration projects that have community health and wellbeing at their core.”

Rick Fedrizzi, Chairman and CEO of the International Well Building Institute, said: “Our distinguished Working Group members have been in the vanguard of leaders helping us take the next step in the healthy building movement as we take the WELL Building Standard to the community level.

“Their insight has been invaluable, and we are excited to share the resulting product with the broader market.”

Further information regarding the WELL Community Standard can be found here.

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