In July 2018, Jeni Cross was selected as an advisor for International WELL Building Institute. In January 2021, IWBI released her group’s innovative report linking buildings and spaces with health and humans.

PRESS RELEASE  ·  Jan 26, 2021

International WELL Building Institute Launches Global Research Agenda

Call to action to drive timely and innovative global research linking buildings, organizations and communities with health and the human experience

(NEW YORK, NY – January 26, 2021) – The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) today announced the launch of its Global Research Agenda, an interdisciplinary global call to action to support innovative health and built environment research, to unite disciplines across the fields of health, well-being and the built environment, and to translate research into practice. The report, Global Research Agenda: Health, Well-being and the Built Environment, highlights outstanding research gaps and sector-specific strategies required to push people first building practices forward, while balancing the needs of industry, research and policy.

The Global Research Agenda represents a culmination of over a year of analysis and evaluation by IWBI’s Research Advisory. Starting in 2019, IWBI hosted global subject matter experts as part of an advisory to propel the concept of building health forward by determining how research on health and well-being can influence the future design and operations of buildings, communities, cities and the organizations that operate within them. Research Advisory members come from a variety of disciplines and experience, spanning from academic research to those who work primarily with industry, and everything in between.

“The Global Research Agenda is an excellent tool for assessing priorities in the field of health and wellness. It successfully integrates our multiple, complex needs through the lenses of a variety of discipline experts,” said Mardelle Shepley, D. Arch, Chair and Janet and Gorden Lankton Professor, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University.

“The Global Research Agenda represents a deep commitment by this international community of Research Advisors to critically evaluate the needs of the field to transform our world into people first places for everyone, everywhere. We’re grateful to this group of exceptional leaders who have worked tirelessly to help us take these next steps forward,” said IWBI President and CEO Rachel Hodgdon.

The Global Research Agenda provides a guiding document for research and industry to set priorities and advance the implementation of research addressing health, well-being and the built environment. Highlights of the report include an overview on the current state of translating this research into action; identification of gaps and opportunities for academic, policy and financial settings; and a proposed Building Health Conceptual Model reflecting the latest research trends and evidence, to help drive research programs and to support cross-disciplinary research.

In addition, impact topics have been selected for inclusion for their relevance and timeliness related to the current cross-cutting public health, environmental and social crises. These 12 topics – which will be rolled out in a series of webcasts and other events over the course of the year – include access to nature, acoustics, air quality, climate change, equity and inclusivity, infectious respiratory disease, materials, movement and physical activity, performance, stress, technology, and thriving and creativity.

“Our goal is to leverage the Global Research Agenda to catalyze timely resources, provide guidance and transformation for research and industry, and ensure continuity by providing updates as research and implementation priorities respond to new challenges,” said Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, senior vice president of research at IWBI. “By integrating knowledge and uniting disciplines under the framework of health, well-being and the built environment, we strive to establish strong partnerships between those who do research and those who implement and translate it.”

As the world’s leading organization focused on deploying buildings, communities and organizations to advance a culture of health for all, IWBI has long played a unique role as a powerful convener, bringing together independent and diverse communities to dramatically accelerate progress. IWBI established the Task Force on COVID-19 at the outset of the pandemic to help business and building leaders integrate actionable insights and proven strategies in the fight against COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The evolution of IWBI’s WELL ecosystem has also leaned on research from leading academic, industry association and public health bodies. IWBI’s WELL Health-Safety Rating, launched in 2020, is informed by guidance developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), global disease control and prevention centers and emergency management agencies, recognized standard-making bodies, such as ASTM International and ASHRAE, and leading academic and research institutions.

“If the global coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of taking steps to address and improve the holistic well-being of ourselves and our communities. We need to be proactive in monitoring patterns; forecasting trends; and using the best available science, evidence, and expertise to build models and identify requisite solutions for these unprecedented times and difficulties. The International WELL Building Institute’s Global Research Agenda does just that and represents a vital step towards improving health and well-being around the world,” said Matthew T. Riccio, PhD, vice president of research at Thrive Global.

“Through this effort we’ll forge a movement of purpose-driven people and create the opportunity to connect researchers with industry leaders, investors and policymakers to develop timely and actionable strategies, elevate investments in health and well-being, and ultimately demonstrate the materiality of health to a business’ bottom line,” added Hodgdon.

To download the IWBI Global Research Agenda and receive updates about Impact Topic webcasts and other areas of progress, visit us online here.

Notes to editors:

Development of the Global Research Agenda
In 2019 the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) convened a group of 20 global experts to determine the most critical research areas at the intersection of health and the built environment. Over the course of a year, the Research Advisory helped to identify key issues and top research questions to consider for a Global Research Agenda that would have the greatest impact both for researchers and for those involved with the implementation and dissemination of research: building architects, designers, engineers, sustainability consultants, building occupants, policy makers, real estate professionals and developers, investors and business leaders. These issues include the current state of knowledge and conceptual frameworks that drive research around health, well-being and buildings; current barriers and gaps to healthy building research and implementation; the most critical impact topics; and sector-specific needs such as the business case and policy drivers. In response to COVID-19 and elevated social justice and health equity issues in 2020, the Global Research Agenda was updated and reviewed to include additional research topics relevant to the pandemic and diversity and inclusion.

About the International WELL Building Institute
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit corporation and the world’s leading organization focused on deploying people first places to advance a global culture of health. IWBI mobilizes its community through the administration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL) and the WELL Health-Safety Rating, management of the WELL AP credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and well-being everywhere. More information on WELL can be found here.