DC work space design earns top honors for efficiency, elevating wellness

Plants are distributed throughout work areas such as the open multidesk area pictured here. Workers also like the standup desks. “It’s great in terms of keeping your body moving and changing things up a bit, which keeps you engaged as well,” Jennifer Quail said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Meeting spaces of various sizes are dispersed throughout the ASID offices. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The disc on the window frame monitors natural light to allow lighting indoors to be adjusted to follow circadian rhythms, so interior window shades can be automatically adjusted depending on outdoor conditions. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The blue carpet in this portion of the ASID office serves both LEED and WELL goals. The color of water, it reflects biophilic design strategies that attempt to foster human connection to nature by mimicking indoors elements that are found in nature. To compliment the LEED standard, the carpet is made of recycled fishing nets that otherwise might have been abandoned in the ocean. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
“You can really tell the difference in the air quality,” said Tiffany Kernan, who added that she believes it’s helping her sleep better at home at night. “It sounds kind of funny, like you really wouldn’t believe it, but being there [in the new space] for a year — you do sleep better.” (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
There’s a virtual receptionist outside the office’s main door to inform staff members that they have a guest. (Courtesy ASID) (Courtesy ASID)
Cartoon images of staffers give them a sense of personalization in an office that has open seating. Staff members are invited to trade out their photos for family photos and other personal images they might typically display on an assigned desk. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
A meeting table flanks a bullpen area of desks. There also are four glass-walled private offices that can be reserved for personal use. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The ASID office space flows from more open collaborative areas in the front to more private, segmented areas in the back. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The American Society of Interior Designers headquarters office in Northwest D.C. is the first space in the world to achieve both Platinum-Level Certification for the WELL Building Standard and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Blinds that open and shut automatically are activated by outside light conditions and time of day. The office space also has special materials in the ceiling, walls and floors to control acoustics. There is no door, for example, on the space devoted to the ASID “call center.” But neither the call operators nor people in the outer office area disrupt the other, a spokesman said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The WELL Building Standard measures how the built environment supports people’s health and wellness through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. LEED-certified spaces are determined by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to be resource-efficient. They use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
From left: Rick Fedrizzi, chairman and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute; Randy Fiser, CEO, American Society of Interior Designer (ASID); and Paul Scialla, founder and CEO of Delos and founder of the International WELL Building Institute. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — Some people’s jobs keep them up at night, but Tiffany Kernan thinks her office in D.C. helps her sleep better.

“You can really tell the difference in the air quality,” Kernan said of her office space, which has just earned two prestigious awards.

The Northwest D.C. headquarters for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the first space in the world to achieve both Platinum-Level Certification for the WELL Building Standard (WELL) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Simply stated, the WELL Building Standard measures wellness: how people’s environment supports their health and wellness through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness and comfort levels. The LEED standard evaluates efficient use of resources.

“I notice that I’m more alert,” Jennifer Quail said. “I don’t have that four o’clock head-smacking-on-the-desk thing going on that I always had for years.”

Both Kernan, who is sleeping better, and Quail credit the office’s biophilic design in which elements of nature are mimicked indoors.

Plants line all windowsills and sit on various desks. There’s live rosemary growing in the kitchen area. Portions of the carpet are ocean blue. The back walls of three offices share a single wallpapered photograph that flows from one office to the next. The image that is visible to many desks in an open bullpen work area shows ripples created by a pebble dropped into a body of still water.

Fresh fruit and cut fruit floating in an ice water dispenser are always available in the cafeteria area. It not only encourages workers to stay hydrated, Quail said, but also helps her save money.

“A lot of money that I used to spend buying bottles of water for work every day,” Quail said.

Staffers have the option of working remotely or from home, but few do.

“They’re choosing to come into the office, because it’s such a healthy environment,” said ASID spokesman Joseph Cephas.

ASID’s staff of 33 has been in the new 8,500 square feet of office space for about year. In the near future, a study will be published by a researcher specializing in how interior design affects human behavior.

Data was collected on workers pre- and post-occupancy. But there was a delay collecting information from the staff initially to allow the “honeymoon” effect of a new space to wear off.

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