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

The headquarters for the American Society of Interior Designers 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.

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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