The Boon in Wellness Real Estate

by Rona Berg

In 2009, Delos Living began its research in partnership with experts at the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, in order to answer a simple question, “How do we merge real estate with health and well-being?” The findings were nothing short of profound. Several years later, in 2014, the WELL Building standard was launched, with built-in solutions to enhance immunity, sleep, heart and respiratory health and more. Delos brought a new science of wellness into hotels, meeting spaces and home environments. 

Over the past year and a half, as many of us spent extended time living–and working–in our homes throughout the pandemic, attention turned toward transforming those home environments into health and wellness sanctuaries for mind, body and soul. According to Susie Ellis, chair and CEO of Global Wellness Summit (GWS), “Pre-pandemic, the concept of ‘building well’ and wellness real estate were gaining traction, but the pandemic has added a sharp sense of urgency to the issue and created extraordinary momentum for the global market. Now more people are demanding that the places where they live and work be purpose-built to foster physical, mental and social well-being,” she continues. 

A brand-new report from the Global Wellness institute (GWI), entitled  “Wellness Real Estate: Looking Beyond Covid-19,” documents startling growth in wellness real estate, even during the pandemic. The wellness real estate market nearly doubled from 2017 to 2020, taking a leap from $148 to $275 billion. While overall construction projects shrank -2.5 percent, the GWI research indicates that wellness real estate grew 22 percent during the pandemic year, and wellness residential projects tripled, from 740 worldwide in 2017 to over 2300 today. 

The GWI defines Wellness Real Estate as the construction of residential and commercial/institutional properties (including office, hospital, mixed-use/multifamily, medical and leisure) that incorporate intentional wellness elements in their design, materials and building, as well as their amenities, services and/or programming.” Seven countries—the US, China, Australia, UK, Japan, France and Germany—account for 82 percent of the wellness real estate market; the US and China alone comprise roughly 60 percent.

It’s been a perfect storm over the last year: increased stress, working remotely, a growing interest in sustainable and wellness lifestyles, all converged to drive growth to this market. The fact that many of us spent so much time indoors throughout the pandemic has led us to another happy conclusion: that getting out in nature and incorporating nature into the built environment–through biophilia, home greenhouses, indoor/outdoor design elements, a focus on bringing light/the sound of water/fresh air indoors–is critical to managing stress, anxiety and wellness.

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