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Lakehouse: An Innovative, Performance-Based Model for Healthy Living

Lakehouse is one of the first residential projects in the world – and the first in Colorado – to be awarded WELL Precertification under the WELL Building Standard.


What does it mean to make our homes healthier? Around the country, people have started to recognize that the design of the places we live is a key tool in preserving our mental and physical health. According to the Global Wellness Institute, consumer demand for wellness in real estate is on the rise globally, with more than 1 million potential buyers searching for homes each year that will help them achieve their own personal health and wellness goals.

Brian Levitt
President and Co-founder, NAVA Real Estate Development

Unfortunately, limited inventory has made it difficult for buyers to act while many developers have remained on the sidelines, citing a major impact on construction costs, limited evidence and added challenges to the design process.

The reality is, with a disciplined approach and the right building team, the cost of designing spaces and places that actively support human health and well-being does not have to increase development costs excessively. In fact, developers that looks to certification programs like the WELL Building Standard can design a space that can provide long-term gains for both investors, communities and residents alike that far exceed its cost in terms of time and investment.

Understanding the WELL Building Standard

Certification programs like LEED and Energy Star have transformed the way properties are designed and operated, but programs that incorporate human health and wellness into real estate are still in their infancy.

Lakehouse’s design, materials and extensive amenities have been selected to capture the seven elements of the WELL Building Standard.

The WELL Building Standard has been revolutionary in the development space due to the credibility of its advisors including physicians like Dr. Michael Roizen and wellness experts like Deepak Chopra, both of whom helped create the program with a focus on attaining much deeper levels of building health. Rather than applying a prescriptive approach to achieving certification like LEED, the WELL Building Standard is unique because of its rigorous, performance-based program that integrates wellness best practices into the design, construction and maintenance of the built environment in order to optimize the resident experience for the life of the building. In addition to on-site performance verification of the air and water quality, and thermal and visual comfort, it’s required that the infrastructure exists to support physical and mental activity, as well as nourishment, to achieve WELL Building certification.

At Lakehouse, the first multifamily project in Colorado to pilot, pursue and earn precertification under the WELL Building Standard, we asked ourselves: How can we apply this standard to a residential community while still delivering a positive return on investment?

While the development process presented its own challenges – from constructing on a 177-acre lake to meeting stringent performance criteria that required us to blend evidence-based medical and scientific research with best practices in design – comprehensive wellness infrastructure improvements increased the construction budget by less than 1%. Again, we asked ourselves: what is the corresponding value of this investment if the community enables residents to make healthier choices like eat a vegetable-based diet, practice yoga, swim laps, take a spin class or walk around Sloan’s Lake?

To us, it made absolute sense.

Addressing Infrastructure, Operations & Programming

Creating a healthy home is no easy feat. This is especially true in multifamily design, where the real estate development environment can value efficiency over quality infrastructure and architecture over new features that prioritize occupant health and wellness, resident experience and more thoughtful building operations.

Lakehouse, which broke ground in 2017, applies new thinking and the latest research in multifamily design with a specific focus on how architecture, engineering, design and amenities can better support our residents living experience. So much so that the WELL Building Standard, which is evaluated by performance across seven key categories – including air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind – was instrumental in guiding our development decisions throughout design and construction process.

Designed by architects Stantec and Muñoz + Albin and constructed by GH Phipps with consultation from Delos and Denver-based Realwell, Lakehouse has set an example for how health and wellness best practices can be incorporated into multifamily communities around the world.

Uniquely designed to support and enhance a balanced and socially connected lifestyle, Lakehouse features floor-to-ceiling windows and generous balconies that bathe the residences in natural light. Many of the 196 homes offer either expansive lake, mountain or skyline views of downtown Denver. The timeless blend of glass, stone, steel and wood complements the serene natural setting of Sloan’s Lake, enhancing residents’ overall sense of comfort and well-being.

Inside, amenities go above and beyond. An on-site, professionally managed urban farm produces fresh, organic produce while our Wellness Concierge helps to connect residents with resources that will help them achieve their personal health goals. Residents also have access to a Creative Workshop, Wellness Center and a Resident Lounge with a collaborative cooking and dining program. A UV-filtered, low-chlorine pool and year-round hot tub reduce exposure to undesirable chemicals while MERV-13 air filtration limits airborne contaminants, allowing residents to, literally, breathe easier.

In addition, we’ve partnered with local gyms, yoga studios and other wellness-minded organizations to develop programming that helps residents enhance their physical activity and de-stress their minds.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated conversations about how the places we live can affect our health, our hope is the development community will now accelerate its adoption of wellness-oriented infrastructure and operations that focus on optimizing the mental and physical health of its residents.

In time, Lakehouse’s impact on its residents and modifications to their routines will provide important clues about the ways that buildings can change our lives for the better.

Published in the September 2020 issue of Building Dialogue.

Edited by Building Dialogue