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Showing posts with label Wellness Real Estate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wellness Real Estate. Show all posts

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Nature of Green Wellness Communities

The COVID-19 crisis has given everyone a new perspective on the importance of integrating nature into our everyday lives. Pre-pandemic, we were busy hurtling from home to job, usually in cars or crowded public transportation, often in busy urban areas, with little time built in to experience the great outdoors.


Nature heals: Living in green neighborhoods linked with ...


During the past few months, nature has provided a bit of relief to millions of people in search of physical and mental health. Breathing in fresh air, enjoying the aromas of nature, feeling a relaxing breeze, hearing birds singing and looking up at the stars have served as natural tonics for anxiety and cabin fever. Indeed, the lockdown has taught us that people need landscapes. In this digital age, the value of the IRL natural world is finally back where it should be--front and center.



This renewed appreciation of nature as a contributor to health and wellness will be one of the long-lasting outcomes of this era. Going forward, that is likely to translate into a greater desire for residential neighborhoods and public spaces that emphasize wellness components. 




The way urban and community planners think about space will change following the pandemic, according to Pablo S. Massari, an associate principal at EDSA, a Florida-based landscape architecture firm. Parks and outdoor environments will be prioritized and re-imagined. “In Victorian times,” he said, “people noticed cities getting unhealthier, so they developed parks with canopies and shade. In recent decades, those natural features have been crowded out by tennis courts and playgrounds and skating parks. (But today), most outdoor spaces today are overly programmed for recreation and sports, with very little space for canopy and trails.” Now is the time to change that, he said, by bringing back canopy and greenery, both in parks and in residential areas. 


Enhancing New Urbanism through greenway design | CNU
Courtesy: Congress for the New Urbanism


In terms of community planning then, as new neighborhoods are designed, green space is key. A priority should be put on the ability to traverse the neighborhood by foot or bike. Developing neighborhood greenways, low-traffic streets where bicyclists and walkers get priority over motorists, or dedicated trails for non-motorized vehicles can help do the trick. Communal gardens and outdoor “open play” areas are other features that can add green elements and opportunities for human connection, both of which are key to wellness.



The 19th Hole


When we discuss wellness, we are talking about it holistically. It is not solely human health that we seek to improve, but also the environment at large. That is why, when discussing wellness communities, we should reconsider the idea of homes built around a golf course. Golf courses are known water guzzlers, and the use of fertilizer and pesticides to maintain their manicured lawns are not good for the environment. Furthermore, golf courses located near protected or sensitive areas can have negative impacts on local flora and fauna. 



According to EDSA’s Massari, particularly in areas where water is scarce, extra land should be used for less impactful forms of recreation, or for agriculture, both of which serve to benefit nature and people. 




Monday, August 10, 2020

Shining the Spotlight on Wellness Real Estate

The wellness zeitgeist has been permeating our culture during the past decade. People run around the world in search of wellness practices. At home, they spend spend thousands of dollars a year on SoulCycle and smoothies. Yet, what has been largely overlooked as the movement has exploded is the wellness of one's physical home and the neighborhood that surrounds it.


As most of us have been spending 24/7 inside for the last few months, the realization that home is where the health is has become a reality. Suddenly, there is an understanding that the home environment itself should be healthy and healing, from the quality of the air to the availability of sunlight to the materials used in construction. And, as we take short jaunts around our neighborhoods, we are increasingly appreciating the lure of outdoor features like tree canopy, green spaces, water and walking trails.


Wellness Community, the new lifestyle reality to life a healthy ...
A running trail in Emilia-Romagna's Wellness Valley
Courtesy: Technogym


It's not surprising, then, that many experts predict that this pandemic will change the way people choose to live. Even before COVID, there were studies indicating that lifestyle and environmental factors account for nearly 85 percent of one's health outcomes. It's not a coincidence that during the lockdown, there’s been almost a primordial urge to return to arcadia, in the form of countryside, coastline or mountains.  At the same time, though, in isolation, people are realizing the importance of IRL connection and community.


That is why wellness real estate is set to experience its moment. The wellness real estate sector was already in a nascent state pre-COVID. But post-pandemic, the trend toward buying healthy homes and real estate in wellness communities will grow as more people take into consideration how their living environments support their physical, mental and emotional state of being. 


The Global Wellness Institute has been watching this trend develop over the past decade. According to Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities, wellness real estate was a $134 billion worldwide industry in 2017, and, at the time of the report, was expected to grow to $180 billion in 2022. Given that pandemic, expect that number to top $200 billion.


There are several important features of the communities that are actually walking the wellness walk. They include the use of natural and no-VOC materials in construction; the incorporation of biophilic elements in design, and an abundance of unprogrammed outdoor spaces (that means no golf courses and concrete-covered playground areas). A focus on community-building and social connection is another vital element of a true wellness neighborhood, one that is often overlooked by companies that are trying to glom on to the trend without really understanding the importance and the nuances of a holistic approach. This could result, for example, in larger front porches, smaller front yards and more communal spaces.


Over a series of blog posts, I will be exploring the key ingredients that every wellness community worth its salt must sport. Stay tuned.