Stonestown Family YMCA: First WELL Certified Fitness Facility

by: Diana Hayton | June 21, 2019

On Tuesday, June 18th, the Stonestown Family YMCA officially became the first WELL-certified fitness facility in the world, recognizing the Y’s commitment to providing program facilities that enhance the well-being of members, staff, and community users.

Photo Credit: YMCA of San Francisco

Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) presented a WELL Certified Silver plaque to the YMCA of San Francisco at an award ceremony. He was joined by Chuck Collins, President & CEO of YMCA of San Francisco; Joshua Leonard, Senior Executive Director of the Stonestown Family YMCA; San Francisco District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee; and Peggy Bley, Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign Committee who all gave remarks, as well as Y staff, members from the design and construction team, and members of the community.

The YMCA worked with ELS Architecture and Urban Design, Delos, and MHC Engineers to achieve the certification and achieve a Silver level rating. Launched in 2014, WELL Certification is considered the world’s first certification that focuses on the relationship between buildings and human health and well-being. WELL measures building performance that impact occupant health in seven areas: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. These standards were developed with doctors, scientists, and AEC professionals. Similar to LEED, WELL Certification is awarded at three levels: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

“The Y has always provided safe spaces for our community to be healthy. It makes sense that we should consider how our buildings contribute to healthy living. We are proud to be the first fitness facility in the world to have achieved such a high standard in service to our members,” stated Collins.

While the WELL Building Standard was originally designed for office environments, by acting as a pilot case, the YMCA is paving the way for the expansion of the program. “This is a ripple that will be felt around the world,” said Fedrizzi at the awards ceremony.

Some of the improvements the design team completed in order to get the certification include:

  • Better, quieter air filtration systems were added to reduce pollution and provide proper ventilation.
  • Low VOC materials and finishes were chosen to prevent off-gassing.
  • New water bottle filling stations contain water that has been tested for contaminants. The stations will help members and staff stay hydrated and promote the use of reusable water bottles.
  • As part of the renovation, ELS created an open floor plan that maximized natural light and views of the outdoors. Workstations were designed to reduce glare. Artificial light sources were chosen that support the human body’s natural circadian rhythm, promoting daytime alertness and enhancing sleep at night.
  • ELS prioritized ergonomic design to maximize physical comfort and health.  The building was designed to minimize ambient noise and maximize acoustic comfort.
  • A more open and centrally located stair encourages member use and activity levels.
  • A warm, rich color palette and wall art were designed to help reduce stress and support cognitive and emotional health.

To be awarded WELL Certification by IWBI, the Y underwent rigorous testing and a final evaluation carried out by the third-party Green Business Certification, Inc. to ensure that the Y met all WELL Certified Silver performance requirements. Leonard said in his remarks that achieving WELL certification was a long journey: “It involved weekly calls, before, during, and after construction. It involved difficult decisions of cost-benefit analysis. It involved creative design decisions and deep collaboration between a number of stakeholders.”

ELS has been working with the YMCA of San Francisco, YMCA of the East Bay, and YMCA of Silicon Valley on ongoing retrofits, new facilities, and updates to their health and wellness facilities. These projects provide flexible, inclusive, and engaging environments that support the YMCA’s program goals.