In our second WELL Wednesday from our Sustainability Studio Series, we’re exploring Restorative Spaces.

The intent of this WELL Building Criteria is to support access to spaces that promote restoration and relief from mental fatigue or stress. Sustainability Coordinator Elena Nansen shared this criteria to show that by providing restorative spaces for individuals to step away from the stress of the school or office environment where they can recharge and refocus, employers can help alleviate negative effects associated with workplace fatigue and mental depletion. Mentally distancing oneself from work when needed and engaging in restorative activities is linked to employee well-being, specifically higher life satisfaction and mood, maintained workplace performance, lower burnout and fewer health complaints.

Through the incorporation of nature, among other restorative elements, these spaces can help relieve stress, mental fatigue, support focus and encourage overall mental well-being. Exposure to plants and other natural elements has been linked with decreased levels of blood pressure, depression and anxiety, increased attention span, better recovery from job stress and increased psychological well-being. Interaction with nature has also been shown to support recovery from illness and increased pain tolerance.


Designated indoor space should be made available to all regular building occupants to support restorative practices. This may be a single space or several spaces that meet the following criteria:

  1. Designated exclusively for contemplation, relaxation and restoration (not to be used for work).
  2. Minimum of 75 feet per regular building occupant up to a maximum of 800 feet. (The room may be broken up into multiple smaller areas that total the required amount).

The Design Plan should also incorporate the following design criteria:

  • Accessible Design
  • Lighting
  • Limiting Intrusive Noise
  • Thermal Comfort
  • Accommodating/variable seating arrangements
  • Incorporation of nature
  • Calming colors, textures and forms
  • Visual privacy