(MoneyWatch) New York-based Delos Living is pioneering the idea of building homes with elements meant to enhance and promote good health. Lighting that mimics daylight, showers that pump out aloe and vitamin C, ergonomic flooring and melatonin-enhancing blackout shades are just a few features the real estate developer is putting into its homes to help boost the well-being of its residents.
Think of it as the next step in sustainable building.
"About five years ago, we started to look at this notion of sustainability in real estate -- the word was popping up everywhere in development," founder Paul Scialla said. "With all the great things that have gone on with the green building movement, we thought we could push the sustainability envelope."
On top of developing buildings that don't negatively interact with Mother Earth, Scialla and his co-founder Morad Fareed wanted to create buildings that wouldn't negatively interact with the humans inside them either.
So with six years of research with scientists and doctors from Columbia University Medical School, as well as with architects, engineers and contractors, they developed the WELL Building Standard.
The WELL standard, modeled after the LEED standard in green building, is divided into seven categories: Air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
"The standard is a holistic approach," Fareed said. "It's meant to operate as a formula and a system. Just optimizing one category is really not going to get you the output and results you need -- you need all of them."
The standard is performance-based, meaning that the company is looking to meet certain outcomes -- cleaner air, water and light; available resources that promote healthy living -- rather than requiring the use of certain features, building materials or products.
But the company does dictate what some of these standards might look like when they're implemented. Homes that would potentially meet the standard would first have an advanced indoor air-quality control system, with air filters and purifiers meant to rid the indoor air of all the toxins and allergens the residents would drag in with them.
Inside, a combination of many different light bulbs, designed to mimic the timing, intensity and color of natural light, adjust over the course of the day, delivering vitamin D light therapy.
Other lights would deliver UV rays that sanitize surfaces, particularly in the kitchen.
The kitchen would also have top-of-the-line appliances and products that make steaming, blending and juicing foods easier. Nearby, produce and herbs could grow.
Acupressure, aromatherapy and sound wave technology could be available to soothe away the day's stresses.
In a residential building, a wellness concierge, who advises residents on how to make healthier choices, would be available to help residents with all their health needs.
A dedicated fitness area in those buildings should go without saying.
Right now, the concept can be checked out in rooms at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Currently, there are no properties available to own, but Delos is close. The most highly-anticipated residential project lies at 66 E. 11th Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, where six condos will hit the market this month, priced anywhere from $15.5 million to $50 million.
While that might be the pricey end of the business, the company hopes to open up its standards to more than the mega-wealthy. Scialla and Fareed are working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to transform an existing Boyle Heights apartment building to meet some of its standards.
The company will soon unveil the first WELL-certified office building in the country, the global headquarters for CBRE, a commercial real estate services firm, in downtown L.A. It will include mixed-use retail, office and hotel elements. Plus, Delos has designed WELL-certified restaurants for a California chain called Lyfe Kitchen. Delos is also renovating a 12,000-square-foot Montecito, Calif., estate.
The company also has some powerful people helping it make waves in the real estate world. Holistic health guru Deepak Chopra sits on the advisory board, along with a slew of political players, real estate and design pros and doctors. The company has ties with designer Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.
"This is a real movement," Fareed said of the company's recent popularity. "We've seen a significant sea change in industry interest and appetite for a range of products."
For now, the WELL standard is still in its beta phase, so any builder looking to be certified would need to partner with Delos, but the company hopes to make the standard publicly available soon.
To see more photos and renditions of the properties Delos has, click through the gallery.