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A Massachusetts research building is the first to meet WELL’s Gold standard

Design changes in lighting and HVAC systems were required to meet compliance criteria.

June 18, 2018 |

Bleacher seating was one of the requirements that the biopharmacutical company EMD Serono needed to meet to earn Gold-level certification from the International WELL Building Institute. Image: courtesy of EMD Serono

An R&D building on the Billerica, Mass., campus of EMD Serono—a biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany that focuses on specialty care—became the first in the United States to receive Gold-level certification for New and Existing Buildings from the International WELL Building Institute.

The Sagamore Building, as it is known, is part of a three-building, 275,000-sf campus with more than 500 employees who work to accelerate R&D innovation in oncology, immune-oncology, and immunology. The campus is one of four global R&D hubs for the company.The Sagamore Building, which was completed last year, has also earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

To achieve WELL certification, EMD Serono started with a two-day design charette that included architects, engineers, designers, and facilities managers who brainstormed, built models, and challenged notions of space. (The Building Team included Boston-based architect Ellenzwieg.)

To meet WELL’s building standard, the project—which included a new addition and a retrofit of an existing building—installed WELL-compliant lighting fixtures, and MERV 15 high efficiency air filters under ASHRAE 52.2/MERV. EMD Serono also changed to compliant cleaning chemicals and protocols, and increased its preventive maintenance schedules to quarterly, with photographic documentation of service.

EMD Serono's Sagamore Building offers its employees a variety of healthier spaces in which to work and collaborative. Image: EMD Serono


Employees now have a variety of work environments to choose from, including open spaces, huddle rooms, and designated technology-free quiet zones. WELL also requires stairs between floors to encourage exercise and occupant movement. The design of the Sagamore building’s bleacher seating and auditorium was conceived during the design phase. The seating’s construction involved rebar and build forms that were supported with special staging for several concrete pours.  

The Sagamore Building underwent testing and a final evaluation by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), WELL’s third-party certification entity, which corroborated that the built environment was designed to improve occupants’ nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns and performance.

Anthony Meenaghan, EMD Serono’s Senior Director, Facilities Management and Engineering, Environmental Health & Safety, says the WELL certification highlights his company’s collaborative and knowledge-sharing culture. “Offering employees an environment where they can do their best work plays an important role in bringing meaningful solutions to people with difficult-to-treat diseases.”


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