Wellness has come a long way, from a pat on the shoulder to changing how we live. Picture: Jay Town
A FEW decades ago, Kelvin Ryan was a physical education teacher who saw wellness as a reassuring pat on the shoulder of a struggling student.
Now chief executive of housing builder Simonds, he’s made it a cornerstone of the business and a key area of innovation in a building industry abounding with smart new ideas.
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Simonds is now rolling out new home automation technology — designed to improve air and water quality and even provide occupants with a better night’s sleep — in all its homes.
A small box to the right of the house is the only sign of the health-enhancing features inside. Picture: Jay Town
Called Darwin Home Wellness Intelligence, the technology has been created by US-based group Delos.
Behind it is five years and more than $122 million (AUD) in research, not to mention a retired Goldman Sachs partner.
Parts of it are already in use — or being built into — about 50 major Australian buildings, including future Melbourne landmark Collins Arch, via Delos spin-off the International Well Building Institute.
Wellness real estate launch of DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence with Simonds Group. From left — Paul Scialla, Delos CEO, Kelvin Ryan, Simonds Group, Bill Giannikos, Delos Australian CEO.
Working with Simonds, the Delos team is making its first foray into the family home market — and further disrupting an industry that at its heart is still working with “bricks and sticks”.
For its part, Delos is expecting its Darwin system to become a universal home feature.
Delos chief Paul Scialla, formerly of Goldman Sachs, said the technology was expected to add less than 1 per cent to the cost of a house.
“We think there’s a natural gravity that this will become normal for real estate, and should that happen we have done our job,” Mr Scialla said.
“We are positioning this as a right, not a privilege.”
Indoor-outdoor living is still a feature of the home, despite the air filtration systems in use. Picture: Jay Town
There’s a simple mantra in the building industry at the moment.
“You keep at the front edge and keep on innovating,” Mr Ryan said.
Technology is also the cornerstone of developer Mirvac’s new House With No Bills concept — a house that uses smart solar electricity management to reduce energy bills as close to zero as possible. It is being trialled in Cheltenham.
They’re all part of the same movement — a new housing industry driven by better outcomes for the people living in their homes.
The housing industry has a new focus on making homes better for the people inside them. Picture: Jay Town
“I think all these technologies merge,” Mr Ryan said.
“They are all about a better state of mind. Ultimately, wellness is a positive state of mind and whatever brings that about — fresher air, or energy efficiency.”
Simonds has also asked all staff to embrace a 90-day wellness initiative in their personal lives.
One senior manager is giving up a smoking habit she hasn’t even told her children she has.
“The thing that is particularly driving us is kids,” Mr Ryan said.
“So they can grow up in a better environment.”
The Delos home ecosystem tablet app used to monitor homes for air, water and light quality.
While Delos’s first foray into family homes is the latest in a growing list of must have innovations, Mr Ryan believes the technology will be here for the long term.
He’s expecting it to learn and improve over the next five years, but the fundamental reason to include it in homes won’t change.
“If you could offer your family a better outcome, why wouldn’t you?” he said.