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A Place to Be WELL

Stonestown Family YMCA: the First Fitness Facility To Be WELL Certified

On Tuesday, June 18, the Stonestown Family YMCA in San Francisco welcomed major donors, stakeholders, District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee, architects and CEOs to witness a world first: the Stonestown Family YMCA receiving status as the first fitness facility to be WELL Certified at the Silver Level by the international WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

Like all worthwhile endeavors, the journey of achieving this WELL Certification was a long and, at times, difficult one. 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. Perhaps most importantly, it involved seeing through on commitments, even when things got hard and priorities conflicted. I am personally so grateful to the partners who believed in us, even when we began to doubt our ability to achieve this certification, for always being there to hold our hands and get us across the finish line.

"Yes, the Stonestown Family YMCA won this prestigious award, but the Y has always been here supporting its community." Norman Yee, District 7 Supervisor

7 Principles

Together, we incorporated the Well Building Standard’s 7 Principles into nearly all facets of our renovation, and for those of you not familiar with the standard, I would like to share what that entailed:

In the Air Principle 

We added better air filtration, reduced sources of air pollution, and increased ventilation. We chose building materials with low chemical off-gassing, and adopted the highest cleaning standards using non-toxic cleaning agents.

In the Water Principle

We added water bottle filling stations with dense filters to deliver clean water tested to be free of inorganic and organic contaminants, in order to help members and staff stay hydrated and improve overall health.

In the Nourishment Principle

We put in place policies for healthier food choices for staff, such as including fruits and vegetables and eliminating foods that contain harmful trans fats or high levels of sugar per serving, in order to help staff stay energized and focused.

In the Light Principle

We designed the facility to maximize natural light and incorporated artificial light that supports natural patterns of the human circadian rhythm, which optimizes the body’s natural routines by promoting daytime alertness and enhancing sleep at the end of the day.

In the Fitness Principle

We optimized our fitness equipment, offerings, and program schedules to support active daily routines for members and staff, to ensure they have the strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular capacity needed to live full and active lives.

In the Comfort Principle

We created a facility design that prioritizes physical comfort through ergonomics, temperature, and minimized noise and smell to optimize productivity and satisfaction with the environment for members and staff.

In the Mind Principle

We ensured that staff and members have access to programs and resources designed to improve their mental and emotional state and increase mindfulness. We also incorporated new environmental design elements into the facility that included colors, lighting, and decorative elements that enliven, reduce stress, and enhance mood.

"It doesn’t stop here. When we build preschools or campuses, we will continue the work that we are doing. This isn't a period, but a comma. We're moving forward and will continue to build." - Chuck Collins, President and CEO of the YMCA of San Francisco

"What you did is remarkable. This is a ripple felt around the world." - Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the International Well Building Institute


By meeting the International Well Building Institute’s Well Building Standard, we ensure that our building is working as hard to make people happy, healthy, and connected as our staff do every day. We hope that every time you walk out of the Stonestown Family YMCA, all of these forces work together seamlessly, without you even being aware of them, to ensure that you leave feeling healthier and more enlivened than when you walked in.


Thank You

I would like to thank our CEO Chuck Collins for his vision to make this project a reality. Chuck, you inspire us to bring our best every day for our communities, and this certification is a great example of the legacy of health and well-being that you have built in communities throughout San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo.

I would also like to thank YMCA of SF Staff and Board Leadership, especially including staff Erin Clark, Bill Worthington, Gary Cockerel, and Jamie Bruning-Miles; and board members Peggy Bley, and Holland Ja, for giving your leadership, vision, and experience to help achieve this renovation and certification.

I must also thank our partners, the International Well Building Institute, particularly Liz Miles and Melanie Koch; Delos Consulting, particularly Meagan Rossi and and Francesca Gentile; ELS Architecture and Urban Design, particularly Diana Hayton; MHC Engineers, particularly Toby Lee; and Hillhouse Construction for holding our hands and lending your excellence and expertise in managing the overwhelming number of details needed to achieve this certification. You were there with us every step of the way, and we will be forever grateful for your help and support.

We owe our largest debt of gratitude to our Capital Campaign Donors, particularly our major donors, Peggy and Mark Bley, Dome Construction, the Estate of Lenora Davis, and the William Irwin Foundation, as well as the many board, staff, partners, and members inside and outside of this room who generously contributed to a renovation that will make waves of health ripple out in this community for decades to come. Your gifts are truly the kind that keep on giving. Thank you for stepping up to make the Stonestown Family YMCA a leader in the work of making people well!