Personal solar panels and energy-efficient appliances are often trumpeted by home owners, but now foot-massaging floors and lighting synced to your circadian rhythms are the height of conscientious luxury. The focus of late in the design world is the new WELL Building Standard stamp of approval. The system—developed by Paul Scialla, 40, founder of the real-estate company Delos, after he saw a link between the multi-trillion-dollar real-estate market and the country's booming health industry—rates an interior's impact on its occupant's physical state.
Although WELL is in its nascent stages, the posh amenities it requires can already be found in real-estate conglomerate CBRE's headquarters in Los Angeles; LYFE Kitchen, a health-food chain with locations in Chicago and California; Las Vegas' MGM Grand; and downtown L.A.'s forthcoming mixed-use development, The Bloc. The program's crowning glory is Manhattan's 66 East 11th Street, a residence that opened this summer whose units range from $14.5 to $50 million and Leonardo DiCaprio is an owner. Below, a tour of the top salubrity-centric home improvements.
1. In-Duct Air Filtration
Poor air quality is the likely culprit behind that nagging sinus headache or mold allergy. Breathe easier: A particle-and-carbon-removal system, built into the central A/C, eliminates allergens, toxins, pathogens, and pollen, while UV sanitizers sterilize harmful particles that make it into the O2 circulating through your pad.
2. Eardrum-Pleasing Acoustics
Soundproof Sheetrock walls and double-glazed windows block noise from even the busiest streets and loudest neighbors, while cork-and-rubber sound-damping floor underlays and all-natural foam insulation help keep the peace inside.
3. Circadian-Rhythm Lighting
Overexposure to static light (which is what's in most interiors) throws our circadian rhythms out of whack and drastically reduces melatonin (the sleep hormone) levels. These lighting systems can be tailored to the occupant's sleep habits and—coupled with a dawn-simulating nighttime blackout-shading system—gradually brighten or darken to help you doze off and rise naturally.
4. Vitamin C–Infused Showers
The nutrient does wonders for hair and skin, and after 15 minutes under a tricked-out faucet, you'll be drenched in it. According to celebrity dermatologist Dennis Gross, topical vitamin C is proven to be twice as potent as consuming a pill. And though it won't fend off a cold, advocates say adding vitamin C to water neutralizes chlorine, eliminating cancer-causing free radicals.
5. Light-Therapy Mirror
Perform your morning grooming ritual basking in waves of blue light (similar to those emitted by an iPad). Colors at this "temperature" slow the melatonin flow that started at night and, per a Harvard Medical School study, boost attention, reaction times, and mood—making you more alert than a latte would.
6. Reflexological Tiling
Heated Carrara-marble flooring in the bathroom delivers a mini-rubdown with every step; the raised tiles can be arranged in patterns modeled after the foot-reflexology maps seen taped up in the windows of Chinese massage parlors.
7. Steam Oven
A reservoir boils water, generating a low-temperature cloud of steam heat (more intense than electric heat) that covers food instantly. The resulting rapid cooking "preserves the fiber, color, and flavor of produce, as well as B vitamins . . . vitamin C, calcium . . . and zinc," attests Robin Westen, author of The 2-Day Superfood Cleanse.
8. Germ-Free Countertops
Single-slab quartzite countertops are treated with a photocatalytic coating (an invisible layer of titanium oxide that can be applied to any high-touch surface—faucets, light switches) that destroys chemicals, killing odors and bacteria. With no gaps between slabs of marble for micro organisms to settle, your clean-eating habit is that much cleaner.