Focused on human health and wellness, the WELL Building Standard combines medical and scientific research which is focused on the health and well-being of building occupants. The evaluation criteria linked to the process endeavors to address the health and well-being of building occupants, which in turn positively impacts on productivity and satisfaction levels of workers - an increasingly important consideration for most clients today.
The guidelines, which reference existing standards and best practice in building design and management, are administered by GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc.). GBCI also administer the LEED system, so many US-based consultants will be familiar with the process.
As with the LEED Certification process, each category within the WELL Certification process includes prerequisites known as 'preconditions' and credits known as 'optimizations'. All preconditions need to be achieved to meet WELL Certification with a silver, gold or platinum certification awarded based on the quantity of optimizations passed. Again, similar to LEED, different types of projects will result in different preconditions and optimizations; for example, a new shell and core building will not require the nourishment or fitness criteria that a new or existing interiors project will require.
To achieve or meet a precondition and optimization, there can be a number of different steps involved. These can range from an on-site performance test or a letter of assurance from a registered architect or engineer, to an operation schedule developed to meet the guidelines outlined in the checklists. Some categories will also require quarterly/annual inspections or reports to ensure that the project is consistently compliant for example, air samples are tested annually and all water delivered to the workplace for human consumption must be tested quarterly. Once the project team agrees that the preconditions and achievable optimizations are met, an on-site inspection is arranged with the IWBI (International WELL Building Institute) to ensure compliance.
A study conducted by the IWBI determined that 90% of our time is spent indoors. With these results, it is no surprise that companies are focusing on the health and wellness of employees, and that the majority of industry leaders are now pursuing WELL Certification. Employers who tailor their wellness programs to specific employee needs and make them accessible may enjoy a competitive advantage in terms of attracting and retaining talent. WELL is also a tool used to maximize employee performance, with another study utilized by the IWBI showing that by doubling the ventilation rate in a space (a precondition in all three project types), it improved the performance of workers by 8%, reduced absenteeism and improved employee health.
WELL is an opportunity to engage an entire people chain from shareholders and investors to customers about how health is a priority of your companies’ mission. WELL is a platform that allows you to easily communicate that commitment to those stake holders. This level of exposure offers several measurable components including increased recognition, media impressions, increased social followers and cross-promotional connections related to health. The potential gains in pursuing WELL Certification can also be quantified in terms of marketing value; there can be a positive media response associated with the pursuit of something as innovative as WELL Certification.
WELL Advanced Professionals (known as WELL APs) are WELL leaders in the industry and committed to placing health and wellness at the center of building design and performance. As workspaces of the future continue to focus more on environmental sustainability, we anticipate that the WELL Certification accreditation will be a key element in best practice guidelines related to the building design and management of work environments.