Is your building WELL?

27 October 2017

The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard which focuses on the health and wellbeing of the building occupants and gives a ‘wellness’ rating for buildings.

The WELL Building Standard is an international standard which is administered by the International WELL Building Institute, a public benefit corporation based in the US, whose mission is to improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment.

Unlike other standards, which focus on the environmental and sustainability credentials of the building, the WELL Building Standard focuses on the impact of the building on the physical and mental wellbeing of the end-user.

WELL certification is achieved by being scored against 105 features falling under seven concepts whose aims are:

  • Air – to promote clean air through reducing or minimising the sources of indoor air pollution, requiring optimal indoor air quality to support the health and wellbeing of building occupants.
  • Water – to promote safe and clean water through the implementation of proper filtration techniques and regular testing in order for building occupants to receive optimal quality of water for various uses.
  • Nourishment – by requiring the availability of fresh, wholesome foods, limits unhealthy ingredients and encourages better eating habits and food culture.
  • Light – to provide illumination guidelines that aim to minimise disruption to the body’s circadian system, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity where needed.
  • Fitness – to promote the integration of physical activity into everyday life by providing the opportunity and support for an active lifestyle and discourage sedentary behaviours.
  • Comfort – to create a distraction-fee, productive and comfortable indoor environment.
  • Mind – to require design, technology and treatment strategies designed to provide a physical environment that optimises cognitive and emotional health.

Compulsory preconditions need to be met in each of the concept areas to achieve silver level certification. Further features, including optional technologies, and protocols, known as ‘optimizations’ can lead to a gold level certification or, the highest level, platinum level certification.

The certification process includes registering the project, collating and submitting documentation, on-site inspections and performance based testing. Unlike other forms of building certification, the building is also assessed once it is in use.

At present certification is available for new and existing buildings and interiors, and core and shell projects, for commercial and institutional buildings. Pilot schemes are also underway for other sectors.

The number of developments registered for WELL certification in the UK is currently limited. However, with high profile projects such as 22 Bishopsgate (The Pinnacle Tower London) registered, there will be a growing awareness from tenants that there are workspace environments which have been designed to promote employee wellbeing. Developers and investors should be watching this with interest to see if there is a corresponding interest from potential tenants and increased rents from buildings with WELL certification.