Specialists from across the construction sector are investing their expertise in considering new and improved ways to design and build sustainable spaces.
While that offers a range of benefits for our health and wellbeing, the range of associated accreditations can be overwhelming.
We’re unpacking the basics of each of these sustainability certifications, including WELL Building StandardTM (WELL v2TM). We’ll take a close look at the features of certification, what benefits it may offer you and how your project will be assessed.
What is WELL certification?
The *WELL v2TM is a performance-based system that addresses specifying, measuring, monitoring and verifying features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing.
It is an evidence-based standard developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and focuses on the intentionality of design, construction, and operations of buildings to promote human health and wellbeing.
WELL certification is designed to complement other existing building green building programs such as LEED, by providing a framework that specifically addresses the health and wellness of building occupants.
*The WELL Building StandardTM is currently in version 2. Its scoring system is more flexible than WELL v1, motivating more building owners to seek certification.
Why is WELL popular?
The WELL Building StandardTM is detailed, thorough and established on the principles of being: globally applicable, equitable, evidence-based, customer-focused, technically robust, resilient.
The standard has minimal barriers to entry for intentionally designing spaces that nurture health and wellbeing.
The IWBI Governance Council upholds the integrity of the WELL Building Standard development process.
Each WELL feature meets four tenets outlined below:
- Evidence-based approach that links design, policy and built environment strategies to health and well-being outcomes.
- Verifiable through on-site assessments and testing of building performance.
- Implementable as demonstrated through WELL v1 and/or WELL v2 pilots.
- Presented for outside input by engaging with a diverse community of professionals, specialists, peer reviews and other 3rd parties, whose participation informs the development of WELL.
What are the benefits of a WELL certification?
The benefits of a WELL certification are being studied and reported.
One such study has been recently published in issue 224 of the Journal of Building and Environment 224 (2022) 109539. It found an increase in occupant satisfaction and perceived health, wellbeing, and productivity in WELL certified spaces, with features that improve air quality and minimise exposure to toxins (i.e. asbestos and mercury).
Once certified, a building can use the WELL certification to differentiate itself in the market, attract tenants or occupants who prioritise health and wellness, and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.
How are WELL projects assessed?
WELL v2 projects are categorised for assessment in two main groups, established via ownership type of the project:
- Owner-occupied: the project is mainly occupied by the project owner (NB this may be different from the building owner).
- WELL Core: the project owner occupies a small portion of the project area and rents/leases most of the space to one or more tenants.
WELL is made up of ten concepts:
- Thermal Comfort
Each concept consists of features with distinct health intents and criteria requirements. Features are classed as preconditions (these are universal and mandatory requirements for all projects) or optimisations (these are flexible and selectable requirements depending on the function, typology of the project, etc.).
The applicability of features within concepts to WELL core projects, depends on factors such as relevant population and project area.
How are WELL projects scored?
WELL assessments have a dynamic scorecard with a total of 100 points across ten concepts.
To achieve WELL certification, a project must achieve all the preconditions and meet specific performance criteria in each of the concepts.
Projects may earn no more than 12 points per concept. Ten additional points are available under the Innovation concept.
If a project earns more than 12 points in any concept, the additional points are counted toward Feature I01, provided the maximum points in the innovation concept have not yet been reached.
There are different levels of WELL certification:
- WELL Bronze Certification: 40 points; no minimum points per concept
- WELL Silver Certification: 50 points; minimum 1 point per concept
- WELL Gold Certification: 60 points; minimum 2 points per concept
- WELL Platinum Certification: 80 points; minimum 3 points per concept
Take a look at our WELL projects
- Targeting WELL Gold: 5 St Philips Place, Birmingham (completion expected in 2023)
- Targeting WELL Gold: 19 Cornwall St, Birmingham (currently in preconstruction phase)