An Introduction to the Value of WELL Building Certification for Building Owners
By Tom Stack, Senior Architect, H2M architects + engineer
In 2017, during my research on sustainability, I stumbled upon a report that introduced a revolutionary building standard. Created in 2013 by a design agency, this standard aimed to improve the quality of life by designing spaces that actively and passively enhance the mental and physical health of occupants. As I delved into the report, I discovered these guidelines were the culmination of seven years of research and development by leading physicians, scientists, and industry professions. This is what eventually became known as the WELL Standard.
The WELL Standard is a performance-based certification system that combines the best practices of design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research. As an architect with more than 25 years of experience in the industry, I was both astonished and excited to see a building standard that considered the impact of the built environment on various aspects of human health, including the nervous and digestive systems. The latest version of the WELL Standard focuses on 10 concepts, each encompassing a group of features with distinct health impacts. These concepts include Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community. Additionally, there is an optional 11th concept known as Innovation. Within these 10 main concepts, there are mandatory pre-conditions that must be met to achieve WELL Certification, as well as potential optimizations that determine a building’s ranking. The more optimizations implemented, the higher the ranking, ranging from bronze to platinum.
I was intrigued by the concept of a building standard that considers such a wide array of elements. Consequently, I dedicated the following months to preparing for the WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) exam and received my accreditation. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical role that environments play in human health and well-being. Today, Environmental Social Governance (ESG) performance and reporting have emerged as powerful drivers, with investors demanding accountability from organizations. Now, more than ever, the industry needs to adopt a comprehensive environmental design approach that prioritizes the well-being of occupants in addition to addressing specific tasks or programs within a space.
Building owners, in particular, stand to gain significant value from pursuing WELL Certification for their property. By achieving WELL Certification, building owners demonstrate their commitment to providing a healthy and conducive environment for occupants. This certification acts as a mark of distinction, highlighting the owner’s dedication to the well-being and productivity of those who utilize their space. In an era where occupants are increasingly aware of the impact of their surroundings on their health and well-being, WELL Certification can attract and retain tenants who prioritize their health and seek spaces that support their well-being.
To further explore the WELL Standard and its benefits, reach out to me directly at TStack@h2m.com. Our experienced team is ready to deliver an informative “Intro to WELL” presentation tailored to your organization’s needs.