WELL Building Standard®

We believe that buildings should be developed with people’s health and wellness at the center of design. The WELL Building Standard takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment addressing behavior, operations and design.

WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

WELL is grounded in a body of medical research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants. WELL Certified™ spaces can help create a built environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns and performance of its occupants.

Download the WELL Building Standard®


Concepts

WELL measures attributes of buildings that impact occupant health by looking at seven factors, or Concepts.

The Seven Concepts of the WELL Building Standard®

Air: Optimize and achieve indoor air quality. Strategies include removal of airborne contaminants, prevention and purification.

Water: Optimize water quality while promoting accessibility. Strategies include removal of contaminants through filtration and treatment, and strategic placement.

Nourishment: Encourage healthy eating habits by providing occupants with healthier food choices, behavioral cues, and knowledge about nutrient quality.

Light: Minimize disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. Requirements for window performance and design, light output and lighting controls, and task-appropriate illumination levels are included to improve energy, mood and productivity.

Fitness: Utilize building design technologies and knowledge-based strategies to encourage physical activity. Requirements are designed to provide numerous opportunities for activity and exertion, enabling occupants to accommodate fitness regimens within their daily schedule.

Comfort: Create an indoor environment that is distraction-free, productive, and soothing. Solutions include design standards and recommendations, thermal and acoustic controllability, and policy implementation covering acoustic and thermal parameters that are known sources of discomfort.

Mind: Support mental and emotional health, providing the occupant with regular feedback and knowledge about their environment through design elements, relaxation spaces, and state-of-the-art technology.

Air

Optimize and achieve indoor air quality. Strategies include removal of airborne contaminants, prevention and purification.

Water

Optimize water quality while promoting accessibility. Strategies include removal of contaminants through filtration and treatment, and strategic placement.

Nourishment

Encourage healthy eating habits by providing occupants with healthier food choices, behavioral cues, and knowledge about nutrient quality.

Light

Minimize disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm. Requirements for window performance and design, light output and lighting controls, and task-appropriate illumination levels are included to improve energy, mood and productivity.

Fitness

Utilize building design technologies and knowledge-based strategies to encourage physical activity. Requirements are designed to provide numerous opportunities for activity and exertion, enabling occupants to accommodate fitness regimens within their daily schedule.

Comfort

Create an indoor environment that is distraction-free, productive, and soothing. Solutions include design standards and recommendations, thermal and acoustic controllability, and policy implementation covering acoustic and thermal parameters that are known sources of discomfort.

Mind

Support mental and emotional health, providing the occupant with regular feedback and knowledge about their environment through design elements, relaxation spaces, and state-of-the-art technology.


Features

WELL is composed of over one hundred Features that are applied to each building project, and each WELL Feature is designed to address issues that impact the health, comfort, or knowledge of occupants.

Many WELL Features intended to improve health are supported by existing government standards or other standards-setting organizations. Some Features are intended to change behavior through education and corporate policy or culture, and provide information and support for making positive lifestyle choices.

Features can be:

  • Performance-based standards: allow flexibility in how a project meets acceptable quantified thresholds.
  • Descriptive standards: require that specific technology, design strategies, or protocols are implemented.

WELL Features are categorized as either Preconditions—necessary for baseline WELL Certification, or Optimizations—optional enhancements, which together determine the level of certification above baseline certification.


Project Typologies

The Features of WELL can be applied across many real estate sectors, and the current WELL v1 is optimized for commercial and institutional office buildings.

WELL is further organized into Project Typologies which take into account the specific set of considerations that are unique to a particular building type or phase of construction. For WELL v1, there are three project typologies:

New and Existing Buildings (formerly known as New Construction and Major Renovations Typology): This project typology applies to new and existing buildings and addresses the full scope of project design and construction as well as aspects of building operations.

New and Existing Interiors (formerly known as Tenant Improvement): This project typology applies to commercial interior projects in existing buildings. In WELL Core and Shell Compliant buildings, some WELL Features may already apply towards New and Existing Interiors certification—making certification easier.

Core and Shell: WELL Core and Shell is available for new core and shell developments or for multi-tenant buildings seeking to implement the basic conditions necessary to achieve WELL Certification. The core and shell typology addresses the building structure, window locations and glazing, building proportions, heating, cooling and ventilation system, as well as water quality as it is supplied to the building. This typology also encourages consideration of the site in relation to amenities and opportunities for wellness.

New and Existing Buildings

New and Existing Buildings (formerly known as New Construction and Major Renovations Typology): This project typology applies to new and existing buildings and addresses the full scope of project design and construction as well as aspects of building operations.

New and Existing Interiors

New and Existing Interiors (formerly known as Tenant Improvement): This project typology applies to commercial interior projects in existing buildings. In WELL Core and Shell Compliant buildings, some WELL Features may already apply towards New and Existing Interiors certification—making certification easier.

Core and Shell

Core and Shell: WELL Core and Shell is available for new core and shell developments or for multi-tenant buildings seeking to implement the basic conditions necessary to achieve WELL Certification. The core and shell typology addresses the building structure, window locations and glazing, building proportions, heating, cooling and ventilation system, as well as water quality as it is supplied to the building. This typology also encourages consideration of the site in relation to amenities and opportunities for wellness.


Pilot Programs

While the WELL Building Standard v1 is currently applicable to commercial and institutional office buildings, IWBI has developed pilot versions of the standard to test and refine how WELL can be applied to new building sectors. IWBI currently offers pilot programs for retail, multifamily residential, education, restaurant and commercial kitchen projects.

Participation in WELL pilot programs provides an opportunity for projects to engage at the cutting edge of the healthy building movement. IWBI’s goal is to integrate feedback and lessons learned from pilot projects and industry experts to help inform future versions of the WELL Building Standard.

Pilot projects may achieve Silver, Gold or Platinum pilot certification following the same method as WELL v1. The first step is to download the pilot standard (available as an addendum to WELL v1) and officially apply to the pilot program for your designated building sector through WELL Online. IWBI will contact you to learn more about your project, conduct an initial evaluation to ensure that it fits the specifications, and provide assistance throughout the pilot certification process.

Download the pilot standards. For inquiries about WELL pilot programs, please contact [email protected].

RETAIL
Retail applies to locations where consumers can view and purchase merchandise onsite, and staff are employed to assist in the sale of products. The Retail pilot standard is applicable to both owner- and tenant-occupied projects, and to both those in stand-alone buildings and those integrated into larger structures.

MULTIFAMILY RESIDENTIAL
Multifamily Residential applies specifically to projects with at least five dwelling units in a single building with common structural elements. Projects that qualify include apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and other residential complexes within all market thresholds – affordable housing, market-rate, and luxury.

EDUCATION
Educational Facilities applies to projects where dedicated staff are employed for instructional purposes, and students may be of any age. Courses may cover any range of topics, and facilities may be typified by fully scheduled days, or distinct classes that students enroll in at will.

RESTAURANT
Restaurants applies to locations where a consumer purchases food and dines onsite, and includes indoor or outdoor seating. The establishment may include wait staff that tend to consumers, or be self-serve. The Restaurant pilot standard does not include take-out only establishments, nor establishments whose primary source of revenue derives from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Further, the Restaurant pilot standard only applies to dining spaces—it does not cover kitchens in which food is prepared (see Commercial Kitchen).

COMMERCIAL KITCHEN
Commercial Kitchens applies to locations where cooks prepare food for other building users. It is not applicable to office kitchenettes or home kitchens. In general, spaces subject to local health inspection are likely to use this Pilot Addendum. Commercial Kitchen is always paired with another standard, such as Restaurant or Education.


Why WELL

Our built environment has a profound impact on our health, well-being, happiness and productivity.

Our built environment can shape our habits and choices, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, drive us toward healthy and unhealthy choices, and passively influence our health through the quality of our surroundings.

Health and wellness is one of the largest growing industries, and consumers are impacting this growing demand. In the design and development industry, owners, designers and builders expect health to have a higher influence on design and construction decisions over the next two years.

The WELL Building Standard® provides the opportunity to design and build with a human-centered approach, which ultimately supports the industry in comprehensively addressing human health: Employers spend 90 percent of their annual operating costs on people. This means that even a small impact on productivity, engagement and satisfaction in the workplace can have huge returns on investment.


Source: Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices. [[Online]] 2014. World Green Building Council. 7.


McKinsey and Company: "Wellness is the next trillion dollar industry as employers invest in healthy living programs and as customers take more responsibility for optimizing their own health."


Source: Healthy, wealthy and (maybe) wise: The emerging trillion-dollar market for health and wellness. Putney Cloos, Shrine Ebrahim, Tracey Griffin, and Warren Teacher. Consumer and Marketing Insights. May 2012. McKinsey and Co.


Adding Value

A WELL Certified™ project has the potential to add measurable value to the health, well-being and happiness of building occupants. It can also generate increased savings and productivity, in addition to a meaningful return on investment to the tenant and building owner.

By placing people at the heart of design, construction, operations and development decisions, we have the ability to add meaningful value to real estate assets, generate savings in personnel costs, and enhance the human experience, health and well-being.

WELL empowers the creation of healthy environments for people to live, work and play, enhancing occupant health and quality of life globally.

People who work in WELL Certified environments have expressed the positive impacts their WELL offices have on productivity and performance. In the first office to be WELL Certified™ — Pilot Program, CBRE Corporate Headquarters, employees responded with the following survey feedback:

83%

feel more productive

100%

said that clients are interested in their new way of working

92%

said the new space has created a positive effect on their health and well-being

94%

said that the new space has a positive impact on their business performance

93%

said that they are able to more easily collaborate with others


Source: CBRE Global Corporate Headquarters Los Angeles, California, Workplace 360 Study. 2014.


Return on Investment

Personnel costs significantly outweigh the costs for design and construction and operations and maintenance.

Building Costs


Source: Osso, Annette. Sustainable Building Technical Manual. [[Online]] 1994. Public Technology, Inc. 16.



By channeling resources toward reducing the biggest line item in the 30-year costs of a building—the personnel—the business case for WELL features a meaningful return on investment.


Discover WELL Projects

Nearly 200 projects encompassing more than 35 million square feet have already registered or certified through WELL.

Projects registered and certified through the WELL Building Standard® include more than 25 million square feet of commercial, institutional, and multifamily projects in the U.S. and globally.

WELL Certified™ spaces have received valuable recognition for commitments made to the health and wellness of employees, consumers and the general public, in addition to media attention for innovative and progressive work.

  • The first office in the world to be WELL Certified™ — Pilot Program, CBRE Corporate Headquarters in Los Angeles, was the recipient of the Prestigious Global Innovator’s Award from CoreNet Global.
  • The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is the first institution worldwide to be WELL Certified™ Platinum – Pilot Program, the highest rating awarded by IWBI, for its Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). The CSL has also achieved the Living Building Challenge™, LEED® Platinum, and the Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES™) for landscapes project (pilot).
  • The first WELL Certified™ — Pilot Program retail environment, LYFE Kitchen, has received acclaim from multiple media outlets and celebrity endorsements including Deepak Chopra, who stated: “I commend the efforts of LYFE Kitchen to create a dining environment that promotes emotional and physical wellness.”

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