Enhanced options to the WELL Building Standard

Enhanced options to the WELL Building Standard

Thursday, September 24, 2015
/ By:
Nathan Stodola

WELL Certification

Enhanced options to the WELL Building Standard offer simplifications, language enhancements and additional clarifications to certain Feature requirements. As part of the enhancements, WELL typologies have been renamed: 

  • New and Existing Buildings has been renamed from New Construction.  
  • New and Existing Interiors has been renamed from Tenant Improvement.
  • Performance Verification, formerly WELL Commissioning, differentiates WELL from other programs and ensures through onsite testing that the health and wellness requirements in WELL are being delivered.

The enhanced options fall into four categories: 1) organization of requirements focused on better usability, 2) simplification based on user feedback, including additional options to provide more flexibility in achieving the feature requirements, 3) addition of new requirements to the standard to strengthen the system, and 4) clarification, or minor adjustments to improve some of the language.

Newly registering WELL projects will automatically be registered to use the enhanced options. Previously registered projects that are in the WELL certification process can opt to use any or all of the WELL Features, but will not be required to do so.  

Nine additional requirements have been added to WELL. The requirements were collected from extensive peer review of WELL v1 and represent international best practice in health and the built environment. A side-by-side comparison is available so that projects currently pursuing WELL can understand any changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What changed between WELL v1.0 and the published updates?

A. The enhanced options for WELL v1 fall into four categories: 1) organization of requirements focused on better usability; 2) simplification based on user feedback, including additional options to provide more flexibility in achieving the feature requirements; 3) addition of new requirements to the standard to strengthen the system; and 4) clarification, or minor adjustments to improve some of the language.

As part of the enhancements, WELL typologies have been renamed:

  • New and Existing Buildings has been renamed from New Construction. 
  • New and Existing Interiors has been renamed from Tenant Improvement.
  • Performance Verification, formerly WELL Commissioning, differentiates WELL from other rating systems and ensures through onsite testing that the health and wellness requirements in WELL are being delivered.

Q.My project was already registered under v1.0 when the refinements were published—is there a diagram that explains the updates and my options on a per-Feature basis?

A. Yes, we have prepared a document that details the enhancements feature by feature. The feature comparison table can be found here.

Q. Does a project that was already registered under v1.0 have to do anything?

A. No. Projects that have previously registered may use either the original v1.0 guidance or the newly published enhanced options. Newly registering projects will automatically be registered to use the enhanced options. 

Q. Am I still able to register a new project but not be held to the updated guidance?

A. No, all new project registrations will use the enhanced options. To register your project, visit WELL Online.

Q. How often is the WELL Building Standard anticipated to change?

A. Similar to LEED, addenda and feature interpretations will be published on a regular cycle.

Q. What conditions precipitate a change to the WELL Building Standard?

A. As part of the development process, IWBI collects feedback from early users of WELL. As a result, enhanced options to the standard offer simplifications, language enhancements and additional clarifications to certain Feature requirements. Market feedback helps refine WELL in real time, to make it as practical and useful as possible for users.

Q. Who developed the WELL Building Standard? Who works on improvements and updates?

A. The WELL Building Standard is the product of seven years of research and development consulting, with a three-phase expert peer review process encompassing a scientific, practitioner and medical review.

WELL was developed by integrating scientific and medical research and literature on environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes and demographic risk factors that affect health with leading practices in building design and management. WELL also references existing standards and best practice guidelines set by governmental and professional organizations where available, in order to harmonize and clarify existing thresholds and requirements.

WELL was launched in October 2014, following the completion of the comprehensive expert peer review.

WELL was developed in collaboration with leading physicians, scientists and industry professionals. Learn about our peer reviewers

Q. Who handles WELL certification?

A. WELL is third-party certified through IWBI’s collaboration with Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which administers LEED certification and the LEED professional credentialing program.

Research shows that wellness can be a very personal experience. WELL is a comprehensive set of Features that covers the various individual needs of building occupants while also building a common foundation for measuring wellness in the built environment.

Examples of the enhanced options to WELL

1. Clarification

Example 1:
V1.0
Average sound pressure level from outside noise intrusion does not exceed 50 dBA.

V1 enhancements:
Average sound pressure level from outside noise intrusion is less than or equal to 50 dBA.

Example 2:
V1.0
The following is in place in ventilation assemblies:

V1 enhancements:
If recirculated air is used, the following requirements are met in ventilation assemblies in the main air ducts for recirculated air:

2. Additions

Example 1: 
V1.0
Feature 36 Water Treatment

Part 1: Organic Chemical Removal
Part 2: Sediment Filter
Part 3: Microbial Elimination
Part 4: Water Quality Maintenance

V1 enhancements:
Same Parts 1 - 4, added new Part below to include Legionella control

Part 5: Legionella Control
A point-by-point narrative describes how the building addresses Legionella, and includes the following:

a. Formation of a team for legionella management in the building.
b. Water system inventory and production of process flow diagrams.
c. Hazard analysis of water assets.
d. Identification of critical control points.
e. Maintenance and control measures, monitoring, establishment of performance limits and corrective actions.
f. Documentation, verification and validation procedures.

3. Organization

Example 1:
V1.0
All non-porous surfaces designated as high-touch (refer to Appendix Table A1) are coated or comprised of a material that meets the following:
a. EPA testing requirements for antimicrobial activity.
b. Abrasion-resistant and non-leaching.

V1 enhancements
All countertops and fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens, and all handles, doorknobs, light switches and elevator buttons are one of the following:
a. Coated with or comprised of a material that is abrasion-resistant, non-leaching and meets EPA testing requirements for antimicrobial activity.
b. Cleaned with a UV cleaning device that has output of at least 4 mW/cm², used as recommended by manufacturer.
[this new (b) used to be (e) in a different Optimization; it was just moved into this Optimization]

4. Simplification

Example 1:
V1.0
e. Nitrogen dioxide less than 53 ppb.

V1 enhancements
[Removed Requirement based on feedback from peer reviewers and field experience concerning challenges related to limits of detection]

Example 2:

V1.0
An incentive plan with at least 2 out of the following is developed and implemented:
[lists a through e]

V1 enhancements
A plan with at least 2 out of the following is developed and implemented:
[lists a through e, added new f below]

f. A fitness program in which it is demonstrated that at least 30% of regular building occupants utilize free access to gyms or fitness classes.

The feature reference table containing a side-by-side comparison summary is also available here: Feature Reference Table