Innovation features: How to shape a proposal—and the future of the healthy building movement

Innovation features: How to shape a proposal—and the future of the healthy building movement

27 Jun 2017
/ Gayathri Unnikrishnan and Sarah Welton

Innovation has long been the driver behind WELL. That’s why we aim to recognize projects that go above and beyond to implement strategies that address human health in a novel way. WELL Innovations can set your project apart and give you the opportunity to pioneer creative solutions that can advance and evolve healthy building.

Project teams can earn up to five Innovation features for their WELL project. To be awarded an Innovation, the project’s proposal must include:

  • An explanation of the health concern addressed
  • A description of how the proposed strategy intends to impact human health
  • Scientific, medical and industry research supporting the strategy

Each Innovation submission is analyzed based the strength of the proposal and supporting documentation. Project teams that include a WELL AP can receive innovation points as well.

Check out these strategies from some of our most inventive project teams.

Educating the public

Healthy building education is a key part of WELL’s mission. In order to receive an Innovation feature for education programs, projects must implement at least two different strategies. Projects have achieved educational Innovations by creating signage highlighting WELL features, developing educational outreach programs and distributing newsletters focused on health interventions in buildings and communities.

One project team approached the challenge of educating their employees by placing placards explaining WELL concepts throughout the space. These placards enabled employees to learn more about the impact of their office on their health and wellness.

Projects seeking to educate the public can even request inclusion in citywide WELL tours, which allow the people to visit and learn about several WELL Certified buildings in a given locality. To receive credit for offering WELL tours, project teams must submit a schedule of anticipated tours, annotated drawings detailing all of the WELL highlights and tour marketing promotion plans—including the WELL Tour Request form.

Promoting biodiversity

Promoting biodiversity in projects goes above and beyond the requirements for biophilia in the WELL offering occupants access to greenery and natural elements while simultaneously restoring biodiversity in the urban environment. The BiodiverCity label—which addresses all development projects in urban, suburban or natural sites—is an innovative tool for assessing how WELL Certified projects incorporate biodiversity.

A WELL project in France earned an Innovation for submitting the BiodiverCity Label. The urban project site supports both people and planet by offering breathtaking gardens which host 56 different plant species. Employees take time from their busy workdays to rest and relax in the gardens, which flow from every floor of the building.

Projects pursuing an Innovation for a BiodiverCity Label must submit evidence of the award, issued by the International Biodiversity and Property Council (IBPC), within their innovation feature documentation.

Supporting nonprofit organizations

Acts of generosity and charity have been associated with beneficial health and wellness outcomes. Volunteering and supporting charities provide pathways for individuals to express their values, bridge gaps between different socio-economic groups and strengthen social relationships.

A recent remarkable and successful Innovation was submitted by a WELL project that donated an entire floor to a youth empowerment nonprofit. By incorporating the non-profit into their WELL project, employees gained increased access to volunteer opportunities and the nonprofit’s beneficiaries gained the chance to interact with employees in a professional environment. This proposal went above and beyond the requirements for altruism in WELL.

A project considering pursuing an Innovation for supporting nonprofit organizations can submit details on their volunteer program, substantiation on how they go above and beyond the altruism requirements in WELL and evidence of the impact their support has on the nonprofit organization.

WELL’s Innovation features continue to evolve and change. And, with every successful new Innovation, WELL expands its concept of what health in our buildings and communities should look like—now, and in the future.

Gayathri Unnikrishnan is on the Standard Development team at IWBI where she draws upon her experience in the construction industry to manage the processes for innovations, alternative adherence paths and equivalency proposals. With her background in lighting design and engineering, Gayathri serves as the subject matter expert for lighting and is passionate about human centric design in the built environment. In her free time Gayathri enjoys going on long walks and exploring neighborhoods around New York City.

Sarah Welton is on the Technical Solutions team at IWBI, where her role draws upon her education and experience in real estate, public health and personal wellness to help create WELL spaces around the world. In her free time, Sarah is usually on her bike or wishing she were.