It takes healthy materials to build WELL

It takes healthy materials to build WELL

Thursday, November 22, 2018

WELL Concepts
MATERIALIZE session at Greenbuild

What better event is there than Greenbuild for WELL™ professionals to meet and interact with manufacturers to encourage the development of the materials they need to create healthier spaces? During Greenbuild Chicago, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) was excited to be a leading voice for the important conversations threaded through the “MATERIALIZE” theme, anchored by GIGA.

Either inside the WELL Certified showrooms of our manufacturer partners at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, or at the “Material” lounge where swarms of Greenbuild attendees gathered up, IWBI’s roundtable discussions really hit it off with manufacturers and materials experts excited about an upcoming, collaborative era.

As IWBI President Rachel Gutter noted, one of the core pillars of the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) is its requirements that take into account the materials used in our buildings. In the WELL v2™ Pilot, we added the specific Materials concept, and the manufacturers are key to making it easier for practitioners to implement WELL features.

That’s why IWBI kicked off our engagement and conversations with the manufacturing industry. In fact, earlier this week, we brought together thought leaders, industry stakeholders and practitioners in Chicago’s showroom spaces that manufacturers graciously shared with us. We view such conversations and roundtables with the industry as opportunities for co-creating initiatives that enable broader adoption of WELL. With the additional conversations we held in the exhibit hall, we embarked on the latest chapter in our journey to make the world a healthier and happier place. We are so glad to see the enthusiasm coming from the manufacturing industry and materials world to be aligned with the expectations of WELL practices.  


Manufacturers have been adopting WELL with enthusiasm in their spaces. Thus far, there have been eight WELL Certified projects and 17 WELL registered projects in the manufacturing sector.

At IWBI, we believe that transformation needs to be conducted from the ground up.

Our vision is to improve transparency and recognize innovation across all facets of the manufacturing industry. Even though IWBI does not endorse or certify specific products, there are many ways we can collaborate with manufacturers to lift healthy material baselines. Our manufacturer partners’ active participation in these conversations underscores the importance of meaningful engagement with the industry.

As we design comprehensive ways to work with manufacturers, we are eager to learn from industry partners about what is needed to collaborate effectively. During this initial round of discussions, among many other findings, we heard that:

  • Many manufacturers are working towards getting their own spaces to be WELL Certified so that they can attract and retain better talent.

  • Some progressive thinking manufacturers are already deep-diving into WELL requirements on related products, investing in research and modifying their products so that they stay abreast of the latest on healthy product requirements. As one manufacturer representative said during a discussion: “We look to use WELL as a vehicle to improve the quality of products and be able to quantify and show to our customers.”

  • Some are making substantial efforts in collaborating with IWBI to extend our educational and credentialing programs to our shared audience, especially among the architects, designers and other sustainability professionals.

  • Certain industry associations of manufacturers or merchandisers expressed their eagerness to share their rich research results with IWBI to lift the benchmarks for healthy materials and healthy products.

Here at IWBI we rely on relationships with our community members to enhance and elevate the science behind our standard. As we continue to engage and collaborate with the manufacturer industry, we will gain a more holistic understanding of healthy materials, and learn the most effective ways to support our stakeholders in the adoption of WELL.

Yan Tai plays an important role on the global marketing and communications team at the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). With her combined experience in marketing, public relations, journalism, and international business development, Yan supervises all the marketing and communications efforts in Asia, leading the region to become a top performing market for IWBI.