WELL Tip: How to create WELL documentation

WELL Tip: How to create WELL documentation

Thursday, September 6, 2018
/ By:
Tori Shepherd

WELL Certification
WELL documentation

As a project administrator or WELL team member, you may be wondering how to create WELL compliant documentation, what constitutes a high-quality document and how to communicate this information to other team members. To help you start the process, we’ve compiled everything you need to know on generating and submitting WELL documentation.

Achieving WELL Certification involves two key processes – Documentation Review and Performance Verification – which together evaluate if a project meets the requirements of the WELL Building Standard™.

Upon registering a project for WELL Certification, project teams will begin gathering documentation as evidence that WELL features are incorporated into the building’s design, operation and policies. Due to the holistic nature of WELL, the project administrator will likely coordinate the creation of WELL documentation amongst numerous team members of various expertise. This template can help sort the WELL features into typical responsible parties. The project administrator is ultimately responsible for the quality of the documents submitted and is expected to complete a thorough quality control check of all documentation and forms prior to submission for review.

Types of documentation:

The main types of documentation are annotated documents, letters of assurance and general documents.


1. Annotated Documents: Annotated documents refer to existing project documents that are marked up to provide additional information to indicate how WELL features have been met. Annotated documents include design drawings (e.g. floor plans), operations/cleaning schedules, policy documents (e.g. employee handbooks), signage (e.g. smoking bans), and professional narratives. More information on how to effectively create annotated drawings is outlined in the following section.

2. Letters of Assurance (LOAs): Separate letters of assurance must be submitted by the appropriate professional overseeing the implementation of a specific WELL feature during design, construction or operations. For instance, the project owner, architect, contractor and MEP Engineer will be required to confirm that various features have been met by signing the Letters of Assurance templates available in the Resource Library, or a similar verifying document.

3. General Documents: While annotated documents and letters of assurance are tied to specific feature requirements, general documents are not linked to the verification of a specific feature. Instead, they are required as a general document for the certification process at large. These documents do not need to be annotated but are used to inform IWBI and the WELL Reviewer of details of the project. For example, these may include the signed WELL Certification Agreement, the project checklist, representative floor plans and/or project maps, or proof of construction completion (e.g. a certificate of occupancy).

Note, the above documentation outlines criteria to be submitted by project teams. During Performance Verification, the performance testing agent will be responsible for taking photographs, conducting performance tests on-site, sending samples to labs for testing, analyzing data, and submitting results for Performance Review by the WELL Reviewer.


Strategies for creating documentation:

1. Utilize templates available in the Resource Library:

  • Tip: Simply download available templates, fill out the required fields with project-specific information and upload these documents to the project’s WELL Online Account. Most teams prefer to use the Letters of Assurance templates rather than to generate their own letters!
  • Tip: Make sure to download the templates that match your project type, as well as the addenda version of the WELL Building Standard that you registered under. To determine which addenda applies to your project, simply reference the box in your WELL Online dashboard titled “Access Digital Standard,” as shown below.

2. Utilize existing documents:

  • Tip: Projects can often utilize existing design, operations and policy documents to submit as WELL documentation. This may involve highlighting certain sections or adding specific language to demonstrate that specific WELL requirements have been met.
  • In order to assess the caliber of existing documents, project administrators may choose to reach out to the architect, cleaning staff, facility manager, food service vendor and/or human resources professional for existing protocols, time logs, policy documents, manuals, architectural drawings or manufacturer spec sheets.
  • Tip: For added clarity, try adding a key or legend to existing design drawings to indicate that specific colors or symbols are intended to reference WELL requirements.

3. Create new templates for team members to fill out:

  • Tip: If documents require input from a specific team member, it is helpful to specifically outline WELL requirements in a word document and indicate where the team member should insert project specific information. This will guarantee that all WELL requirements are addressed even if a team member is less familiar with WELL.  
  • For example, Feature 53, Part 2: Brightness Management Strategies requires a professional narrative that describes strategies for maintaining luminance balance in spaces, which takes into consideration at least two of the four components referenced in feature language. If requesting input from a lighting consultant, it is helpful to copy and paste all four components of Part 2 into a word document, as well as provide blank space or multiple lines to indicate where the lighting designer should input relevant information, as demonstrated below.

4. Ask your WELL coaching contact if there are any available sample documentation:

  • Tip: If you would benefit from referencing an example of how to comply with verification requirements, your WELL coaching contact may be able to share sample documentation or templates to help you get started.

Note, various examples have been created for v1 features and IWBI plans to create sample documentation for v2 features in the coming months. Stay tuned!


Submitting documentation:

Documents can be uploaded to WELL Online as they are prepared. Once all documents are uploaded, the project administrator is expected to perform a thorough quality check before submitting for review in WELL Online. Once a project submits all design and protocol documentation attesting to conditions in-place, the WELL Reviewer will begin a preliminary Documentation Review. The project will be notified when all documents have been reviewed and approved by GBCI. If all documents are found to be satisfactory, then the project may proceed to Performance Verification, which ensures that the space is not only designed for health, but that it is actually performing for health.

It is important to remember that select WELL features require annual submissions to verify the continued implementation of WELL requirements. For more information on annual reporting documents, project teams may reference the webcast: Leveraging new tools for documentation and annual reporting.

More information on Performance Verification and WELL Certification can be found in the Performance Verification Guidebook and the WELL Certification Guidebook.

Tori serves on the Market Solutions team at the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). As a WELL Faculty member and LEED Green Associate, Tori utilizes her expertise in environmental sustainability and human health as she provides technical assistance and customer support to project teams and industry professionals.