WELL Tip: The ins and outs of performance verification

WELL Tip: The ins and outs of performance verification

Thursday, September 21, 2017
/ By:
Melanie Koch


Achieving WELL Certification involves two processes – Documentation Review and Performance Verification – which together evaluate if a project meets the requirements of the WELL Building Standard™. While building design is verified through the Documentation Review phase, Performance Verification ensures that the space is not only designed for health, but that it is actually performing for health.

Performance Verification is unique to WELL and is one of the most important milestones in the certification process. It verifies that the environmental parameters impacting people’s health and well-being are achieved, and provides assurance and transparency that the site is performing as intended. This third-party performance testing is key to illuminating potential gaps and opportunities for improvement.

Are you curious about what happens before, during and after Performance Verification? Check out our guide to Performance Verification to find out:

What is Performance Verification?

Performance Verification is a data-driven, on-site, third-party assessment of your project to confirm compliance with WELL. To find out which type of verification is required for each of the feature parts, check out Appendix D in the WELL Building Standard (WELL v1) or the WELL v2 Appendix: Verification Methods (WELL v2 pilot). You can also check out the Feature Types and Verification Methods available on the digital version of the WELL Building Standard.

Who is involved in the Performance Verification process?

For WELL v1 projects, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) is the sole provider of on-site performance testing services. For WELL v2 projects, these performance tests for various air quality, water quality, lighting and acoustic parameters will be carried out by GBCI or a WELL Performance Testing Organization that employs GBCI-trained WELL Performance Testing Agents.

It is important to coordinate with all members of your project team when you schedule on-site performance testing and data collection. A project representative must be “on call” to assist the WELL Performance Testing Agent  throughout the entire Performance Verification process, and other members of your team should be prepared to step in to help answer the technical questions relevant to their specific area of expertise.

When does Performance Verification take place?

Performance Verification is scheduled once documentation has been approved through the Documentation Review process. Additionally, 50% occupancy must be achieved for New and Existing Buildings and New and Existing Interiors projects. Details on the conditions necessary to schedule can be found within the Performance Verification Guidebook, including project type specific considerations. 

What are the steps project teams should take to prepare for Performance Verification?

1. 45 days in advance: Conduct optional pre-testing

As you prepare for your official Performance Verification, you may wish to consider conducting a preliminary benchmark test to identify areas of concern and remediate prior to the official visit from the WELL Performance Testing Agent. This is an optional strategy to ensure your project is ready, and not required. The best time for testing will depend on the project’s construction schedule, taking into account the time it will take to process the results and remediate if necessary. If you do choose to conduct pre-testing, review and share the Performance Verification Guidebook with your project team so correct methodologies are followed and proper equipment is used.

2. 30 days in advance: Schedule your date

GBCI requests around 30 days between when documentation is approved and Performance Verification is conducted. This allows for coordinating lab equipment and materials, booking travel if necessary and scheduling with the Performance Testing Agent(s). If there are constraints around when the project will be available for testing, communicate these constraints to your WELL Performance Testing Agent as early in the process as possible.

The WELL Performance Testing Agent will send out a questionnaire asking a few questions before scheduling. Some questions may include: Is there a limited window for testing? Are there certain days the project is not available? Are there restrictions the Performance Testing Agent should be aware of? These online forms need to be completed and returned prior to the on-site visit. Because Performance Verification includes environmental testing, we recommend postponing any unusual activities that may impact on-site conditions.

3. 15 days in advance: Complete a walk-through

At this stage we recommend completing a walk-through and inspecting all features that you are pursuing on the project. It’s also important to conduct a comprehensive review of the Final Documentation Report so you are aware of which features will be assessed on-site.

Remember, while only some features may be designated as “Pending Performance Verification,” all features are subject to spot checks!

4. Seven days in advance: Inform occupants

As Performance Verification approaches, we recommend informing occupants about WELL and Performance Verification, and providing guidelines to ensure they don’t disrupt testing activity.

Around this time, your WELL Performance Testing Agent will reach out again to schedule a pre-Performance Verification call (if they have not already). On the call, they will discuss with you the areas they will need to access, the overall agenda, the time period for their visit and other site-specific considerations.

What can project teams expect on the day of Performance Verification?

During Performance Verification, the WELL Performance Testing Agent will follow the previously discussed agenda as closely as possible. Occasionally, they will make adjustments to the schedule to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. The WELL Performance Testing Agent will verify all features that were pursued by the project, in line with the Performance Verification Guidebook.

Once complete, the WELL Performance Testing Agent will discuss how the Performance Verification went overall, and will confirm if all features were available and accessible for review. Please keep in mind that formal feedback cannot be provided at this time, as the Performance Testing Agent must complete the full standardized review and quality control process.

What happens after Performance Verification?

It takes approximately 40-45 business days to receive all of the results from the laboratory. Once received, the Final WELL Report will be issued and sent to the project administrator. If all features are achieved, the project administrator will just need to confirm receipt and accept the certification.

If all features are not achieved, don’t worry! Curative action is available for projects that need to retest for a specific Precondition, or wish to retry for an Optimization. You won’t be alone in this process; your coaching contact from IWBI will be available to support your WELL consultant or project administrator in brainstorming solutions. To learn more about this process, review the Curative Actions and Appeals section within the WELL Certification Guidebook.

Once you’re certified, spread the word! Check out the marketing resources to celebrate your achievement and showcase your certified project on the WELL project directory.

This article has been updated on October 25, 2018 to reflect changes made to the Performance Verification process.

Drawing upon her experiences in environmental health, Melanie serves on the Market Solutions team at the International WELL Building Institute. She works to support IWBI's mission by providing technical support to project teams, developing tools and resources to facilitate the certification process, and leading workshops and presentations to help educate the industry on the WELL Building Standard.