WELL Tip: Navigating preconditions for the Air concept

WELL Tip: Navigating preconditions for the Air concept

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
/ By:
Madeleine Evans

WELL Tips

Have you ever approached a WELL precondition and wondered where to begin? Not to fret, we’ve launched a Navigating preconditions series to help project teams get started incorporating a number of preconditions from different WELL concepts into their project’s design and policies.

What are the building blocks of the Air concept?

WELL’s Air concept is focused on design and operational strategies that can be implemented to improve indoor air quality. Key terms include particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, asthma and sick building syndrome.

Project teams looking to refresh their knowledge of subjects referenced throughout the Air concept are encouraged to consult the Glossary for more information.

Who are the relevant stakeholders?

Depending on project scope, it may be helpful to consider engaging the following team members when implementing the Air features:

  • Architect
  • Building Owner
  • Cleaning Services Vendor
  • Contractor
  • Facilities Manager
  • Mechanical Engineer

How should you approach a feature?

  1. Understand the feature intent and background. Here you can learn how requirements aim to address particular challenges associated with human health and well-being. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Air WELLography on the Build WELL App.

  2. Read feature requirements and associated verification methods.

  3. Determine stakeholders.

  4. Consult the FAQs: your question may have already been answered!

  5. Explore equivalent standards, codes or practices that may be more applicable to your project type and location.

  6. Explore published alternative adherence paths (AAPs). If all other options are exhausted, consider submitting a new AAP, outlining a strategy different from feature requirements, but that you believe meets the feature intent.

  7. If you are also pursuing another certification program, consult the BREEAM, Green Star, LEED or Living Building Challenge Crosswalks for guidance on dual certification overlaps and efficiencies, such as features that align to provide partial equivalence or full compliance.

  8. Seek inspiration from IWBI’s Article Library, such as WELL Story: Air at Haworth Kerry Center, Shanghai

  9. Consult Standard Citations for additional information. Find them by expanding the tab at the bottom of each feature on the Digital Standard.

  10. If you still have questions after consulting these resources, reach out to your WELL Coaching Contact for guidance and technical support.

 


FEATURE 3: VENTILATION EFFECTIVENESS

Intent

To ensure adequate ventilation and high indoor air quality.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, the strategies below may be helpful to evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 3:

  • Consult your mechanical engineer to determine whether the project complies with the ventilation rates outlined in ASHRAE 62.1-2013 or another approved equivalent standard. If the project meets the referenced standard from a different year, ask your engineer to evaluate whether there is a difference between the ventilation rates in the pursued standard and that referenced.
  • Identify which spaces will need demand controlled ventilation. Work with your mechanical engineer to establish a plan for how this system will be installed and operated.
  • If pursuing Part 1b, locate the nearest ambient air quality monitoring station. If within 1 mile of the project, analyze the available data to determine if ambient air quality is compliant. If no station is within 1 mile, consider working with a third-party testing company to set up monitoring equipment within 1 mile of the representative location.

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Do we have control over our HVAC system?
  • Do our current ventilation rates to comply with ASHRAE 62.1 or another approved equivalent standard? If not, what changes must we make to comply?
  • Where is the nearest ambient air quality monitoring station?
  • Do we have any spaces that qualify for demand controlled ventilation, based upon square footage and occupancy?
  • When did the HVAC system last undergo testing and balancing? 

Relevant Resources


FEATURE 4: VOC REDUCTION

Intent

To minimize the effect of VOCs in building materials on indoor air quality.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, the strategies below may be helpful to evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 4:

  • Work with your architect to reach out to manufacturers of recently installed building materials to inquire if they meet the relevant VOC content/emissions standards.
  • For new projects, consider including Feature 4 requirements in the specifications for those building materials outlined to ensure that the contractor selects compliant products.
  • Evaluate published equivalencies to determine if the products specified/installed meet an approved equivalent standard.

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Of the materials included within Feature 4, have any been installed for over a year?
  • Are the architect and contractor informed of the specific requirements outlined within Feature 4?
  • Of these building materials, which, if any, have already been specified? Can we embed these requirements into the relevant product specifications to ensure that only compliant products are selected?
  • Do our building materials meet any of the approved equivalent standards listed?

Relevant Resources


FEATURE 5: AIR FILTRATION

Intent

To remove indoor and outdoor airborne contaminants through air filtration.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, the strategies below may be helpful to evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 5:

  • Work with your mechanical engineer to evaluate the existing air filtration system or filtration system to be installed.
  • If the system will be or is using recirculated air, evaluate the viability of an additional carbon filter versus a combination particle/carbon filter (depending on the rack space that is available).
  • Confirm with your landlord or facilities team that air filters will be maintained per manufacturer's guidelines and that records and evidence of this maintenance will be kept.

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Does my project’s HVAC system use recirculated air? Will the project only be using outdoor air?
  • Is there rack space available to accommodate an additional carbon filter in the future, if necessary?
  • Is there rack space available to accommodate a combination particle/carbon filter in the future, if necessary?
  • If the existing system cannot accommodate either an additional carbon filter or a combination particle/carbon filter, can we alternatively commit to purchasing and installing stand-alone air purifiers with carbon filters, if necessary, per the published AAP?
  • What filters are currently installed/specified to filter outdoor and/or conditioned air?
  • Who inspects our filters? How often? Are records currently kept?

Relevant Resources


FEATURE 6: MICROBE AND MOLD CONTROL

Intent

To reduce mold and bacteria growth within buildings, particularly from water damage or condensation on cooling coils.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, the strategies below may be helpful to evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 6:

  • Discuss with your mechanical engineer whether installing ultraviolet lamps or implementing a quarterly maintenance plan is the more feasible option to minimize mold growth.
  • Compare the hard costs associated with ultraviolet lamp installation with the operational costs associated with quarterly inspections and cleaning.

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Where are the cooling coils located in my project’s HVAC system?
  • How many months per year is my cooling system in use?
  • Are ultraviolet lamps employed on the cooling coils and drain pans?
  • Are the cooling coils already being inspected? If so, how often?

Relevant Resources


FEATURE 9: CLEANING PROTOCOL

Intent

To reduce occupant exposure to pathogens, allergens and harmful cleaning chemicals.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, the strategies below may be helpful to evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 9:

  • Evaluate Table A1 in detail to determine exactly which high-touch surfaces are included in your space and must be addressed within the cleaning protocol.
  • Evaluate Table A4 in detail to determine exactly which components are relevant to your project and must be addressed within the cleaning protocol.
  • Incorporate WELL Feature 9 requirements into your request for proposal from cleaning services vendors to ensure that your future cleaning protocol is compliant.
  • Request further information, including cleaning logs, purchasing plans, etc. from your cleaning services vendor to evaluate how current products and protocols compare with WELL requirements.

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Has the project already hired a cleaning services vendor? If so, are they familiar with the WELL requirements that must be met?
  • What cleaning products are currently used or will be used?
  • Are SDS (safety data sheets) available to determine cleaning product compliance with listed GHS (Globally Harmonized System) Hazard Statements in Table A4?
  • Does the cleaning services vendor provide comprehensive program training to employees?
  • Are dated cleaning logs kept or will they be kept? Where?

Relevant Resources


Madeleine Evans is on the Market Solutions team at IWBI, drawing upon her deep understanding of the built environment’s impact on human health and sustainability to help guide project teams through the WELL Certification process. Passionate about social justice and committed to expanding IWBI’s community impact, Madeleine spearheads IWBI’s corporate volunteer initiative and spends her free time with New York Cares teaching New York City children to read.