WELL Tip: Navigating preconditions for the Comfort concept

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WELL Tip: Navigating preconditions for the Comfort concept

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
/ By:
Madeleine Evans

JLL’s Shanghai Office at HKRI Taikoo Hui, a WELL Platinum Certified space, provides employees with sit-stand desks, as well as adjustable computer screens and workstation chairs.

Have you ever approached the WELL Comfort concept and wondered where to begin? Not to fret - we’ve launched a Navigating preconditions series to help project teams get started incorporating preconditions from the WELL Comfort concept into their project’s design and policies.

What are the building blocks of the Comfort concept?

WELL’s Comfort concept establishes thermal, acoustic, ergonomic and olfactory comfort requirements that are designed to create distraction-free, productive and comfortable indoor environments. Key terms include A-Weighted Decibel (dBA), Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC), Reverberation Time (RT) and Noise Criteria (NC).

Project teams looking to refresh their knowledge of subjects referenced throughout the Comfort 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 comfort features:

  • Acoustical Consultant
  • Architect
  • Ergonomist
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Owner

How should you approach a feature?


  1. Understand the feature background and intent. 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 Acoustics and Thermal comfort WELLographies 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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Seek inspiration from IWBI’s Articles Library, such as Top 5 takeaways from the Thermal Comfort #WELLography.

  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.




To reduce physical strain and maximize ergonomic comfort and safety.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, below are a few strategies that you can evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 73:

  • Reach out to manufacturers of workstation chairs installed or specified to confirm whether they are meeting HFES 100 standard or BIFMA G1 guidelines (or an approved equivalent standard) for seat height and depth adjustability.

  • Understanding the space’s design, evaluate whether paired standing and seated height desks, adjustable height sit-stand desks or desk-top height adjustment stands are the best option in order for the project to achieve 30% sit-stand workstations. Desk-top height adjustment stands are a lower-cost solution when a more comprehensive ergonomic workstation cannot be provided.

  • If cost and other design factors hinder the project’s ability to install 30% sit-stand workstations at the onset, consider pursuing the strategy outlined in the published AAP that includes a future purchase commitment and educational campaign.

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Do chairs have adjustable height and depth? If so, do they comply with HFES 100 standard, BIFMA G1 guidelines, or approved equivalent?

  • Based on the intended aesthetic, what sit-stand option will satisfy the WELL requirements as well as the project team? 

  • If the project is existing and with limited opportunity to replace workstations, can the team instead make a future purchase commitment alongside implementing an educational campaign?

Relevant Resources



To promote occupant productivity and ensure a sufficient level of thermal comfort.

Strategies to Consider

While not mandatory, below are a few strategies that you can evaluate when developing your own project-specific approach to meeting Feature 76:

  • Consult your mechanical engineer to determine whether the project complies with the thermal comfort requirements outlined in ASHRAE 55-2013, 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 requirements in the pursued standard and that referenced.

  • Consider transient spaces (ex: lobby, stairwell) as well as spaces used for sedentary or near-sedentary physical activity levels when evaluating the project’s compliance with ASHRAE 55-2013 (or approved equivalent).

Questions to Drive the Conversation

  • Is my project naturally ventilated, mechanically ventilated or mixed-mode?

  • Do we have control over our HVAC system?

  • Does our space comply with ASHRAE 55, or an another approved equivalent standard? If not, what changes must we make to comply?

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.