WELL Tip: Your step-by-step guide to submitting equivalencies

WELL Tip: Your step-by-step guide to submitting equivalencies

Thursday, September 13, 2018
/ By:
Melanie Koch

WELL Certification

Here at IWBI, we embrace creative thinking and innovation. This core value allows us to address the complex ways in which our buildings contribute to health and wellness. We strive to make our global standard flexible and provide interventions that are feasible, achievable and relevant across many locations and contexts throughout the world. To support our overarching and ongoing localization efforts, we offer pathways to pursue alternative strategies for meeting the intent of WELL features. Alternative Adherence Paths (AAPs) and Equivalency Proposals (EPs) are two methods for submitting alternate compliance requests. These proposals undergo review to ensure that the alternate pathway is aligned with the WELL feature and health intent.

How are AAPs different from EPs?

If your project encounters a unique, nuanced or complex element that makes it difficult to comply with a specific WELL requirement, we encourage your team to consider submitting an Alternative Adherence Path (AAP). Alternative Adherence Paths involve a new strategy or pathway for achieving the feature.

If you would like to utilize an equivalent requirement that is more relevant to the country or region where your project is located, petition for its use through an Equivalency Proposal (EP). An EP is a formal request submitted by a project team to receive approval for the substitution of an equivalent standard, code or practice in place of WELL feature requirements.

If you are unsure about whether you should submit an AAP or EP, reach out to your IWBI coaching contact (for registered projects) or technical@wellcertified.com (for not-yet-registered projects).

How do I submit an Alternative Adherence Path or an Equivalency Proposal?


To learn how to get started, review our step by step guide for AAPs in this WELL Tip article.


  1. Check out standard.wellcertified.com to see if your standard, code or practice has already been reviewed. You can find this information within the ‘Equivalency’ tabs in the feature page of the digital standard.

    1. If it’s already been approved: That’s great! Projects are welcome to utilize published approved equivalencies. Please reference the approved equivalencies you are using when submitting documentation. (Note: Some equivalencies are only available to projects in specific locations and will be stated as such within the ruling.)

    2. If it’s not included in the published equivalencies: Read on for how to submit a new proposal.

  2. Download the form, or navigate to the ‘AAP / EP’ tab within your Project Page in WELL Online.

  3. Complete the form with as much detail as possible. Pass along all of the expertise and background that you have on the proposed code, standard or practice. This information will be helpful during the review process. You might also consider including supplemental documents to further support your submission.

  4. Be patient. Our team takes 20-25 business days to review your proposal and issue a ruling back to you.

What is an example of when to submit an Equivalency Proposal?

Feature 72 provides a great example for when a project team may wish to submit an Equivalency Proposal. If your project uses a local code that seeks to promote equity by providing buildings that are accessible and usable by people of all physical abilities, then you are welcome to submit an equivalency proposal to use this code in place of the feature requirement. Please review the approved equivalencies first, as your local code or standard may have already been approved.

For another example, check out the published Equivalencies for Feature 03. This feature includes a few examples of Equivalency Proposals that have been approved and not approved.

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.