Integrating public health data and building design

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Q4 2018 Addenda Webcast

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IWBI Launches WELL v2

(NEW YORK -- May 31, 2018) – Launched today worldwide and celebrated with fanfare in New York, Beijing, London and Sydney, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) unveiled the WELL v2 pilot, the next version of its pioneering WELL Building Standard, the first rating system to focus exclusively on the impacts of buildings on human health and wellness.

This second iteration includes a full suite of enhancements that advance IWBI’s global aim to build a healthier future for all. WELL v2 is informed by key lessons learned from the nearly 1,000 projects that are registered or certified in 34 countries across the world. Users can register for WELL v2 starting today.

“Since our launch in 2014, we’ve learned a lot from the thousands of WELL users, practitioners and researchers who have embraced WELL as a tool for making buildings mechanisms to deliver health and wellness benefits for all,” said IWBI Chief Product Officer Rachel Gutter. “WELL v2 is our effort to consolidate the latest knowledge, leading research, new technology and advanced building practice to extend the benefits of WELL buildings to more people in more places.” 

A truly global rating system, the intent behind WELL v2 is to empower project teams to pursue the interventions that matter most to their project and their community without sacrificing WELL’s comprehensive and evidence-based approach and commitment to performance verification.  Refinements and enhancements to the rating system includes:

  • A new feature set with fewer preconditions and weighted optimizations.
  • A consolidation of multiple pilots into one WELL, and improvements to the “All Projects In” approach introduced last year.
  • New pathways to achieve intents, with a laser focus on feasibility for existing buildings and commercial interiors.
  • An optional early phase review for projects wishing to earn a WELL D&O designation that affirms and celebrates progress toward WELL Certification.
  • A new approach to performance verification allowing projects to contract local providers.
  • A commitment to equity through market- and sector-specific pricing, a focus on localization and the introduction of a dynamic scorecard.
  • A comprehensive and significant adjustment to pricing, including a new subscription option.

“The IWBI team has worked tirelessly to aggregate the expert contributions of our worldwide community of users, researchers and thought leaders whose hands-on engagement with     WELL v2 is evident throughout,” said IWBI CEO and Chairman Rick Fedrizzi. “The result is a rating system that’s simpler, clearer, focused on the aspects that have the greatest impact, and designed for improved return across every metric. I’m especially excited about the significant cost efficiencies that have been built in, which will help spur uptake and increase accessibility to WELL for more market sectors.”

 “With these changes, WELL v2 sharpens our ability to drive far-reaching change to buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive,” said Fedrizzi.  “We’re looking forward to the market’s feedback as we move through this pilot phase.”

For more information about WELL v2, visit us at https://v2.wellcertified.com.     


About IWBI

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is leading the global movement to transform our buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive.  The WELL v2 pilot is a recently launched version of its popular WELL Building Standard, which will continue to be offered to the market, and the WELL Community Standard pilot, a district scale rating system that sets a new global benchmark for healthy communities.  WELL is focused exclusively on the ways that buildings and communities, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness.  IWBI convenes and mobilizes the wellness community through management of the WELL AP credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and wellness everywhere.



WELL Quotes

North America

"At Structure Tone, we've made it our mission to put our clients first. From employee wellness and productivity to patient care, we've seen firsthand the benefits of human-centric spaces," said Rob Leon, Senior Vice President at Structure Tone. "That's why when it came time to redesign our own space, we knew from experience that WELL was the obvious choice, providing our employees with a space that promotes their health, wellness and productivity throughout the day."

"The well-being of our employees, customers, and communities have always been a priority at TD Bank. As early adopters of WELL in our retail and corporate spaces, in both the U.S. and Canada, we know there is immense value in designing and operating spaces that advance health and wellness. Regardless of location or building type, each of TD's WELL Certified spaces has had a positive impact on the people who use it. We are proud to be a part of the WELL movement, advancing health and environmental initiatives." - Jacquelynn Henke, Sustainability & Innovation Director, TD Bank

"Teknion has always advocated for continual improvement and we continue to challenge ourselves with better human performance and outcomes. A pioneer in healthy design practices with 5 projects currently enrolled in the WELL program, we've utilized WELL across all of our company goals - guiding our product design and development and helping us create better spaces for ourselves and the customers we serve." - Tracy Backus, Director of Sustainable Programs at Teknion

"We explored WELL certification at our own workplace because we wanted to create the healthiest possible environment for our studio to work and learn. The research- and outcome-based standards were an important tool for measuring the success of our wellness design goals.” – Rick Cook, Co-founder CookFox Architects

"The health and wellness of our employees is a priority for JLL.  By leading the industry as one of the first WELL certified spaces in New York for our new downtown office, we have demonstrated the value of investing in our people as well as learning from this experience to advise our clients on the best strategies to ensure their spaces lead to healthier and happier people.  We spend over 90% of our time indoors.  It is our responsibility to ensure the spaces we provide improve the quality of life of our employees and clients while also demonstrating energy and environmental leadership." - Dana Robbins Schneider, LEED Fellow, Managing Director, Energy and Sustainability Projects, JLL


Virginie Scaglia at HRO France, said: “WELL Certification provides an excellent platform to communicate our commitment to providing a healthy workplace and upholding the highest environmental standards in building design, construction and operations. As we began our journey, we knew we wanted SCENEO to be at the forefront of cutting-edge building science and technology. WELL Certification has helped us to gain a competitive edge in Paris’s real estate market, highlight our leadership in the sustainability movement, and, most importantly, improve the health and well-being of tenants and employees. WELL was a natural fit for us.”

“When we moved to our new workplace in central London, we were determined that the experience for our staff would be markedly different from before. We used WELL as part of a broader strategy to create an environment that promotes health, facilitates physical activity and increases collaboration. What emerged was an organisational transformation that has helped to improve employee satisfaction and productivity and deliver on our sustainability commitments. As a result, our Landsec workplace is the first commercial office in the world to achieve both WELL Certified Silver and BREEAM Outstanding, setting a global benchmark for healthy, sustainable office space,” said Ed Dixon, Sustainability Insights Director, Landsec.

Chris Hiatt, Landid director, said: “As the first building in the UK to achieve WELL Core & Shell Certification, The Porter Building sets a new bar for the design and development of offices. The workspace will positively impact business performance, through staff retention and attraction, well-being and productivity and will meet the aspirations of the very best talent. Wellness has become an increasingly important part of workplace strategies in recent years, reflecting a wider cultural shift towards greater healthier lifestyles. We expect that in five years’ time all new office buildings will be seeking WELL Certification, in the same way that new buildings today are expected to adhere to the highest sustainability standards. Well-being will simply become part of the language of office design and we are very proud to be playing a leading role in that transformation.”

"Here in the Nordics we have the purest outdoor air and nature combined with an active lifestyle. However, we have shut the door on them indoors where we spend 22 hours a day. As the first WELL Certified office in the Nordics, we at Green Building Partners want to lead the way in the Nordics and show that it's important to design indoor spaces that are not only environmentally and energy-friendly but also human-friendly. The strength of the WELL Building Standard is that it's holistic. The concepts helped us to design an office and ways to work that comprehensively improve our employees' well-being, creativity and productivity," said Konsta Tuokko, Senior Consultant at Green Building Partners. 

“CBRE is strongly committed to employees' health and wellbeing having a lot of benefits and policies that make our life easier. When we expanded in 2015 we decided to pursue WELL Certification and include all the requirements from the beginning of the project. Despite been located in a financial district with high pollution, we have succeeded by creating an oasis in the center of Madrid. Our offices are a privileged environment in which biophilic design is the workplace core key. The operating area seems like a forest with internal partitions simulating trees and the pitch area the cabin. As in nature, space has been designed without right lines and daylight overwhelms the entire space. Meeting rooms are very peculiar because each one of them is inspired by different Earth landscapes with the typical furniture of that corner of the world. The intent was to create a comfortable space with natural materials in order to feel at home; therefore, productivity has increased by 30%.” - Patricia Fuertes Doyagüez, Architect and WELL AP, CBRE Madrid


“WELL has been attracting projects across all sectors to pursue certification in China in the past three years," said Wuzhao Qiu, Head of Product Research and Development at Poly Real Estate Group. "Poly's commitment to building green for the sustainability of the planet and human health is perfectly aligned with WELL's human health-centric philosophy." Poly was one of China's early adopters of WELL with five projects totaling over 500,000 square feet in space pursuing WELL v1 Certification. Qiu said Poly is excited to evolve with WELL and commits more of its projects for WELL Certification under v2.


Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, CEO of Mirvac, said, "Mirvac’s sustainability strategy, This Changes Everything, sees us continually push the boundaries of how we design and construct buildings, ensuring we’re leaders in sustainable development. We are extremely proud to be at the forefront of WELL Certification in Australia and aspire to continue to set the benchmark for innovative, sustainable and healthy workplaces across the country. As a leading Australian property group, we can better support our customers’ goals to build healthy workplaces of the future.”

Lendlease Chief Executive, Property, Kylie Rampa said: "Better performing buildings, in environmental and social terms, deliver a number of direct economic benefits to investors and tenants, including more productive workplaces and precincts that generate greater value for all. Generating improvements to a city’s physical environment, its economic base, and the social and economic conditions of its residents is a critical goal for Lendlease and WELL helps us ensure we deliver on our promise. As a company, we’re strongly committed to developing next generation workplaces for our people, tenants and investors, where healthy outcomes create long-term value.”

Celebrating a year with WELL v2

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Using public health data to inform building practice

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At the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™), we see buildings as a platform for public health intervention. Recognizing the importance of a data-driven approach, IWBI not only integrates public health data but also supports other public health initiatives. In rolling out the WELL country briefs and feature ranking tables, we want to highlight some of the ways that the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) uses public health data and how projects can use this data to inform their project health goals.

The history of public health and buildings

Since the mid-1800s, public health professionals have recognized the intersection between the environment and human health, beginning with the risk reduction approach in the Victorian Sanitation and Healthy Cities Movement1,2. In the early 20th century, advances in drugs and surgery led to the health as individual behavior approach and discussions about the connection between the environment and human health faded into the background. At this point in time, health was viewed as a function of individual lifestyle choices and not the environment as a whole3.

In the 1980s, researchers in the U.S., U.K. and northern Europe began to challenge the health as an individual behavior approach. Their work on the impact of natural landscapes on health outcomes led to the health-promoting environment approach4,5. However, they quickly began to realize that telling people to eat right and exercise more was not very useful when there were numerous barriers to doing so, such as a lack of safe or convenient walkways, or access to healthy foods. This realization led to the socio-ecological approach, which encourages the incorporation of human and environmental factors when searching for public health solutions6.

WELL brings a holistic, socio-ecological approach to building design, policy and operations. This comprehensive focus on well-being ensures that we are creating spaces that help people thrive.


WELL country briefs and feature rankings: Linking public health data to building level design, policy and operations

Apart from the risk reduction approach, there hasn’t been much public health research published on building-level health outcomes. Most population-level health trend data and risks don't address buildings - where we spend over 90% of our time. And while WELL is a global standard, we recognize that trends in population health vary by location. In order to accurately address public health concerns, we need to deploy strategies on a local-scale and understand how these interventions may impact larger public health issues.

IWBI addresses this gap in the WELL country briefs and feature rankings. The WELL country briefs link WELL v2™ pilot features to national health data on mortality and disability rates from diseases and injuries that arise due to major risk factors. This data is part of the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The feature rankings table is a recommended list of features that project teams should consider prioritizing based on their potential impact on human health, according to national-level data as measured by the GBD. By connecting WELL v2 features to the largest and most comprehensive dataset used by policymakers worldwide, we can help project teams build WELL v2 scorecards that address relevant national health issues.  

Check out our recent webinar to learn how your project might use the WELL country briefs and feature rankings to inform your project health goals: View the recording.

It is also important to note that national-level data trends may differ from local or building-level trends. The use of national-level data is a major first step for developing regional customization pathways within WELL.


Interested in learning more?

Explore our frequently asked questions

What is the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)?

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, or IHME, is an independent population health research center at the University of Washington. It provides rigorous and comparable measurements of the world's most important health problems and evaluates strategies used to address them.

What is the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD)?

The Global Burden of Disease study (GBD) is a systematic effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss due to diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex and geography - in every country in the world. It is an approach to global descriptive epidemiology, that uses the best quality global public health data available to date.

What is included in the WELL country briefs?

  • An introduction to WELL, the GBD, the IHME and key health metrics used in the GBD.

  • An explanation of the methodology behind linking features in WELL v2 to modifiable risk factors (MRFs) in the GBD.

  • A country-specific summary that identifies top modifiable risk factors (MRFs) and their associated health burden and a list of features in WELL v2 that address the top 10 MRFs.

  • A feature ranking table with ordinal ranks of all WELL v2 features based on their potential impact on human health.

  • Caveats to the WELL feature ranking methodology.

  • Glossary of key terms.

What are the feature rankings?

Feature ranking are recommendations of which features project teams should prioritize based on their potential impact on human health, according to national-level data from the GBD. Features are ranked based on how much health loss (as measured in Disability-Adjusted Life Years, DALYs) is associated with the MRFs that the features address. In other words, features that address top-ranked MRFs (as measured by the GBD) in a country may potentially have a greater impact on health than features that address MRFs that are lower ranked.

Only WELL features that have been linked to modifiable risk factors in the GBD are included in the ordinal feature rankings. This does not mean that other WELL features do not have an impact on health and well-being, or that they are not evidence-based. It simply means that they are not currently included in the GBD database.

When would I use the WELL country briefs?

Projects that wish to address nationally-important health issues, as measured by the GBD, will want to refer to the WELL country briefs. This may be of particular interest to projects that want to apply for state or national funding, link to larger health issues, or understand the long-term health impacts of short- and medium-term interventions included in the WELL Building Standard.

What if my country isn’t listed?

If your country is not listed, you can explore one of the five socio-demographic index (SDI) groups that your country falls under.

Why are some WELL features not linked to GBD data? Does this mean they don’t have a health impact?

Only WELL features that have been linked to modifiable risk factors in the GBD are included in the ordinal feature rankings. This does not mean that other WELL features do not have an impact on health and well-being, or that they are not evidence-based. It simply means that they are not linked to a modifiable risk factor that is currently in the GBD database (see table 1).  Many cutting-edge interventions have only been studied at a local building level, and thus they do not have datasets at the GBD. For example, there is solid research on the impact of daylight on circadian rhythms, or access to nature on mental health, but these are not currently measured by many of the datasets that the GBD draws upon (such as census data).

My local health issues don’t match the national ones. What data should I use when deciding which features to pursue in my WELL project?

Local health data and other factors should always be used, if available, over national-level data. We see the WELL country briefs as a first step in systematically linking WELL features to public health data.

Looking at the country health data on IHME’s website, I see some differences in the top MRFs and their associated burden when compared to the graphs in the country briefs for the same country and year. Why is that?

Estimates by the GBD change each year. For example, a data update in September 2018 that released 2017 data also changed the data slightly for each year from 1990 to 2016. Updates to data models are made based on new data sources. These improvements in data modeling are applied to the entire time series (1990 to the most recent year) each time a new round of GBD is published.


WELL Tip: How to customize your WELL v2 scorecard

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One of the key enhancements to the WELL v2TM pilot and the new WELL online platform is the development of a custom scorecard, which allows project teams to selectively choose WELL features that are most applicable to a project’s scope, occupant needs and wellness goals. When a project team first considers WELL, they initiate this ‘customization’ process.

Getting started with WELL v2 involves 4 easy steps.

  1. Start a Project and answer all prompts

  2. “Start building” by choosing a scorecard format from the project lobby

  3. Customize your scorecard by adding or subtracting feature parts

  4. Enroll!

Once officially registered, project teams gain access to WELL’s robust project tools, dedicated coaching team and technical resources to evaluate new strategies, adopt WELL requirements and continue to evolve their scorecard selections.

Optional tips for customizing your WELL v2 Scorecard:

Take advantage of the recommended scorecard

You will have the option to begin with a recommended template or a “blank canvas.” The recommended template is pre-populated with curated features that are most relevant to the project details, such as location, ownership, scope of construction and types of spaces within the project. The project may continue to build on this framework as they enter the “Implementation Phase” of WELL Certification.


Add & subtract

In short, customizing is simply adding or subtracting WELL criteria from your scorecard. This allows you to mix and match WELL optimization feature parts to align with your project’s unique wellness goals.

As you explore your scorecard, you’ll notice that the recommended features appear in black font, while the unselected optimization features appear in gray font. It may also be possible that only certain parts within a feature have been selected, in which case the box next to the part number will be blue and include a checkmark.

Scorecard rules & requirements

As you adjust the scorecard selections, be mindful of the following point allocations:

  1. Scorecard: A total of 100 points + 10 innovation points are available to each project. The point tracker the in top right corner will automatically adjust as you make changes to your scorecard.

  2. Concept: Each concept must include a minimum of 2 points (or 1 point for Core projects) and a maximum of 12 points.

  3. Feature: All optimizations have maximum point-values. All parts in optimizations hold a point-value equal to or less than the optimization maximum. Projects may pursue parts under the optimization to accrue points up to the maximum point-value indicated in the dark blue box next to each optimization.

  4. If you exceed the point maximums or fail to meet the minimums, the system will alert you with a caution sign () indicating where revisions are necessary.


Considerations when making adjustments

When evaluating feature parts to keep or to replace with unselected feature parts, consider the project goals, the impact of each feature on those inside your project and the feasibility of implementing each design, policy or maintenance strategy.

  1. Goals: Why is your project pursuing WELL? Perhaps you can target these goals by selecting features that align with these specific health outcomes, which are specified in each feature intent and background. You may also find inspiration by exploring WELL Project Profiles or by reading more about the value of WELL in our WELL Tip article: Key strategies for making the business case for WELL.

  2. Impact: The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington provides national-level data for countries around the world estimating disease burden and associated risk factors. Where applicable, click the globe icon () to see how a WELL feature addresses a data-driven risk factor in the GBD database. Achieving WELL feature parts that address the most pressing risk factors in your country will maximize the impact that your project’s WELL Certification will have on the health of those who inhabit, work in, and visit your project.

  3. Feasibility: The project portal allows for collaboration amongst team members, who are able to leave comments and track progress within the digital scorecard by clicking on any feature part. If the project encounters challenges with feature requirements, consider pursuing an “alternative strategy,” such as published alternative adherence paths (AAPs) or equivalencies. You may also search for helpful pointers in our WELL Tip articles!


Remember, you may continue to adjust the scorecard as necessary throughout certification process until your project is ready to submit documentation. All the tools you need have been dynamically incorporated into your digital scorecard or project lobby, but do not hesitate to reach out to your WELL coaching contact for additional guidance. Start building!


WELL Workshop Advanced - Barcelona

in Barcelona, ES
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WELL Workshop Advanced - A Coruña

in A Coruña, ES
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WELL Addenda (Japanese)

Q1 2019

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WELL Addenda (Spanish)

Q1 2019

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