Frequently Asked Questions
The WELL Building Standard® is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in buildings. WELL is a performance-based system for measuring and certifying features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. It marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research – harnessing the built environment as a vehicle to support human health and well-being.
WELL is grounded in a body of research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants. WELL Certified™ spaces can help create a built environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns and performance of its occupants.
WELL sets performance requirements in seven categories, or Concepts, relevant to occupant health and well-being in the built environment: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Each WELL Feature is designed to address issues that impact the health, comfort or knowledge of occupants through design, operations and behavior.
The WELL Building Standard can be applied across many real estate sectors, and the current WELL v1 is optimized for commercial and institutional office buildings. WELL is further organized into Project Types of New and Existing Buildings, New and Existing Interiors and Core and Shell, which take into account the specific set of considerations that are unique to a particular building type. Pilot Programs are now available for new market sectors including retail, multifamily residential, education, restaurant and commercial kitchen projects.
A WELL Certified project has the potential to add measurable value to the health, well-being, productivity, and happiness of building occupants. By placing people at the heart of design, construction, operations and development decisions, we have the ability to add value to real estate assets, generate savings in personnel costs, and enhance the human experience, health and well-being. Prioritizing WELL also provides the opportunity to stand at the forefront of innovation in the sustainable and healthy building movement.
WELL Certification is positioned to provide added value for commercial and Institutional projects. Physical workplace is one of the top three factors affecting performance and job satisfaction. Personnel costs significantly outweigh the costs for design and construction and maintenance and operations. Addressing occupant health channels resources towards reducing the largest line item in the 30-year costs of a building – the personnel – offering a meaningful return on investment.
Pioneered by Delos®, the WELL Building Standard® is the culmination of seven years of rigorous research in collaboration with leading physicians, scientists and industry professionals. WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute® (IWBI®), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. IWBI has joined forces with Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the same organization that administers LEED certification, to provide third-party certification for WELL.
Registration: Fees are paid at the time of project registration, and range from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on the project type and size.
Certification: Fees begin at $4,000 and range from $0.08 to $0.23 per square foot, depending on project type and size. Volume pricing is available for projects that exceed ten million square feet.
Performance Verification: The minimum cost for Performance Verification is approximately $9,000 and ranges from $0.15 to $0.35 per square foot, depending on the type and size of the project. Volume pricing is available for projects that exceed ten million square feet. Travel and accommodation for the WELL Assessor during the on-site testing are included in the Performance Verification fees.
For more information on WELL fees, visit wellcertified.com/certification.
WELL works harmoniously with LEED and the Living Building Challenge, and is expanding alignment with other international leading green building systems like Three Star, Green Star and BREEAM.
IWBI welcomes projects to pursue both LEED and the Living Building Challenge alongside WELL in order to promote both environmental sustainability and human health. A number of overlapping features exist between WELL and both LEED and the Living Building Challenge, which are described in detail in the appendices of the WELL Building Standard.
In addition, third-party certification for WELL is provided through the International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) collaboration with Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the same organization that administers LEED certification.
The WELL Building Standard® v1 for Commercial and Institutional Offices and pilot standard addenda for Education, Retail, Multifamily Residential, Restaurant and Commercial Kitchen are available for download on WELLcertified.com/standard.
WELL Certification begins with registration through WELL Online. Upon registration, GBCI will assign a WELL Assessor to the project as part of its third-party certification review. WELL Assessors ensure that a project complies with WELL Building Standard requirements, and are responsible for a project's documentation review and Performance Verification. See below for more information about WELL Assessors.
The next step in the certification process is Documentation Review, in which the documentation required for each feature being pursued is submitted to GBCI. The WELL Assessor then performs a technical review of the submitted documentation. Two rounds (preliminary and final) of review are included. Once the project passes the documentation review phase, the project may move on to Performance Verification, in which a series of post-occupancy performance tests are performed.
Once it is demonstrated through these two steps that the project has achieved all of the applicable Preconditions and desired Optimizations, the project achieves WELL Certification.
Recertification ensures that the project maintains the same high level of design, maintenance, and operations over time. WELL Certification is valid for three years. In order to maintain a current certification, WELL Certified™ projects must undergo Performance Verification again and apply for recertification to verify that the building continues to perform in accordance with the requirements of the WELL Building Standard before the end of the three-year Certification period. During the Certification period, annual data must also be submitted for the features that require more frequent reporting.
Looking to learn more? The WELL Certification Guidebook has additional details about each step in this certification process.
Documentation requirements include annotated project documents and drawings in addition to letters of assurance from the project team. Projects must submit all required documentation before Performance Verification can begin. The documentation required for each feature is described in the Verification Matrix, included in the WELL Building Standard.
Performance Verification ensures that the building is performing as intended. This consists of a site visit, during which the WELL Assessor may complete visual inspections to verify documentation, and performance tests to evaluate air and water quality, noise, light and temperature levels, and other environmental parameters applicable to WELL requirements. Upon completion of Performance Verification, the project receives a WELL report that provides a feature-by-feature assessment of WELL requirements.
There are three levels of WELL Certification: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver level certification is achieved by meeting 100 percent of the WELL Preconditions applicable to the Project Type in all Concepts. Gold level certification is achieved by meeting all of the WELL Preconditions, as well as 40 percent or more of the Optimization features. Platinum level certification is achieved by meeting all of the WELL Preconditions, as well as 80 percent or more of the Optimization features. The WELL Certification Guidebook provides additional information on WELL v1 levels of certification, pilot levels of certification and scoring.
Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) provides third-party certification for the WELL Building Standard, including oversight and training of WELL Assessors who are responsible for assessing/reviewing your project. WELL Assessors ensure that your project complies with WELL Building Standard requirements, and are responsible for both the documentation review and Performance Verification phases of WELL Certification.
The WELL Assessor can also assist in answering technical questions about WELL features. While the project’s WELL AP and/or sustainability consultant is the primary source for answering technical questions, the WELL Assessor can clarify WELL requirements in instances where the answer is not available in published guidance and/or the project has a unique or complex scenario.
For those familiar with the LEED certification process, the WELL Assessor fulfills a role similar to the LEED Certification Reviewer under LEED Proven Provider, with enhanced availability to respond to upfront questions from the project team.
The WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) credential signifies knowledge in human health and wellness in the built environment, and specialization in the WELL Building Standard. To become a WELL AP, all candidates must pass the WELL AP exam. Developed using GBCI’s rigorous test development best practices, the exam is designed to test a candidate’s competency to perform the duties of a WELL AP. The exam is based on the expertise of leading practitioners in the field of design, health and wellness in the built environment.
Be among the leaders in your industry who are committed to placing health and wellness at the center of building design and performance. Learn more about the WELL AP credential and register for the exam at wellcertified.com/well-ap. For information about educational programs and workshops that introduce the key elements and requirements of the WELL Building Standard, please visit wellcertified.com/learn.
WELL APs and sustainability professionals serve as consultants, while WELL Assessors provide technical support and perform a certification review function.
Your WELL AP is part of your project team and the primary source of WELL expertise for your project. They provide consulting services to the project and may provide direction on specific implementation strategies and other design inputs to comply with the technical requirements of WELL features, including recommendations for specific products and materials.
The WELL Assessor can also assist in answering technical questions about WELL features. While the project’s WELL AP and/or sustainability professional is the primary source for answering technical questions, the WELL Assessor can clarify WELL requirements in instances where the answer is not available in published guidance and/or the project has a unique or complex scenario.
WELL-registered projects have been registered with the intent of earning WELL Certification for their project once it is complete. A project that is registered can only be referred to as WELL-registered, and is not authorized to use the WELL Certified™ seals.
When describing WELL-registered projects:
- DO SAY:
- Project name is registered to pursue WELL Certification, WELL Core and Shell Compliance, WELL Certification – Pilot Program, or WELL Multifamily Residential Certification – Pilot Program, as applicable.
- Upon completion, this project will apply to become WELL Certified™, WELL Certified™ – Pilot Program, or WELL Multifamily Residential Certified™ – Pilot Program, as applicable.
- This project is registered to pursue WELL Certification, WELL Certification – Pilot Program, or WELL Multifamily Residential Certification – Pilot Program, as applicable through the International WELL Building Institute™.
- DON'T SAY
- Project name is WELL Gold Registered. Note: Projects cannot register to achieve a specific level of certification.
- This project is WELL Qualified, Compliant, Reviewed, Enrolled, Verified, Designed, Certifiable, etc.
Before making any public statements about your registered project, mark your registered project “public” in WELL Online. Public projects benefit from publicity opportunities, such as inclusion in the WELL project directory. A project that maintains the election as a private project cannot market or represent itself to the general public as pursuing the WELL Building Standard. IWBI also will not be able to verify your registration to media and outside parties if your project is listed as private. More information about the distinctions between public and private designations can be found in the WELL Certification Guidebook (p. 18). If you’d like to change the status of your project, enlist a project administrator to update the privacy information in WELL Online.
Once your project is officially registered through WELL Online (including the completion of the registration form and payment of all registration fees) to pursue WELL Certification and marked public, go ahead and make it known!
Distribute a Press Release
A press release template can be found in the PR Guidelines for Registered Projects. NOTE: Before making any superlative claim that your project is the first, second, etc., of any type in any geographic area, contact IWBI communications at [email protected] for verification.
There’s an active WELL community on social media! Promote your achievement and join IWBI’s conversation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and be sure to tweet @WELLcertified with the hashtags #WELLBuildingStandard and #WeAreWELL to let us know about your work.
Profile Your Project on our Website
IWBI welcomes you to showcase your project as a leader in advancing healthy buildings on the WELL project directory. In order to be featured, send a 100-word project description and photo to [email protected].
To request the complete PR Guidelines for Registered Projects, email [email protected]. We also encourage you to consult the IWBI Trademark Policy and Branding Guidelines online for additional guidance on logos, branding, and how to reference your WELL-registered project.
Once registered, you will be able to schedule your test session at a Prometric testing center near you. Exam sessions are available year round through Prometric test centers worldwide. If you would like to locate your nearest testing center and view availability, please visit prometric.com/gbci and click on “Locate”.
To be eligible to sit for the WELL AP exam, applicants must be at least 18 years of age. There are no other prerequisites to sit for the WELL AP exam, though prior WELL project experience or exposure is highly recommended. The WELL AP exam has been constructed using GBCI’s rigorous test development best practices. It is built on the expertise of leading practitioners in the field of design, health and wellness in the built environment and is designed to test a candidate’s competency to perform the duties of a WELL AP. In particular, candidates should be well versed in the information found in the WELL Building Standard and the Certification Guidebook. For more information about how to prepare for the exam, please see the WELL AP Candidate Handbook, which includes a list of references, as well as the test specifications.
You can confirm, cancel or reschedule an exam on the Prometric website.
You may reschedule or cancel your exam up 30 days prior to your exam without a fee. If you reschedule or cancel an exam fewer than 30 days but more than 3 days before the scheduled date, you will be charged a $50 fee. You cannot reschedule your exam after midnight on the third day before the scheduled appointment. (For example, Wednesday appointments cannot be rescheduled after Sunday at 11:59 p.m. EST)
When you reschedule an exam, you will receive a new email confirmation. If you do not, please contact Prometric immediately to confirm your exam was rescheduled.
|Days until exam||Refunds||Reschedules|
|30 days or more||Yes||Yes|
|3-29 days||Yes ($50 fee)||Yes ($50 fee)|
|2 days or less||No||No|
Prometric.com/gbci is available 24 hours per day for scheduling, rescheduling and confirming exam appointments. To schedule an exam, you will need to have first applied and registered with GBCI. To reschedule, cancel, or confirm, an exam appointment, you will need your Prometric-issued 16 digit confirmation number.
A candidate must earn a scaled score of 170. The scaled score for all GBCI exams ranges from 125 – 200. The scaled score is calculated by taking the candidate’s raw score (total number of correct questions) and mapping it onto a standardized scale between 125 and 200, with the minimum competency threshold always mapped to a scaled score of 170. Scaled scoring is used as a best practice to manage and report the potential differences in difficultly across different exam forms.
Candidates will receive the results at the test center immediately following the test.
If your attempt was unsuccessful you may register again in the same way as initial registration. After three unsuccessful attempts, however, you must wait 90 days before submitting a new registration to GBCI. Candidates must pay the registration fee for each exam attempt.
Yes, there are CMP requirements for the WELL AP. There has been an overall effort to align the WELL and LEED APs as much as possible. For more information about CMP requirements for both the WELL and LEED credentials, please visit GBCI CMP Guidebook.
The WELL workshop, along with other study resources available on wellcertified.com can help you prepare for the WELL AP exam. To be fully prepared, candidates should also have a thorough understanding of the September 2015 releases of the WELL Building Standard v1 and the WELL Certification Guidebook. For more information please see the WELL AP Candidate Handbook which lists source documents and provides the test specifications.
Addenda are changes and improvements to the WELL Building Standard to help clarify, correct, interpret or amend requirements. Project teams are held to the addenda published prior to their project’s registration date. We encourage project teams to also follow addenda published after their registration date, as they provide new pathways to certification and helpful, timely clarifications.
Addenda include amendments, interpretations, alternative adherence paths (AAPs), equivalencies, and verification types.
- Amendments are changes to the language of the WELL Building Standard.
- Interpretations are precedent-setting formal inquiries that can be applied to WELL projects.
- Alternative adherence paths (AAP) and equivalencies include proposals submitted by project teams and reviewed by GBCI and IWBI. Published AAPs offer new pathways to achieve WELL features.
- Verifications types are updates to the type of documentation or on-site checks required in the certification process to confirm the requirements have been met. The verification type for each feature and part is contained in Appendix D of the WELL Building Standard.
Addenda are published on a quarterly basis.
Projects registered for WELL Certification should reach out directly to their WELL Assessor with questions.
All other groups may contact the technical team behind the WELL Building Standard at [email protected].
Please use the January 2017 version of the WELL Building Standard and WELL Certification Guidebook as your primary study resources when preparing for the WELL AP Exam. To learn more about how you can prepare for the exam you can also review the GBCI Candidate Handbook.
Updated versions of the ATP exam prep guide and GBES practice exams will be available in July.