At Green Reason, we strongly encourage all of our clients to incorporate occupant well-being and engagement as part of an overall sustainability plan in order to make their buildings truly sustainable. After all, buildings are for people so why shouldn’t we build the best buildings we can for the occupants – not just for the planet.
What is WELL
The WELL Building Standard, from the International Well Building Institute is focussed on health and well-being in buildings and communities globally, with the intention of improving the health and experience of the people who occupy them. The buildings we occupy every day can have a profound effect on how we feel and perform. IWBI claims that 92% employees working in WELL Certified buildings say the applied standard has positively impacted their health and wellbeing.
How Does WELL Fit In?
We are very passionate about the core values of occupant health and wellbeing. We have always believed that buildings are for people and that programs like LEED® are often so focused on the environment that there’s a gap in creating healthy spaces. LEED is changing to focus more on healthy materials – rather than just materials that lessen the impact on the planet – as companies are starting to focus on the cost of people. However, it is still bulding/site-focused, leaving the door open for occupant-focussed standards.
WELL and LEED can work side-by-side to complete the picture.
Is WELL the Next Trillion-Dollar Industry?
It is difficult to say whether WELL will garner the kind of mass market support LEED has. It is currently very costly to certify, there are requirements for ongoing monitoring, testing and reporting and the rating system lacked the same resources for project teams in the early stages. This said, the core message is sound and benefits to occupants makes WELL guidelines worth following regardless. Whether the number of certified projects will increase to the point where LEED is in the market is still very difficult to predict.
How About Fitwel?
There is another new rating system focusing on occupant health and wellbeing called Fitwel, that was created as a joint initiative led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA), and is administered by the Centre for Active Design. Fitwel is more accessible to clients than WELL from both a cost and ease of use standpoint. Our client Menkes is an early adopter of this system.
Occupant Well-being is in Demand
The market is starting to demand that buildings be healthier. What WELL and Fitwel represent is already having an impact. These standards provide excellent guidelines for occupant well-being, regardless of the level of support they may achieve. Occupant health and wellbeing can and should be integrated into designs to build a truly sustainable building.
Learning More About WELL
If you would like to learn more about WELL and how it might figure into your sustainable building projects, please feel free to ask us any questions.