- Daniel Hiza
What Is WELL Certification and Why Is it Important?
Facility managers, do you know what the WELL Building Standard is? As the demand for green and health initiatives continues to increase, many businesses are looking for ways to provide tangible evidence that they adhere to wellness and sustainability practices. There are many benefits to seeking certification, but one of the most important is that it shows prospective tenants, employees, and visitors that your building and business take health and wellness seriously.
The WELL building standard is one of the most important certifications for building health and safety today. This certification outlines dozens of preconditions and optimizations that must be met to achieve different levels of certification, making it clear to residents and guests that the building is a healthy and safe place to be. Learn more about the WELL building standard, how it can benefit your business, and what you need to do to achieve it.
What Is the WELL Building Standard?
The WELL building standard is a set of guidelines that a building is encouraged to follow to enhance the physical and mental health of those who spend time within its walls.It was developed by the International Well Building Institute with a focus on human health.. The main principles outlined in v2 of the WELL framework as follows:
Equitable: the principles can benefit building occupants from different backgrounds, including vulnerable populations.
Global: the interventions outlined are practical and feasible across the world.
Evidence-based: the wellness standards are validated by research and large bodies of evidence.
Technically robust: the principles use valid and verified strategies, and third parties approve them.
Customer-focused: the interventions come with a helpful platform and coaching that assists users with implementing key strategies.
Resilient: the standards constantly improve by implementing new, evidence-based findings.
Ultimately, the goal of the WELL building standard is to provide a clean, healthy, and safe environment within a building for those who spend time there. Although organizations can encourage healthy environments on their own, seeking WELL certification shows that the building truly adheres to the standards necessary to receive approval and certification.
The WELL framework was updated in quarter 3 of 2022, with the previous version, v1, last being updated in 2020. V1 had seven concepts instead of 10, but V2 leans more heavily on scientific evidence and validation from experts.
What Are the Requirements for WELL Certification?
To receive WELL certification, a building must meet 24 preconditions across ten categories. Preconditions include basic health and wellness measures, like access to clean drinking water, a smoke-free environment, and ergonomic workstations for employees. When all 24 preconditions have been met, a healthy building can earn points for optimizations in each of the 10 categories.
The Building Standard categories are as follows:
Air quality is essential to the health and well-being of those living and working in a building. The preconditions in this category include satisfactory indoor air quality, ventilation design, construction pollution management, and a smoke-free environment. Beyond that, points can be earned for advanced air filtration solutions, air quality monitoring, and more.
Access to clean water for drinking and hygiene use, as well as fundamental water quality indicators and management, are the preconditions for this category. Further points can be earned for enhanced water quality management, hygiene support, and other areas that support well-being.
This category requires the availability of fruits and vegetables and adequate nutrition labeling for its preconditions. Beyond that, points can be earned for nutrition education, local food production options, and options to accommodate special diets.
Adequate light is essential for mental and biological health, which is why the preconditions for this category include adequate light exposure and good lighting design. The optimizations for the light category include daylight simulation, glare control, and occupant lighting control.
Providing ergonomic workstations and facilitating movement throughout the building are the required preconditions in this category. Optimizations for movement include providing physical activity spaces and equipment, active furnishings, and more.
This category focuses on proper temperature control, and the only precondition here is that the temperature throughout the building stays comfortable for most people at all times. Beyond that, temperature zoning, humidity control, individual thermal control, and more can earn additional points.
Loud buildings can be bad for ear health and make it hard to focus, so sound mapping is the precondition for this category. This requires the building to have a plan to address noises that can cause interior spaces to be less comfortable. Other measures that can earn points include installing sound-reducing surfaces, providing sound barriers, and more.
Building materials must meet the preconditions for this category. This includes monitoring usage for any hazardous material, CCA, and lead management plans that were also built with acceptable levels of hazardous ingredients... Further optimizations include VOC restrictions, waste management protocols, and more.
The preconditions for this category include mental health promotion and design features that feel natural and inspirational. A building can offer mental health services, restorative opportunities, stress management, and more to earn more points.
Buildings that promote health and well-being, offer an integrative design, and have adequate emergency preparedness will meet the preconditions for the community standard category. Those that offer new parent support, emergency resources, health services, and benefits can earn more points in this category.
Although there aren't any preconditions in this category, buildings that provide WELL certification education, have a green building rating system, and offer gateways to well-being can earn more points.
What Are WELL Certification Levels?
The WELL certification process offers four distinct levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. To earn bronze status, a building must earn 40 points across any of the categories outlined above, in addition to meeting all preconditions. To earn a silver certification, a building must achieve 50 points and at least one point in each of the 10 concepts. The gold certification level requires 60 points and at least two points for each of the 10 concepts.
Finally, the platinum level is reserved for buildings that earn a whopping 80 points and at least three in all 10 concepts. Earning any level of WELL certification is a major achievement, but we hope that someday, every organization will shoot for platinum status to enhance the health, safety, and well-being of those within their building's walls.
Why Is WELL Certification Important?
To some, a WELL certification may not seem like a worthwhile investment. While it can take lots of resources to get a building up to the standards outlined by the certification process, there are numerous benefits for all entities involved.
Because of the increased demand for sustainability wellness initiatives, especially from younger generations, buildings with certifications like the WELL certification stand to be more marketable than the competition. Residential buildings with this certification are likely to see fewer vacancies, and they will almost certainly see a reduction in building operation costs due to better energy and water conservation, among other measures.
People no longer want to work for any company that provides a paycheck. They want a great working environment, a supportive community, and a fulfilling position. A workplace in a WELL-certified building can provide all of those things and more, and it can make recruiting new employees far easier for organizations like yours. Additionally, healthy workspaces with clean air, adequate lighting, and sound temperature control can help employees be more productive and get sick less.
For the Environment
Buildings that carry a WELL certification are less harmful to the environment by using fewer resources and reducing pollution. This can foster a greater sense of well-being and safety among employees and tenants and encourage them to do their part to keep the building as eco-friendly and healthy as possible.
These are just a few of the dozens of benefits seeking a WELL certification can provide, but trying to adhere to the many preconditions and standards on your own can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we're here to help!
Pritchard Industries Can Help Your Health and Safety Efforts
We are committed to helping our clients achieve their health and safety goals while protecting the environment. Our wide array of commercial cleaning services is tailored to meet your residents' and employees' various needs and preferences.
Additionally, we have several LEED-accredited staff and are a GreenSeal-certified company. Our cleaning methods minimize negative impacts on humans and the environment. Our employees take health and wellness seriously by using the latest sanitation techniques, keeping your building tidy and organized, adhering to proper waste management protocols, and ensuring we keep your building safe, secure, and efficient.
If you're ready to get started with Pritchard Industries, please get in touch with us today!