Healthy Buildings Impacting the Workplace: What you need to know about WELL Certification
There’s a lot of buzz right now about WELL Certification in commercial real estate. From installing ENERGY STAR office equipment to designing ergonomic interiors, strategies for creating healthy places to conduct business is gaining momentum at warp speed.
Is your building sick? It very well might be—which is why the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) in 2014 launched an initiative to heal offices and commercial spaces worldwide. Today, over 530 projects encompassing over 100 million square feet are applying WELL, according to IWBI.
In 2015, CBRE headquarters in Los Angeles became the first commercial property in the U.S. to receive WELL Certification, as did CBRE’s Vancouver headquarters in the same year. Ashley O’Neill, a CBRE Canada executive, explained the significance of the achievement, stating, “More people are becoming increasingly committed to living more active and healthier lifestyles. WELL Certification is at the intersection of two very powerful trends . . . truly at the leading edge of office design.” Structure Tone’s new 82,000-square-foot Manhattan headquarters recently obtained a WELL Certified Silver rating, which the company announced was important for the health and well-being of its employees. Indeed, WELL Certification continues to be the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces, and communities seeking to implement, validate, and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness.
What’s the big idea?
The seven concepts of the WELL Building Standard include air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. How buildings can be constructed or retrofitted to meet these standards varies from project to project. Think quality air and water, healthy eating and lifestyle, comfortable, well-lit workplaces, and an overall pleasant environment in which to focus, produce, and enjoy.
For example, IREM headquarters in Chicago incorporated office technologies like specially-tuned LED ceiling ambient lighting, ergonomically crafted work areas, CO2 detection sensors in a demand-controlled air delivery system, and knowledge-based environmental cues that encourage occupants to consume whole, natural foods and cuisines.
How can your building get WELL?
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) outlines the WELL process in a series of steps including online registration of your project, submission of WELL documentation, and cooperation with a WELL Assessor from an initial onsite assessment to production of the final WELL Report. In non-technical language, it might go like this: register online, work with a WELL agent to navigate the process, and wait for the final report to be issued. The final WELL report determines whether your project needs more work (that is, your building is still sick) or it has achieved your desired certification level. WELL Certification levels are like the Olympics: Awards are issued at the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels. For more info, see the WELL Certification Guidebook, which provides additional details about each step in this certification process.