The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the link between the built environment and human health. As we ease out the pandemic, many organizations are looking for ways to protect employees returning to the office.
WELL, a building rating system overseen by the International WELL Building Institute, offers a path to a healthier indoor environment. Backed by decades of research, the system presents strategies to advance human health through design interventions and operational protocols.
This article will provide an overview of WELL and discuss the benefits it offers occupants and business owners. After reading, you’ll better understand the system, helping you determine if it fits your project and goals.
What is WELL?
WELL is a third-party building verification system that focuses on occupant health and wellbeing. It provides a framework for encouraging movement, facilitating social connection, and improving air, water, and light quality.
Like other building standards, WELL uses a point-based certification system. Points are based on ten concepts:
These concepts extend beyond the design and construction of the building to include operational strategies as well. For example, organizations can earn points for Nourishment by providing occupants with healthy food options.
Earning a WELL Certification
After construction is complete, projects undergo a Performance Verification. A certified Testing Agent will spend one to three days on-site to validate the project’s documentation and complete a series of performance checks.
Depending on the number of points earned, projects can receive one of four certifications: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
After earning a certification, building owners should continue monitoring performance data and maintain WELL operational strategies. Health and wellbeing are ongoing commitments, and projects must undergo a Performance Verification each year to maintain certifications.
WELL sets standards for metrics like daylighting.
Benefits of WELL
WELL offers numerous benefits to everyday building occupants. Its thermal, acoustical, and lighting standards create a comfortable and energizing environment, leading to increased productivity. At the same time, its water, nourishment, and movement standards can promote healthier lifestyles.
Along with occupants, WELL benefits building owners. The evidence-based system can provide a return on investment through reduced absenteeism and increased talent attraction rates.
1. It’s Evidence-Based
WELL is a robust, evidence-based system. Developed over ten years, the program pulls insights from a cross-section of researchers, including public health professionals, medical doctors, and building scientists.
WELL’s criteria are not just suggestions from designers. They are scientifically proven strategies to advance human health.
2. It Can Reduce Absenteeism
Absenteeism is a problem for many organizations. On average, employers spend 92% of their annual operating costs on people, and so unexpected sick days can impact an organization’s bottom line.
WELL can help organizations mitigate the risk of unexpected absenteeism. Its strategies reduce building occupants’ exposure to air pollutants and water contaminants, preventing short-term and chronic illnesses. Additionally, WELL’s lighting, sound, and thermal comfort strategies make for an inviting workplace and help regulate occupants’ circadian rhythms.
When combined, these strategies can improve occupants’ physical and mental health, reducing the likelihood of unexpected sick days. In a case study, WELL strategies helped one organization reduce absenteeism by 50%.
3. It Can Improve Talent Attract and Retention
Designing to WELL’s standards sends a powerful message to potential hires. It demonstrates you care about employee wellbeing and want employees to feel comfortable in their working environment.
WELL certification is proof of your organization’s commitment to Employee Experience. In an increasingly competitive hiring market, a healthy workplace can help you retain and grow your team.
While it’s slowly gaining popularity in Iowa, WELL is becoming more common in larger markets. Organizations from startups to Fortune 500 companies are adopting WELL. The system can help you keep up with the competition and position you as a forward-thinking organization.
Learn More About Building Verification Systems
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans, on average, spend 90% of their time indoors. Many spend 40 hours a week in the workplace. These environments ought to positively impact our physical and mental health.
Verification systems like WELL help designers and building owners create environments that better serve occupants. WELL’s ten concepts can help encourage healthy lifestyles, improve productivity, and reduce absenteeism.