A Look at the WELL Building Standard

July 1, 2015

The WELL building standard, which was developed through consultation with medical experts and building industry professionals, sets building performance requirements and is grounded in years of medical research that connects the impact of the environment where  90 per cent of our time is spent to our health and well-being.  It focuses on the quality of the air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind, of commercial, residential multi-family, and institutional market segments.  The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), created by Delos, a wellness Real Estate company, administers it.


The recently developed building standard, takes the effort made by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) one step further by setting a protocol that focuses on human wellness within the built environment.  Its focus is on what’s best for the people in the building not just the planet, marrying industry best practices with current research on health and well-being.


The certification levels for WELL are Silver, Gold, and Platinum.  Features can be either performance-based standards or descriptive standards. Globally more than 8 million square feet of space is registered or certified for the WELL standard.  Working in alignment with the LEED Green Building Rating System, WELL allows industry practitioners to integrate its standard with sustainability, allowing for the creation of structures that optimize both occupant and environmental impact.


The certification process requires that buildings seeking the certification have a passing score in each of the seven categories of the WELL standard.  Applicants must submit documentation and submit to an on-site audit administered by IWBI.  In order to be certified, all Preconditions across all seven categories must be met. The level awarded, silver, gold, or platinum, is determined by compliance in each of three areas…Precondition, Treatment, and Optimization. 


The first commercial building to be granted certification is CBRE’s Global Corporate Headquarters, located in Los Angeles.  Certified under the pilot program in 2013, it is both LEED Gold, and IWBI Pilot Certified.  The CBRE Corporate Headquarters was the recipient of the Prestigious Global Innovator’s Award from CoreNet Global.  In their pilot program, CBRE reported that 83% reported being more productive, 92% reported the environment had a positive impact on their health and well-being, 93% indicated that they were better able to collaborate with others, and 94% said that it has had a positive impact on their business performance.


The goal of WELL is to not only add value by embracing tenants that put people’s health and wellness at the center of design, but to also generate increased savings and productivity, in addition to a substantial return on investment to tenants and building owners.




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