After nearly two decades of influencing the impact of construction methods on the environment with LEED, the green building industry is broadening its focus to include the health of a building’s occupants with the WELL Building Standard. The third-party certification—administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) in collaboration with the Green Building Certification Institute—focuses on seven concepts that promote a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle: air, mind, water, nourishment, light, fitness, and comfort.
Joining best practices in design and construction with medical and scientific research, the first version launched in 2014 as the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and well-being of people inside buildings. It originally was designed to be applicable to commercial office settings to promote worker health, performance, and motivation. The IWBI has since launched pilot programs, including one for residential multifamily projects, to test, refine, and integrate the lessons learned into future residential versions of the standard.
WELL’s seven codes include requirements such as water and air filtration systems that limit exposure to pathogens and allergens, and kitchen sinks must have two or more basins and a swiveling faucet to lower the risk of food contamination. Also, any WELL-certified establishment is recommended to be located within half a mile from—or provide free transportation to—a grocery store or farmers market where fresh produce is sold. A healthy sleep-wake cycle is encouraged through a circadian lighting system that requires blackout shades and dawn simulation to establish a “bed time” and “wake time”, and placing decibel limits on interior and exterior noise reverberation.
“We have been thrilled to see rapidly growing interest in these pilot programs, specifically in the multifamily residential program, with 54 projects registered to pursue WELL,” says Rick Fedrizzi, IWBI chairman and CEO.