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The WELL Building Standard is a new, forward-thinking approach to building design that focuses on the health of those who use the building. When organizations use a WELL design, they follow a roadmap that benefits human physical, mental, and social health. WELL Standards can be applied to any space, from a single interior space to an entire commercial or residential development.

What is WELL Certification?

WELL certification is a measurable, quantifiable way to promote human health and elevate well-being in built environments, such as commercial or residential building projects. WELL building certification focuses on ten concepts including Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community, as well as, numerous sustainable design features in order to achieve healthy building standards. The ten concepts of WELL Organizations follow rigorous performance standards in design, operation, and practices. All projects submit documentation that is then evaluated by a third party, the Green Business Certification Incorporation (GBCI).

GBCI also administers the LEED certification program and the LEED professional credentialing program, the most widely used green building certification system. WELL focuses on a building’s impact on an individual’s health and wellness, whereas LEED focuses on a building’s impact on the earth. There are overlapping requirements between LEED certification and WELL certification that can be easily integrated into an organization’s sustainability efforts. However, LEED and WELL are separate rating systems with different goals, building requirements, and organizations that issue each building certification.

WELL is managed and administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). IWBI is a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. IWBI uses a research-based approach to support people-first spaces that benefit everyone.

The Benefits of WELL Building Certification

A WELL Building Certification invests in the health and well-being of every organization’s most important resource; its people. The benefits of a WELL Certified building include:

  • Increasing priority and outcome of the health and well-being of employees.
  • Creating a shared vision for health across an organization’s different departments.
  • Enhancing brand equity.
  • Validating health and well-being commitments from a third party.
  • Creating a baseline for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting and benchmarking.

WELL Ratings and WELL Certification Levels

The WELL rating system focuses on three main areas:

  1. Health-Safety Rating
  2. Performance Rating
  3. Equity Rating

WELL Ratings are focused on ten concepts, including:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nourishment
  4. Light
  5. Movement
  6. Thermal Comfort
  7. Sound
  8. Materials
  9. Mind
  10. Community

WELL-certified projects are designed with these concepts in mind and have specific requirements, features, and strategies they must meet in order to demonstrate that they meet compliance.

WELL Certification Levels

There are 4 Levels of WELL Certification that can be awarded:

  • WELL Bronze Certification: requires 40 points and no minimum points per concept
  • WELL Silver Certification: requires 50 points and a minimum of 1 point per concept
  • WELL Gold Certification: requires 60 points and a minimum of 2 points per concept
  • WELL Platinum Certification: requires 80 points and a minimum of 3 points per concept

Projects must submit documentation for certification, which is rigorously evaluated and tested by a third-party organization. Projects earn points toward their certification goals with every optimization feature they incorporate. There are 108 total WELL optimization features that have been tested and researched so far.

WELL Building Standards

WELL Building Standards focus on various practical applications under the ten concepts. Having someone familiar with the requirements and who understands how to achieve certification is vital to obtaining a WELL Building Certification.

Below is a broad list that will give you an idea of the scope of WELL Building Standards’ safe, eco-friendly, and sustainable construction practices:

  • Sustainable design in energy efficiency choices, environmental impact, and sustainable building materials
  • Smart building technologies, such as building automation, innovative HVAC systems, lighting design, ventilation systems, and water management
  • High building standards that prioritize environmental protection, resource conservation, sustainable insulation, water management, and long-term building resilience
  • Water conservation and drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Ongoing building maintenance and programs, such as Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), wellness programs, resource management, accessibility, and building performance

WELL Certification Process

WELL-certified environments positively impact human health and well-being through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and the mind. Providing measurable, certified results monitored and certified by a third party. To achieve a WELL Building Certification, organizations first enroll with the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), which will provide access to a secure, cloud-based project management tool and support team.

An overview of the WELL Building Certification Process is listed below:

  1. International WELL Building Institute Enrollment
  2. Make a plan
  3. Document and track the organization’s progress, which a third party then evaluates
  4. Receive on-site verification and validation
  5. Obtain WELL Building Certification

This process is rigorous and challenging. Organizations must be honest, timely, and dedicated to receiving WELL certification for buildings. Each concept has specific requirements, and a third party evaluates your progress. An on-site testing agent must complete a performance verification at the end of each project.

WELL Accredited Professionals (WELL AP)

Using a WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) like Think Architecture ensures that your project has a sustainable, healthy impact on people and the future. From interior design to land planning and residential to commercial development, Think Architecture knows what it takes to put the well-being of people and the environment first in designing and building the future. Contact Think Architecture to learn more.

WELL Certification FAQ

What is the difference between LEED and WELL certification and building standards?

Though both certifications have overlapping requirements, such as healthy, sustainable construction practices and ongoing building operations, LEED certification focuses on the environmental impact and sustainability of a building. In contrast, WELL certification focuses on the building’s impact on an individual’s health and wellness inside and outside the building. The WELL Building Standard is third-party certified by the Green Business Certification Incorporation (GBCI), which also administers the LEED certification program and the LEED professional credentialing program.

What are the ten concepts of the WELL building standard?

WELL certification for buildings focuses on ten concepts and 108 features. These concepts offer a roadmap for projects. They are Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, and Community. The features focus on the design, culture, operational policies, and maintenance protocols that, when implemented, can better help a building serve its customers, employees, and visitors physically, mentally, and socially. Each feature contains one or more parts that include specific requirements, standards, or thresholds.

What does the WELL Building Standard stand for?

The WELL Building Standard, also known as WELL, is a verified and measurable roadmap to create and certify spaces that advance human health and well-being. It is backed by scientific and medical research that shows our environment’s impact on our mental, physical, and social health. It focuses on creating health-first factors to positively change the buildings we spend our life in by rigorous performance standards for design, operation, and practices. WELL is managed and administered by the International WELL Building Institute, or IWBI, a public benefit corporation leading the global movement to transform our buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive.

How many points do you need for WELL building certification?

Projects need at least 40 points to achieve WELL Bronze Certification; no minimum points per concept are required. Projects can gain up to 80 points for each concept to achieve higher certifications. Points are awarded as a means to create a data-driven approach to health and safety efforts. Projects are required to follow a specific subset of features or strategies based on the 10 WELL concepts (above), submit documentation, and receive an evaluation from a third party.

What are the WELL building standards for residential buildings?

The WELL building standards for residential buildings follow the same roadmap as other projects. Using the ten concepts as a guideline, you choose features that positively impact your residential buildings.

Why is the WELL certification process important?

WELL certification signals to your employees, customers, and others that you put people first. WELL certification prioritizes human well-being and health above other factors, which is a positive, long-term investment for your organization and the world.