The first version of The WELL Building Standard, WELLv1, was launched as a pilot version of the standard in 2014 by the International Well Building Institute (IWBI), as the first performance-based health and wellness rating system for buildings, interior spaces, and core & shell space types. It was created with the belief that people’s health and wellness should be at the center of design.
The first version of WELL adopted a prescriptive approach to certification and was based on 8 years of industry and medical research done by Delos. In WELLv1 all Preconditions, certain required features of the design and building performance, had to be met in order to achieve WELL Silver certification, making the minimum compliance for WELL Silver tough to achieve.
The newest version of WELL has evolved. WELLv2 reflects IWBI’s response to working with the industry to grow and evolve the building standard. There are several structural and process changes that have come about, resulting in a more flexible rating system that applies to many building and space types while maintaining the rigor of a performance-based standard which is pushing our industry to incorporate best practices for the human experience in buildings. The biggest changes between WELLv1 and WELLv2 include:
- A reduced set of Preconditions. The new structure features a reduced set of Preconditions with a point structure that mimics the LEED certification process: 50-59 points for Silver, 60-79 points for Gold, and 80+ for Platinum. Core & Shell project types feature a Certified level for meeting all preconditions and 40-49 points. This allows for more flexibility in the Building Standard to align with the project team and ownership goals.
- A customized scorecard option. Additional flexibility for different applications is built in with a customized scorecard option. The total number of points available is around 190 points. A project team can select a scorecard most applicable to their project type and occupancy that offers the same subset of Preconditions and project team selected Features, from which a certification level can be achieved. This allows a singular scorecard to apply to many project types that were previously struggling to meet an appropriate score for certification.
- Third-party Performance Testing Organizations. The process for certification has also been streamlined by allowing direct contracting with Performance Testing Organizations (and direct coordination for any necessary re-testing). GBCI or any third party Performance Testing Organizations (like Healthy Buildings) can be contacted for pricing and selected based on availability, scheduling, and client relationships. The (soon-to-be) updated website will feature customer reviews and feedback on the Performance Testing Organizations to ensure good quality certification experiences. A high rating will be required to maintain status as an authorized or approved Performance Testing Organization.
- Other updates and benefits include:
- Increased clarity and simplification for ongoing testing features to identify best management practices for maintaining good Indoor Environmental Quality after certification.
- Cost reductions for the certification process. With more options for performance testing organizations, market forces will drive the future costs of performance testing and mature with the Building Standard’s evolution.
Whether pursuing WELL certification or interested in the topic, we encourage building owners and managers to consider adopting strategies fostering increased building performance in the areas of air quality, water quality and availability, lighting quality and character and acoustic quality. Certification options can include WELLv2 for a performance-based approach, or Fitwel for a more prescriptive approach. Both options support the evolution of adopting health and wellbeing best practices for the spaces within which we work, live, and play.
Healthy Buildings is fully committed to offering WELL Consulting services and WELL Performance Verification as an extension of our focus on enhancing the built environment for environmental and human health benefits. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the WELL Building Standard or any related services at firstname.lastname@example.org.