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Can Your Building Make You Healthier?

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

With 90 percent of our lives spent indoors, it’s important that our buildings not only keep us safe but work to enhance our overall happiness and well-being. The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is doing just that by transforming the ways in which we view and assess building design. The IWBI created the WELL Building Standard in October of 2014 after years of scientific and medical research linked health risks to our current building design and construction practices. This building standard focuses on a holistic view of health to encourage spaces that prevent sickness, promote wellness, and facilitate opportunities to connect with others. Each WELL project is assessed on the concepts of air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community in a way that helps humans thrive.

As the WELL Building Standard continues to expand, the IWBI launched their WELL v2 pilot program which will be open for public comments later this year. The WELL v2 program expands the WELL core initiatives and is founded on the principles of being equitable, global, evidence-based, technically robust, customer focused, and resilient. The new program hopes to cater to a diverse set of projects by launching on a unified standard. Other new points include an evolving performance verification measure, a dynamic scorecard, and three new concepts – sound, materials, and community.

Along with the 10 core concepts, the WELL v2 standard is comprised of 23 preconditions and 94 optimization options. Preconditions are mandatory measures for certification while optimizations are optional additions that can grant your project more points and a higher certification. Each project can gain up to 110 points but must earn a minimum of two points per concept with no more than 12 points per concept. The certification tiers include bronze (40 points), silver (50 points), gold (60 points), and platinum (80 points). Each certified WELL project is reviewed by the third-party Green Business Certification Incorporation (GBCI), which also administers LEED certifications.

To give you an example, the preconditions required for the air concept include meeting the fundamental air quality as determined by public health authorities, maintaining a smoke-free environment, proving ventilation effectiveness, and managing construction pollution. One optimization possibility for this concept is going above the fundamental air quality requirement to prove enhanced air quality in your building. Through a performance test, your building will need to meet the enhanced thresholds for particulate matter, organic gases, and inorganic gases to gain the points for this optimization.

To begin a WELL building project, the IWBI outlines four main phases. Phase one is assessing your goals using the WELL scorecard to evaluate your building’s potential. At this point, you can register your project online to receive access to additional support from the IWBI team. Phase two is the implementation of the project you outlined in phase one. Using the project tools and technical resources provided by the IWBI, you can upload project documents to receive assistance along the way. Phase three is completing the review process by undergoing a set of performance verification tests. This will ensure that you meet the thresholds required for certification. The final phase after certification is to continually monitor and assess your building’s performance by revisiting your goals in promoting human wellness.

Whether you need help upgrading the lights in your building or increasing the effectiveness of your building ventilation, 360 Energy Group can help. The first step to making your building a healthier and more vibrant indoor environment is with energy efficiency. Contact us as 312-265-3975 or to get started.


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