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A Nutrition Label
Can you envision your facility as a 24-hour carwash for the human body? That’s the way Paul Scialla, a co-founder of Delos, the New York real estate firm
behind the WELL building standard, described his WELL-certified condo project in a
New York Times article.
The WELL standard is administered by the International WELL Building Institute
(IWBI), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and
wellbeing through the built environment. IWBI was launched by Delos in 2013, following
a Clinton Global Initiative commitment by Scialla to develop spaces that enhance occupant
health and quality of life.
The standard “is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and
monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing.”
It is a nutrition label that shows how healthy the ingredients of a building are for its
occupants. It encompasses more than other green certifications – in case you are
wondering what another certification in the green alphabet soup could offer.
Seven concepts – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind – are the
core of the standard. While some features for clean air and water sound familiar and indeed
represent transferable LEED credits, others go into new territory:
■ Refined food ingredient restrictions, a trans-fat ban, fruit and vegetable variety, meal size
requirements, and 1 square foot of gardening area per occupant.
■ Circadian lighting design with melanopic light in work areas.
■ Active design through exterior pedestrian amenities; for the interior, desk height flexibility
■ On-site fitness amenities and incentive plans to participate.
■ Biophilic elements including “nature incorporation” and “nature interaction.”
■ Altruism component with charitable activities and contributions.
■ Furniture suitable for “workplace sleep support,” i.e., naps.
■ Travel policy that gives occupants the choice to avoid red-eye flights or work remotely on
the day of arrival from a red-eye.
The WELL verification matrix and other information are available at the IWBI website
The standard’s active approach goes well beyond the notion that a building will do no
harm. But how far will its acceptance go? The hotel industry has been an early adopter. MGM
has expanded an initial offering of WELL-certified guest rooms at its Las Vegas property,
where the rooms have fetched a 20% premium over standard rooms.
I could be skeptical about how widely the WELL standard will be adopted – until I recall
where green buildings were 20 years or even 10 years ago. When connected to profit and
occupant productivity, the active wellbeing approach gains traction. It also adds value to the
roles of facility and property managers as influencers of profit and productivity.
Chief Content Director