Nowadays, a significant percentage of new construction is being built to meet the standards of LEED certification, which focuses on sustainability. But there’s a new certification gaining traction that complements LEED, called WELL.
WELL is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in the buildings. The WELL Standard takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment addressing behavior, operations and design, and is intended to promote health, happiness and productivity of employees.
Our EMD Serono Sagamore expansion project in Billerica—expected to be complete this July—is not only seeking LEED certification, but is also looking to become the first fully certified WELL building in Massachusetts. While many project are seeking certification, there are currently only 10 fully certified projects in the United States.
WELL certification is administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), launched in 2013. Initial research shows WELL-certified spaces demonstrate improvements in employee satisfaction, reductions in healthcare costs and absenteeism.
The WELL Building Standard has seven concepts related to health in the built environment, including:
- Air: create optimal indoor air quality
- Water: promote safe and clean water through proper filtration and other methods
- Nourishment: require the availability of fresh, wholesome foods, limit unhealthy ingredients and encourage better eating habits
- Light: provide illumination guidelines to minimize disruption to body’s circadian system, enhance productivity and provide appropriate visual acuity
- Fitness: allow for seamless integration of exercise and fitness into everyday life
- Comfort: establish a requirement to create a distraction-free, productive and comfortable indoor work environment
- Mind: require design, technology, and treatment strategies to provide a physical environment that optimizes cognitive and emotional health
Each concept has a number of features: mandatory preconditions and optional optimizations. All preconditions must be met for any project to pursue WELL certification. The Sagamore expansion project will seek WELL Gold certification by meeting all preconditions and 40% of the eligible optimizations.