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How WELL Building Standard Improves Health and Wellness in Buildings

Feb 27, 2023 | 0 comments

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Feb 27, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

The WELL Building Standard

The WELL is the world’s first Building Standard architectural benchmark which has its focus solely on consideration of both human health as well as wellness in the aim of improving sustainability (Buydens, 2016). As human beings we spend a significant amount of our time indoors, an estimated ninety per cent, therefore the environment built is deemed to present a great impact upon our productivity, happiness as well as health. According to Buydens (2016), the WELL Building Standards thus makes an introduction to a strategic model which aimed towards improving human-centered construction and design. The WELL Standards brings forth a system that is performance-based for the certification of features of a built environment which impacts health as well as well-being (Buydens, 2016). The WELL codifies its best practices, showing the great possibilities that exist in the integration of human sustainability in regards to architectural design through the creation of buildings and even spaces which enable you to be healthier.

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An organization, Delos Living LLC, which is American-based, declares that its key mission and objective is ‘to build a better world’ (In Bishop, 2017). Thus suggesting that the organization focuses on transforming the indoors environment through by placing of health and wellness as the platform and key centre of both construction and design decisions this is through consulting, researchreal estate development as well as through offering substantially innovative solutions to be implemented into the built environment. In Bishop (2017) points out that, the Delos Living LLC consists of an advisory board which included Former US Congressman, Dick Gephardt, as well as the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and even Leonardo Di Caprio.

Delos as the well known WELL Building Standard founder, which presented the first building standard world wise was solely focused on the priority of human wellness and health (Keeler & Burke, 2016). Delos thus advocated for marrying the best-leveled practices in both design and construction which was evidence-based in scientific as well as medical research; therefore harnessing and embracing the built environment as the drive to efficiently support human wellbeing and health.

The WELL standard has been based on an entire seven years of thorough research collaborating with doctors, scientists, as well as architects who substantially explored the connections and links that may exists between the construction and designs of buildings where individuals could spend their time, as well as the impacts of health and wellbeing these buildings’ construction and designs presented to their occupants (Wood Et.al, 2011).

Moreover, the WELL Building Standard is further defined as an in-depth evidence-based system utilized for measurements, certifications as well as monitoring the wholesome performance of the set building features which that affect both health and well-being. The WELL Standard spaces are set to be certified after the achievement of seven conceptual performance requirements which are relevant in regards to the residence health within the built environment. The WELL integrates seven conceptual categories these are water, air, light, nourishment, comfort, fitness, and mind. WELL standards have all the seven categories on the foundational basis of medical research which regarded the environmental effects on human health.

A substantial increase in the rate of economic development has led to a significant ascend in the rate of both environmental and human impact globally. Moreover, the total number of deaths which are attributed to the existing poor quality in the air has risen drastically in the large Cities. In addition, the number of cases of type II diabetes particularly in adults has also been rising; this rise has been substantially attributed to both a sedentary lifestyle and health. Therefore, it is a common belief that buildings have been developed to effectively deliver a substantially healthy environment for individuals.

The WELL Certified buildings and spaces enhance the creation of a built environment which highly enhances the improvement of fitness, nutrition, and mood as well as sleep patterns. The WELL can be utilized for various types of building such as V1- Commercial as well as Institutional buildings. Furthermore, the WELL standards are utilized for pilot programmes considered for building in a particular scope such as education retail, multi-family residential, healthcare retail as well as community public assembly facilities.

The WELL Standards does utilize an integration of seven concepts; however, these concepts consist of a wide range of feature that adds up to about 102 features. For the WELL Standard, each and every feature is then further divided into various parts, parts that are then designed and in-depth tailored into a particular building type. WELL entails of features classified into two groups as per their type; these are pre-conditions and optimizations. The pre-conditions refer to the core basis of the entire WELL Building Standard. A vital mention is that in order to be awarded and to achieve any certification it is compulsory that all the identified pre-conditions that are applicable must be met. Secondly, the optimizations are the features that enable the creation of a substantially flexible pathway objected towards achieving Gold and even Platinum level of certification. The optimization features may include strategies, optional technologies, designs, as well as protocols. All in all the pre-conditions are compulsorily achieved all reliant on the building type and design; whereas adapting a certain number of optimizations enables the building to achieve a minimum certification which is the Silver level.

The WELL certification ensures a substantially healthier environment brings forth a direct effect on the buildings’ occupants overall wellbeing. According to recent research with an adaptation of the WELL Standards productivity levels increase, the concentration level substantially improves and the rate of absenteeism reduces greatly. Despite these positive outcomes being difficult to establish measurement, achieving clear benefits from WELL Certification stands as a demonstrable badge that can appropriately differentiate by bringing a clear comparison from one workspace and building to another. Thus attracting staff to the employer as well as substantially makes an improvement in staff retention.

The WELL certification vital core is based on relatively simple measurement and requirements such providing the space with UV treatment to the cooling coils, protection of the ventilation ductwork against the dust-ingress, ban smoking within the space together with the space adjacent to particular building, utilization of entrance lobbies as well as revolving doors in the building’s main entrances, installment of the MERV 13 filter into all the air intake systems, provision of signage with aim of encouraging the utilization of the internal stair use, consideration of the water filters for future location; and lastly provision of the low VOC finishes as well as materials. However, the IWBI fee has been linked to buildings floor area therefore formal accreditation is potentially expensive. The other alternative to adapt is the integration of WELL requirements which are relevant to the basis of the building design. Thus, this will enhance the ability of the tenants and occupants to efficiently achieve the set WELL standards in order to gain fit-out if necessary. Thus, individuals who enjoy the benefits of WELL standards eventually do pay to achieve the certification.

LEED versus WELL Standards

Only in the recent decade, the Green building has become a hot topic all over the world. This may have more likely than not emerged due to the growing concerns that have risen around the construction’s role in regards to global warming (Espejo, 2013). According to Kubba (2010), the topic has also emerged as a consequential response to the fears arising around the efforts taken towards protection of individuals from the heavy pollution levels outdoors. Therefore, embracing the green building has been adapting and is driving a path into the Chinese Government, more particularly in the recent five-year plan; as well as into both the provincial as well as national standards (Singh, 2009). The green building is embraced through the adaptation of the current and highly popular certification standards, namely LEED and WELL.

According to Kubba (2016), LEED is an abbreviation that comes from the phrase ‘Leadership in Energy and Environment Design’. It is the most popular building rating that is regarded as traditional among the other standardized ratings that are certified. LEED is formed by the USGBC which is the United States Building Council to assess the impact that environment has on a building (Singh, 2009). Besides the traditional ratings, there are four other categories namely: Certified, Platinum, Silver as well as gold, in addition to the ratings every building are awarded points in line with the categories and the parameters used include sustainable sites, the efficiency of water, the usage of energy as well as the quality of the internal environment or in other words the indoor.

The most recent version of LEED is referred to as LEED v4, which is an upgraded version that is performance-based and its flexibility is more in comparison to the previous version. Keeler and Burke (2016) stated that LEED v4 has resulted into a more measurable outcome in the course of the life cycle of the building and it has put more emphasis on the health of the human together with the environment in comparison to the previous certification processes.

The certification of LEED puts more emphasis on the physical building together with its services contrary to other certification whose emphasis was more on the health of the individual occupying the building to (Kubba, 2016). Under the LEED certification, the award of points is for simple things like, the measures taken for the saving of energy, recycling of waste, exploiting the available local resources rather than importing and lastly, the usage of material that has low-emission.

The standards of the WELL building are a sequence of certifications that widely evaluate the contribution of the environment in which the building is built in, to the well being of the occupants (Chudley & Greeno, 2013). Its ratings are similar to LEED as they are rated, GOLD, Platinum as well as silver. According to International Code Council (2002), the standard measures the correlation between the building as well as the people and it includes the quality of the water in the building, the air circulation, the qualities of the sound as well as the amount of natural light in the building. In addition to this, it also looks into the policies on how the occupants use and interact with the provided space in a broader perspective this include things like exercise as well as space for resting (Khazaii & SpringerLink, 2014).

After being launched in 2013, WELL became the first standard of the building that put emphasis on the health of humans together with the happiness and this was made possible through a well diverse and wide partnership between the leading scientist, the architects, the doctors as well as the leaders who had wellness of humans at heart.

WELL is very different from LEED in the sense that rather than laying down the solutions, it gives way for the certification applicant to explore whatever solutions or technology that they like and the focus is on the attainment of the final results (Wood et.al, 2011). The audit of the done after the building is occupied and it’s done by the third party who must use the standards that are health-based as well as rigorous. Based on this, it can confidently be stated that LEED emphasizes on the environmental effect of the building on the outside while WELL, on the other hand, focuses on the people.

WELL, building standard has proven to be of great influence as it was proven to play a bigger role in enhancing the employee’s productivity. This is based on the study conducted by Harvard students who recorded an increase in the productivity by an equivalent of $6500 a year when the employees in the construction company work in an environment that is well ventilated (Tobias & Vavaroutsos, 2012). To the owner of the building this is an advantage, to the greater extend WELL building standard also reduces the medical cost, as most preventable cases would be avoided due the favorable work condition that puts the health of the humans as a priority hence it also contribute greatly in reducing chronic illness (Wood et.al, 2011).

The job satisfaction rate of WELL is also high, as many employees will be committed to work knowing their health is a priority to the company as compared to LEED where the employee satisfaction rate is lower

In conclusion, it’s important to note that the main difference between LEED and WELL is that LEED generally is all about the efficiency in regards to energy, building material as well as the environment, while WELL is more of the sustainability of the human. The certification of WELL Building appears to be an extension of LEED in the sense that while the basic concern of LEED is in line with the responsible sourcing materials as well as enhancing the building practice that is sustainable, WELL fundamental concern is about the effect that the building has on environment as well as the occupant physiological and psychological welfare.

WELL Projects

Hong Kong has been home to the first WELL certification building named Citi tower which is located as one bay east. The same building also achieved LEED platinum certification and the RESET Certification which was the first one to be issued in Hong Kong. Citi tower building has been categorized as the largest WELL approved project for the existing as well as the new Interiors, the building has thirty-eight different units of the business and it as well homes over three thousand staff that were previously left in five different buildings and now they have been converted into the multistory headquarters. Hong Kong’s commitment and dedication to offering a factual wellness environment for its workers as well as the space for aspiration for its occupants this is according to WELL chairman who acts in the capacity of the CEO Mr. Fedrizzi. Fedrizzi highlighted the fact that Citi tower will show the world how WELL certification is achievable and it is the best approach that generally offers a healthier and well builds environment (Bishop, 2017).

The program of Citi works which was implemented by Citi proved a platform for creating the workspaces that are functional and at the same time put emphasis on flexibility, combined with technology and putting into consideration the future generation while integrating its needs to the building. According to Ching and Shapiro, I. M. (2014), WELL goes hand in hand with the principles listed in the Citi works program and it goes further and provides metrics as well as the guidelines for applying the practices of wellness in the workplace.

Approaching the WELL Certification Process in the project 

Before the process began the project team made an investigative study to assess the type of the needs that their design needed to address. The project team evaluated the composition of the units meant for business and assessed the operational technological and spatial needs of the project (Wood et.al, 2011). The studies also looked into the strategic goals of the Hong Kong as a city and the outcome illustrated the fact that flexible workspaces with a work settings that is more varied, with good configuration that provides the diverse feel with the inclusion of a wireless internet network which is more reliable and AV infrastructure, as well as not forgetting the spacious meeting rooms and finally elevated expression of the Citi brand become top priorities for the Citi brand (Chudley & Greeno, 2013).

According to Wood et.al (2011), on the implementation of the findings while at the same time chasing the WELL certification, the team in charge of the project put emphasis on the integration of various types of spaces in the entire Citi tower. Bishop (2017) stated that the floors in the Citi towers have got different designation which portrays the different environments, providing the space that satisfies the demand of the vast variety of work that the employees at Citi towers need to do in the space.

The lobby space has an extension of a meet and greets floor which acts as a meeting space between the staff and the visitors. This floor also acts as a representation of the Citi brand as it has the colors and the symbols that portray the brand to both the staff and the visitors (Wood et.al, 2011).

The building has also a community floor which is just a flexible space created with the intention of bringing staff together. The floor has several amenities including common areas which are café-inspired, private spaces meant for the type of work which requires more attention, food and beverage facilities as well as enough spaces for conducting recruitment and job training. By having the design which is flexible, the community floor offers a means where town hall meeting or rather large gatherings can be accommodated (Espejo, 2013).

The tower has also a gym, which is intended to encourage employees to lead a lifestyle which is more healthy and active and one which has a balance between work and life. According to Espejo (2013), the materials in the gym are made of healthy products and it’s placed strategically for ease of access for the employees at their own convenient time.

The remaining floors in the Citi tower are designed to be work floors. The floor brings out the ambience of a meet and greets as well a community floor like for instance work cafes, the workspaces that are collaborative, the quiet rooms as well as the huge wide workstation that are always open-plan. The integration of the workplaces with one another offers a conducive platform where a huge amount of task can be comfortably be done in various ways and styles after which employees are able to find space that satisfies their demands and needs at any given time (Keeler & Burke, 2016).

The areas designated as the breakout areas are on the entire floor and they have storage and lounge integrated into them which offers a relaxing and comfortable environment for co-working. The breakout areas have spread across the entire floors and they break the work areas and make it be like a neighborhood-like environment and it offers a perfect way for employees to divide themselves into a smaller group instead of being overly excited by the wide open space throughout the building. Each floor has nine flexible different work set up on every floor this simply means that throughout the day the employees are given freedom to work at a place they feel suits their working environment the best (Wood et.al, 2011).

These different types of spaces are the backbone of the project team’s application of the WELL and Citi works in Citi tower building. By putting highlights on the spaces intended to fill the identified gaps that were in the previous early studies, the design puts the occupant in a better position that would ensure they enjoy the office and at the same time remain healthy (Bishop, 2017).


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