What’s this WELL Standard I Keep Hearing About?

We’re pleased to welcome Jennifer Berthelot-Jelovic to WestEdge this Friday, November 4. She’ll be presenting  Introduction to the WELL Building Standard: How It Can Benefit Your Projects and Clients  in the Jenn-Air Master Class Studio. Below Jennifer sheds light on what this WELL Standard is about and what it means for all of us.

By Jennifer Berthelot-Jelovic

We spend 90% of our time indoors and sitting is the new smoking.  Worse yet, physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for mortality.  So what can we do about it?

In October of 2014, after years of development; The WELL Building Standard™, also known as WELL, was released as an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being where we live, work and play.  WELL takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment; addressing behavior, operations, policies, procedures and design.  Much like LEED was created to measure and verify how healthy a building is for the planet; WELL was created to measure and verify how healthy a building is for the people.

“Design for Healthy Behaviors” is ranked #1 as both the most transformative and fastest-moving sub-trend of the Health and Well-Being macro-trend,” reported ASID Industry Outlook, 2015.  Research also shows that most employers are already offering health and wellness programs or initiatives, or plan to start providing them in the near future.

WELL focuses on seven concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind; while using behavior, operations and design to drive the measurement and verification for these concepts.  WELL is like a nutrition label for your building, providing transparency on the quality of our built environment. We don’t want to design buildings that are obsolete before they are finished with construction!

If you are familiar with LEED, WELL is extremely complimentary.  Certifications for both are administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). WELL can be implemented alongside other rating systems such as LEED or Living Building Challenge; however, WELL also stands very solidly on its own as a Standard.  One of the highlights of WELL is that it is performance-based and focuses on meeting the intent, as opposed to being prescriptive and meeting a requirement.  There is much less paper documentation required by WELL, versus other rating systems.  WELL also uses performance verification audits to do on-site testing, visual inspections and spot checks; to ensure projects meet compliance.

Another benefit of WELL is that it does not separate Existing and New projects. There are standards and pilot programs aimed at a variety of situations.  If you want to check these out, please click here //www.wellcertified.com/.

WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI), whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment.  WELL is not about ‘Healthy just for the Wealthy’.  Thus, IWBI was set up as a Public For Benefit Corporation requiring IWBI to donate 51% of their profits to health and wellness housing initiatives in local communities and highly impacted/stressed international communities.  WELL is all about healthier, more productive places for people and is a confluence of Medical Science, Building Science and Business Science. WELL is an evidence based, peer reviewed Standard that is 3rd party administered by IWBI.  And its believers are impressive!  Beginning November 4, 2016, U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) CEO and founding Chairman, Rick Fedrizzi, is joining IWBI as CEO and Chairman of its Board of Directors. Rick brings with him decades of developing and implementing rating systems for the built environment such as LEED, all around the world.

There are a lot of different reasons people consider doing WELL certification. Some companies or multifamily residences are looking to attract the right employees, clients or tenants.  Some companies are looking to retain the people they have who might have a high cost to replace them.  Some companies are looking to do fewer negatives; while some companies are looking to do more positives.  Companies are looking for better ideas, fewer sick days, reduced presenteeism, higher return on investment, employee longevity, increased learning potential and more.  WELL provides a true benefits differentiator for those who achieve certification.

Many Owners, developers and self-insured companies see the return on investment for doing the WELL Standard.  The average company spends 1% of its annual budget on Energy.  Approximately 9% of that annual budget is spent on rent and operations.  That same budget focuses 90% of its allocations to the People.  From salaries, to benefits, to insurance, we spend most of our money on the people.  Where we work, play and live matters! WELL is providing a path to increase our ability to be healthy and productive, regardless of where we spend the majority of our time!

~ Jennifer Berthelot-Jelovic is President & CEO of A Sustainable Production (ASAP); a woman owned, full-service, global sustainability and wellness consulting firm based in Los Angeles, CA //www.sustainpro.org/.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles chapter (www.usgbc-la.org) and is a WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP Homes, and USGBC LEED & WELL Faculty.