WELL certification system: WELL Building Standard™
WELL v2™ pilot
The next version of the WELL Building Standard™
As humans, we have always been dependent on our environments to nurture and sustain us. We rise with the sun, we eat off the land, we make shelter of stones and trees. We need water, air and light to survive. We need good water, good air and good light to thrive.
We build structures to protect ourselves – from nature and other forces. And we spend increasing amounts of time in these structures, living more than 90% of our lives indoors. Our buildings are designed to keep us safe, to protect us from the elements. But many of the places where we spend our time also get in the way of our health, putting one degree of separation between us and that which has always kept us alive.
Nature has long been our caretaker. With intentional design, our buildings can be too.
Thanks to an evolving and growing evidence base, we understand more about the relationship between our environments and our health than ever before. We know how to create spaces that enhance, rather than hinder our health and well-being. We can measure- and then improve – the quality of our air, water and light. We know how to design environments that fuel our bodies, keep us moving, inspire our best work and facilitate a good night’s sleep.
Through the vehicle of WELL, IWBI helps to translate what we know into what we practice.
WELL is premised on a holistic view of health: human health as not only a state of being free of disease – which is indeed a fundamental component of health – but also of the enjoyment of productive lives from which we derive happiness and satisfaction. Healthy spaces protect us from that which can make us sick, promote practices that can keep us well, and facilitate opportunities for us to connect with one another and live our lives to the fullest.
We aspire to advance healthy buildings for all. This has been our mission since we launched WELL in 2014, but today we know a lot more about how to achieve it. We’ve learned alongside our customers, early adopters of the healthy buildings movement and brave pioneers on the frontier of human-centered design. To create this new version of WELL, we did a lot of research and a lot of listening. We tried to channel all that we learned and all that we heard into a product that is more accessible, more adaptable and more equitable, while still anchored by the latest scientific and medical knowledge.
WELL v2: Equitable, Local, Dynamic
WELL v2 builds upon the pioneering foundation of WELL v1, drawing from the community of users and practitioners, and from health and building researchers and experts around the world.
One of our main goals in developing WELL v2 was to drive equity into the very architecture of the standard. We wanted to reduce barriers to entry, while maintaining WELL as a mark of true leadership. We wanted to offer more choice while retaining rigor. We wanted to create a single version of WELL that could evolve to meet the needs of any type of building in any part of the world. We have done this by re-affirming and building upon the scientific evidence base for effective health intervention through built spaces and organizational practices, homing in on the essential elements of what a healthy building must be and introducing new options for what a healthy building could be. All the while, we asked ourselves: could a well-intentioned project achieve this intent? Could an existing building meet our requirements without major capital expenditure? How might a WELL space create equal opportunities for all? How do we ensure that those on the outside benefit as much as those on the inside?
WELL is already a global tool being utilized in more than 50 countries. In order to make WELL v2 a better fit for people and spaces around the world, we approached the goal of globalization through a strategy of localization; taking into consideration regional health concerns, cultural norms and market realities. This new version of WELL will be regularly and proactively adapted to varying contexts and constructs, making it even more relevant and readily applicable to spaces and places across the globe.
What makes all of this possible is that WELL v2 is dynamic. We built a system that can continuously learn, evolve and improve. Moving away from a fixed scorecard gives you the opportunity to focus on the outcomes that matter most for your project and your community, and it gives us the opportunity to regularly introduce new pathways and parts to make WELL a better and better fit for all buildings everywhere.
Powerful Opportunities for Health Promotion
As designers, engineers, builders, operators and owners of buildings, we too are caretakers.
We have an obligation to create spaces that move us—all of us—in the direction of health.
Together, we can create spaces that inspire; spaces that are inclusive; spaces that allow us to flourish; spaces that help us become happier and healthier people. With every WELL project comes a powerful opportunity to catalyze our built spaces as mechanisms to deliver health and wellness benefits to all people within them.
Principles of WELL v2
The development of WELL v2 is founded on the following principles:
Equitable: Provides the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people, inclusive of all demographic and economic groups and with special consideration of groups of the least advantage or vulnerable populations.
Global: Proposes interventions that are feasible, achievable and relevant across many applications throughout the world.
Evidence-based: Undergirded by strong, validated research yielding conclusions that can reasonably be expected to receive acceptance by the scientific community.
Technically robust: Draws upon industry best practices and proven strategies, offering consistency in findings across the relevant field or discipline.
Customer-focused: Defines program requirements through a dynamic process, with multiple opportunities for stakeholder engagement, and by tapping the expertise of established leaders in science, medicine, business, design and operations.
Resilient: Responds to advances in scientific knowledge and technology, continuously adapting and integrating new findings in the field.
The Architecture of the Standard
A Unified Standard: One WELL
WELL v2 consolidates previous iterations and pilots into one WELL for all project types. The system is designed to grow in specificity and specialty over time, adapting to accommodate diverse project types and geographies and in response to new evidence and ever-evolving public health imperatives.
Dynamic WELL Scorecard
WELL Online guides project teams through the development of a unique scorecard. The digital platform recommends a selection of features based on project-specific parameters that can be further defined and refined by the project team.
There are ten concepts in WELL v2: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community.
Each concept is comprised of features with distinct health intents. Features are either preconditions or optimizations.
Preconditions define the fundamental components of a WELL space and serve as the foundation of a healthy building. WELL v2 offers a universal set of preconditions for all projects.
All preconditions are mandatory for certification. All parts in preconditions are mandatory.
Optimizations are optional pathways for projects to demonstrate achievement in WELL.
Project teams choose the optimizations they want to pursue. Further, projects may choose which parts to pursue within optimizations up to the point maximum established for the optimization.
WELL v2 operates on a points-based system, with a total of 110 points available to each project. All optimizations have maximum point-values. The point-value of a feature is determined by its potential for impact. This is defined as the extent to which a feature addresses a specific health and wellness concern or opportunity for health promotion, and the potential impact of effective intervention.
All parts in optimizations hold a point-value equal to or less than the optimization maximum. Projects may pursue parts under the optimization to accrue points up to the maximum point-value established for the optimization. If an optimization contains more parts and points than the maximum, these parts are to provide more options, but projects may still not receive credit for more than the maximum point-value established for the optimization.
Note: for some optimizations, achieving points in one part is contingent upon achieving points for another part.
Accommodating All Space Types
All parts of WELL v2 are designated for specific space types. Space types in WELL refer to spaces within a project. These space types do not refer to the project as a whole.
Many parts in WELL are denoted for “all spaces”, which indicates that the part must be applied to all spaces within the project, for all project types. Some features list distinct parts for specific space types; depending on the part, these additional requirements may be required on top of the requirements for all spaces or used in place of the requirements listed for all other spaces.
Scoring and Certification Levels
Projects must achieve all preconditions as well as a certain number of points to earn different levels of certification:
- WELL Silver Certification: 50 points.
- WELL Gold Certification: 60 points.
- WELL Platinum Certification: 80 points.
Projects must earn a minimum of two points per concept (or in the case of the Air and Thermal Comfort concepts, at least four points combined). Projects may pursue no more than 12 points per concept and no more than 100 points total across the ten concepts. Projects can also pursue an additional ten points for Innovation. At the point of submitting for Documentation Review, projects must submit a scorecard that contains a selection of points and features in accordance with these rules.
WELL Core Certification is a distinct pathway of achievement for core and shell buildings seeking to implement fundamental features in the base building for the benefit of tenants/residents. All building types can register for WELL Core provided that at least 75% of the project area is occupied by one or more tenants/residents and/or serves as common space in the building accessible to all tenants/residents. Note that offices affiliated with the project owner but unrelated to the management of the project property may be considered a tenant so long as additional tenants unaffiliated with the project owner occupy at least 60% of the gross floor area.
Residential buildings must meet one of the additional requirements to able to register for WELL Core:
- There is minimal fit-out of the dwelling units, defined as meeting at least two of the following:
- Developer does not install kitchen cabinets.
- Developer does not install stoves/ranges, ovens, or refrigerators.
- Developer does not install showers/baths, toilets, or sinks in the bathroom or kitchen.
- Developer does not install HVAC terminals.
- Project is unable to provide access to dwelling units for performance testing. Projects must submit evidence attesting to why they are unable to test in dwelling units (for instance, dwelling units are already occupied).
Mixed-use buildings where WELL Core is appropriate for at least 60% of the gross floor area may register the entire building for WELL Core. Areas operated/occupied by the project owner are considered “non-leased space” (see Scope and Applicability below). Mixed-use buildings where WELL Core is appropriate for less than 60% of the gross floor area should register one or more portions of the building as individual projects for WELL Certification or WELL Core Certification, as appropriate.
At least 2.5% of the total building floor area must be available for performance testing. The available testing area must include all common areas and spaces directly under the control of the building management team. If common areas and spaces under owner control comprise less than 2.5% of total building floor area, the project must supplement with tenant spaces to reach this threshold. Testing in leased spaces in these cases can take place before or after tenant occupancy.
Some performance-based optimizations explicitly state that they require testing in tenant spaces in order to be awarded. The project is responsible for identifying and communicating to GBCI and the WELL Performance Testing Agent the particular spaces which are available for testing.
WELL Core requires, at minimum, achievement of certain features directed at common areas and spaces under owner control. Some features must be achieved for the entire building in order for the WELL Core project to receive credit. WELL Core projects may earn additional points for achieving those same features for tenants/residents, whether by directly offering benefits to tenants or sizing for tenant capacity. Further guidance on applicability and additional point-earning potential for WELL Core is provided in Appendix Core and Multifamily Residential.
WELL Core projects must achieve all preconditions as well as a certain number of points to earn different levels of certification:
- WELL Core Bronze Certification: 40 points.
- WELL Core Silver Certification: 50 points.
- WELL Core Gold Certification: 60 points.
- WELL Core Platinum Certification: 80 points.
For WELL Core Certification, projects must earn a minimum of one point per concept. Projects may earn no more than 12 points per concept.
International WELL Building Institute pbc