WELL: The LEED for employees

January 11, 2017

Shot of a team of colleagues having lunch together in an officehttp://

LEED is focused on encouraging companies to design, construct, operate, and maintain buildings in a way that is healthiest for the environment. However, a new standard has emerged with a focus on designing buildings in a way that is healthiest for humans.

Introducing the WELL Building Standard.

WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and aims to improve the physical/mental health and productivity of employees by encouraging healthy lifestyles and reducing occupant exposure to harmful pollutants.

According to the IWBI, there are seven factors, or concepts to the WELL Building Standard:

  • Air: Optimize and achieve indoor air quality through the removal of airborne contaminants, prevention and purification. Studies show a well-ventilated office can double cognitive ability.
  • Water: Optimize water quality by removing contaminants through filtration and treatment, while also promoting accessibility.
  • Nourishment: Encourage healthy eating habits by providing occupants with healthier food choices, behavioral cues, and knowledge about nutrient quality.
  • Light: Optimize window performance and design, light output and lighting controls, and task-appropriate illumination levels to improve energy, mood and productivity. A study found workers in offices with windows got 46 minutes more sleep a night than workers without them.
  • Fitness: Utilize building design technologies and knowledge-based strategies to encourage physical activity. Requirements are designed to provide numerous opportunities for activity and exertion, enabling occupants to accommodate fitness regimens within their daily schedule.
  • Comfort: Create an indoor environment that is distraction-free, productive, and soothing. Solutions include design standards and covering acoustic and thermal parameters that are known sources of discomfort. Staff performance can fall 6% if offices are too hot and 4% if they too cold, and noise distractions led to 66% drop in performance and concentration
  • Mind: Support mental and emotional health, providing the occupant with regular feedback and knowledge about their environment through design elements, relaxation spaces, and state-of-the-art technology.

Though the program is new, the results are impressive. One company in Northern England, Skanska, rebuilt its new hub according to WELL principles and saw 3.5 times fewer building-related sick days than other UK offices, saving the company £28,000 in staff costs in 2015 and staff satisfaction jumped from 58% to 78%.

Call center staff at Saint-Gobain’s new North American headquarters had a 97% increase in sales-generated leads and 101% increase in leads per call. Their facility has a fitness center, 1.3 miles of walking trails for its 800 staff, more than 100 collaborative workspaces, and 92% of offices have outdoor views.

Thirty percent of Canadian building owners who were surveyed said investment in healthier buildings had a positive impact on the building’s value, 46% said they these buildings were easier to lease; and 28% said they commanded premium rents.

The WELL Building Standard is third-party certified by the Green Business Certification Incorporation, which administers the LEED certification program and professional credentialing program. Visit their website for more information on WELL and to download the latest version of the WELL standard.

For help in making your facility a greener and healthier environment, contact Vanguard Resources.