Having studied building environmental engineering at university, I’ve always been an advocate for excellent quality internal and external environments. If our assets are out people, why hinder their performance? Over the years, trends come and go, the environment is always the heart of good building design and operation, despite it now being badged under ‘well-being’, which cleverly links directly to our industry’s latest environmental assessment standard, WELL Building Standard.

This standard if different to your BREEAMs, Ska and LEEDs. This standard has defined a new path for delivering ‘well-being’ in buildings by enhancing and adapting usual assessment methods through science based research to produce a specific focus around us, the end user. Enhance and expand your current ‘well-being’ 16%-18% score with subjects covering: Air; Water; Nourishment; Light; Fitness; Comfort and Mind to provide 100% of your assessment criteria.

Like other assessment methods, WELL has mandatory or prerequisite credits or points. They are in the form of ‘Preconditioning Requirements’ which results in the entry level ‘Silver’ certification, which in the current schemes means anything under a ‘Silver’ get nothing.

If you want your people to maximise their capability in line with today’s latest research and thinking, then managing the delivery and continual in-use requirements of this process with be critical, especially if you’ve set your heart on certification. WELL can be applied to a diverse range of projects including new construction, major refurbishments and fit-outs, although certain building types are still in trial mode.

We’ve been putting WELL through its paces as an additional assessment on top of the usual suspects such as BREEAM or LEED. It will be interesting to see how Developer led schemes evolve around WELL in relation to Tenant/Market expectations as it’s a newcomer to the assessment arena and there may be a feeling of apprehension in achieving formal certification.

WELL is closely aligned with LEED as is follows a similar Quality Assurance process as well as relying on the professional team to sign-off evidence ahead of the WELL review and certification process. Even though WELL is close to LEED which is a US based assessment method, the founders of WELL have been in discussion with those of BREEAM and agreed in forging an alignment in relation to standards that can be used to demonstrate WELL compliance.

There are many points which require alternative or innovative approaches to meeting compliance which have kept our MEP colleagues busy. For example, meeting the water and air purity requirements of WELL can be challenging if the development is in an area with poor air and water quality. We’ve had great fun interacting with design teams and speaking with clients about WELL. In doing so we’ve created many useful assessment tools as well as rules around approaching the WELL Building Standard which we hope to share with you should this assessment tool and certification scheme be if interest.

My article in the next issue of Critical Thinking will cover more of the assessment and the implications of standard on building design, and will also include statements from the design teams/clients. An interesting observation we made whilst running through the WELL Building Standard with clients and design teams is the principal ‘yes I want to look at this’ or even more encouraging is the take up of ‘intent’ assessments for selected criteria that clients can relate to.

If the idea of enhanced productivity through well-being and necessary in-use monitoring and reporting appeals to you, then the WELL Building Standard is the standard for you.