WELL Buildings

The WELL Building Standard®, which has been in pilot mode for several years, officially debuts October 20 in New Orleans on the opening end of the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild conference.

Created by Delos, the WELL Building Standard sets performance requirements for all building types (commercial, institutional, residential, core and shell, and tenant improvements) in seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. On-site post-occupancy performance assessments that include air and water testing are required for certification.

Our Group is one of the consultants that has been working with Delos, advising on technical information (air changes, natural ventilation and light quality) and conducting a number of audits for Delos as they piloted the program.

Integral, for example, evaluated such things as light levels and air quality, honing in on exhaust for copy rooms and kitchens in the CBRE building in Los Angles, the first Well Building office to be certified under the pilot.

According to Delos, the WELL standard helped guide the office design towards “improved productivity, sharpened focus, increased creativity, speed and accuracy, and reduction of absenteeism.”

The project focused on indoor air quality, lighting, water quality, visual acuity, physical comfort, acoustics, and psychological impacts within the work environment. To achieve the standard, the design team incorporated features such as air filtration systems, sound damping walls, VOC-free paints, water purification, ergonomic desks and chairs, biophilic plantings, and smart lighting systems.

Dylan Connelly, IG project engineer, who worked on the CBRE Wellness audit, described some of the tools his team used to evaluate the wellness factor in the building. “Delos provided us with a toolkit, a big suitcase, for evaluating wellbeing. In the suitcase there are light meters, including a Japanese light meter that reads wavelengths, air quality sensors, a Formaldehyde reader, water testers, an acoustic meter and more,” he explained.

Energy has often been Integral Group’s primary design focus and in most cases this coincides with better comfort and health. For example natural light, natural ventilation and radiant heating and cooling all result in energy savings and better comfort and happiness for occupants.

“The health, energy, environment nexus is a mutually reinforcing one,” said Integral Managing Principal Eric Soladay.

Soladay recalls one Well Building pilot Integral worked on— Akron Children’s Hospital—where health and healing was the main objective of the space. Fresh air changes are tightly controlled in the children’s bone marrow recovery rooms where any virus is life threatening. “Kids in these rooms are in a lot of pain, “ Soladay explained. “These are already supposed to be healing spaces. Yet adding components from the WELL standard really improved them.”

Delos, is administered by the International Well Building Institute, and is certified through the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), the same organization that provides certification for LEED.

As the pilot phase ends, the actual certification process begins and the public release of v1.0 of the WELL Building Standard happens at WELL 2014, which describes itself as “the first annual conference for commercial and residential design, construction, and real estate professionals who want to lead the market and build a movement for wellness real estate – a pioneering concept that marries design and construction with evidence-based technologies to support personal wellbeing and health.”

Molly Miller is Integral Group’s official storyteller. She is the author of the recent book Integral: Revolutionary Engineering and the editor of IG’s design blog.

The Integral Group Design Blog is a place where diverse individuals within our company express their opinions and ideas.