Jorge Chapa

A new guidance document will work to better align the Green Star and WELL Building Standard tools, promising better health and sustainability outcomes.

The Green Star and WELL Building Standard: Approaches to buildings or fitouts seeking a dual rating document, a collaboration between the Green Building Council of Australia and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), seeks to simplify the process for projects pursuing both ratings.

The document maps out Green Star credits and notes criteria that may also help contribute to WELL certification, and vice versa. Where the level of overlap is considered “equivalent”, being awarded a credit on one rating tool can then be used as verification for the other.

For example, WELL’s VOC Reduction category can be met by satisfying Green Star’s Indoor Pollution credit.

Credits can also be assigned as “partial” or “aligned”, meaning they can assist in gaining the other rating’s credit to some degree.

“As owners and investors increasingly look to third-party certification to demonstrate transparency, accountability and a commitment to best practice, we must ensure certification is an easy and cost-effective process,” GBCA head of market transformation Jorge Chapa said.

“By working together to map out the synergies within the two rating tools, project teams can avoid duplication of effort, and achieve both Green Star and WELL ratings faster, and cheaper. Building owners don’t have to choose between health and sustainability – both are more easily achieved as a result of this work.”

While there are some areas where the tools won’t overlap, due to an element of performance verification in WELL and some American standards falling short of meeting Green Star requirements, “it’s likely that specific design and construction features promoted by Green Star will help in achieving WELL certification and vice versa”, the document says.

There has also been concerns that WELL’s extremely high standards for areas like air filtration could lead to higher energy consumption, putting it in conflict with some of Green Star’s credits.

Energy versus IEQ conflicts can be managed – there are tradeoffs

Mr Chapa told The Fifth Estate that while there was an “unfortunate conflict” between creating good indoor spaces and energy consumption – you need more energy to pump out more of the naturally occurring carbon dioxide, VOCs, etcetera, and increased daylighting can mean increased heat loads – thinking about buildings as systems could help balance these concerns.

“You can still make some choices that will impact energy consumption, just as you can make choices that effect IEQ. There’s trade offs, and design solutions can provide the best outcomes.

“It’s about thinking about how can you build a system that can do both.”

And the guidance document, he said, could help to do just that.

IWBI chair and chief executive Rick Fedrizzi said Australia was at the forefront of the healthy building movement, and that the partnership between his organisation and the GBCA would promote sustainability and health outcomes.

“By taking advantage of the natural synergies between Green Star and WELL, we can have rapid and significant impact on both planetary and public health,” Mr Fedrizzi said.

Currently guidance is being provided for new buildings or fitouts going for Green Star – Design & As Built or Green Star – Interiors ratings, though there are plans to include Performance rating in future updates.

See the full document.

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  1. IWBI’s WELL exposed and shone direct daylight on to building environments neglected by the ‘green’ certification bodies that had been promoting healthy and productive buildings and financial outcomes for many years.

    Adaptation and cohabitation now to the fore as marketing trumps past ‘green’ standards to embrace change. What’s that old saying? “It’s WELL for some!”

    Some past ‘green’ practitioners are doing very well for themselves. There’s a better life beyond ‘green’ seemingly. Change and disruption are constant companions across all our environments.