The WELL Building Standard has created waves on Australian shores since its recent arrival. The performance-based certification system challenges industry to understand and improve the relationship between the built environment and human health and wellbeing.
The standard is grounded in seven years of medical, scientific and industry research, referencing existing standards and best practice guidelines set by government and professional organisations like the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, LEED and the Living Building Challenge, while also overlapping with Australian tools like Green Star.
To date, 217 projects have registered for certification worldwide and eight of those have been certified. Nineteen of those registered are located in Australia, with 11 registered projects in NSW alone.
How is WELL applied to the commercial building?
Assuming you’re a building owner controlling 25 per cent of the total floor space in a building through common areas, amenity spaces and spaces dedicated to the management and operations of the building, then you would pursue Core & Shell Certification.
Other typologies or project types covered in the standard include New and Existing Interiors, and New and Existing Buildings. The standard defines new and existing buildings as owner occupied with control of a minimum of 90 per cent of the total floor area operated by the same management.
New and Existing Interiors, and New and Existing Buildings WELL typologies need to be recertified after three years to maintain their certification level.
Recertification is not required for a Core & Shell Certified building.
Seven measurable concepts
The WELL Building Standard is divided into seven concepts related to occupant health, covering air, water, light, fitness, nourishment, comfort and mind. Within the seven concepts, a building must achieve 26 set preconditions to attain Silver Certification. In addition to the 26 preconditions, 12 “optimisations” applicable to Core and Shell typology must be met to reach Gold Certification (40 per cent per cent of optimisations applicable to Core and Shell) and 23 optimisations are needed to reach Platinum Certification (80 per cent of the optimisations applicable to Core and Shell).
An optimisation is best described as going above and beyond the basic requirements of a set precondition.
For Core & Shell Certification, there are 30 optimisations to choose from. They range from combustion minimisation to drinking water promotion.
Certifying your building
The WELL certification process itself involves five steps:
- Registration: through WELL Online, designed to take projects through the WELL certification process from start to finish
- Documentation: required prior to final certification review
- Performance verification: A series of onsite post-occupancy performance tests
- Certification: when the project has successfully documented compliance with all features and passed performance verification
- Recertification: completed after three years, which ensures the project maintains the same high level of design, maintenance and operations over time. For Core & Shell projects, no recertification is required.
Performance verification involves a number of different verification processes depending on the feature. They can range from onsite performance testing to spot checks, policy documents and visual inspections conducted by an authorised WELL Assessor (different to a WELL Accredited Professional).
Statistics gathered post certification of the CBRE Los Angeles office (the first ever WELL Certified project) determined that 92 per cent of occupants felt their new environment had a more positive affect on their health and wellbeing.
This is an exciting time in our industry. While WELL is still relatively new, by pushing us beyond industry best practice to understand the correlation between green building and health and wellness, we can have a more positive impact on not only the environment, but the health of current and future generations.
Eminè Mehmet is a WELL Accredited Professional & Green Star Accredited Professional. Through her business, WELL Space, Eminè helps you & your clients achieve an environment that supports human health & wellbeing, increasing productivity, staff attraction & retention.