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3 Key Changes to the WELL Building Standard
Nearly 1,000 projects informed the evolution of the WELL building rating system. WELL v2, which is now open for registration, builds on the lessons learned from projects registered or certified in 33 countries. The changes let project teams pursue the strategies that will matter most to their building and community while still abiding by WELL’s focus on performance verification.
WELL v2 takes broad strides by consolidating its previous iterations into one standard for all project types. The program’s digital platform suggests “features,” or recommended credits in each of the 10 concept categories, based on project-specific parameters that teams can then refine. The requirements of v2 build on the original WELL certification, but project teams will notice several key differences, including these three.
1) New Concepts and Credits
WELL v2 adds three new concepts, or credit categories, to the original seven. Sound, Materials and Community now join Air, Water, Nourishment, Light and Mind. Fitness and Comfort are now Movement and Thermal Comfort.
The Sound category focuses on acoustics, requiring at least an acoustical plan that identifies noise sources inside and outside the space. Optional features address noise management by identifying the projected background noise level and using sound barriers, absorption and masking techniques.
Related: 6 Myths of Workplace Acoustics
Materials examines product ingredients and tasks project teams with identifying and reducing occupants’ exposure to hazardous materials. Features examine best practices for waste management, pesticides, cleaning products and VOCs that are commonly used in building materials.
The Community concept promotes an understanding of the factors that affect the well-being of both building occupants and the larger community. Project teams will start with educational material on locally relevant health topics, a collaborative project process focusing on integrative design strategies and a basic occupant survey.
2) Seeing the Impact
Point values are now weighted according to their potential to create meaningful impacts for building occupants and the community. Project teams can focus on the features that affect the most people and be sure that their design choices will actually make a measurable difference.
WELL v2 also features fewer preconditions, and those that remain in the program have been updated to reflect the latest evidence and increase their real-world applicability.
3) New Certification Types
Most of the early iterations of WELL v1 have been combined into one single program that’s meant to cover all building types. However, there are a couple of other options.
WELL Core Certification (formerly WELL Core and Shell Compliance) is an alternate pathway for core and shell buildings. Any building can pursue Core certification as long as the owner occupies 25% or less of the gross floor area.
Project teams can also earn a WELL Design & Operations (D&O) designation by undergoing an optional early phase review. This interim recognition celebrates progress toward full WELL certification, providing teams with an easy way to showcase their plans.