Posted on May 25, 2023
Your office, gym, school, or favorite museum might have a “WELL Certified” sticker or logo on the door. That means your building meets a set of peer-reviewed standards backed by the latest science and our understanding of health and wellness inside buildings.
Anyone with accreditation from an external group knows accreditation standards evolve, and WELL v1 is updating to WELL v2.
FAQs about WELL certification for buildings and interior spaces
What is WELL? Who are they?
Founded in 2014 by New York-based International Well Building Institute, WELL is a series of standards, ideals, and guidelines for designing buildings based on how humans interact with the air, water, materials, light, sound, and more in and around buildings.
Is WELL like LEED certification?
No, WELL is a separate accreditation standard. LEED is another common one you’ve probably seen or heard of, but where LEED focuses on energy efficiency and resilience in buildings—like minimizing water waste or fossil fuels—WELL focuses on more human issues within a building, like air and water quality.
What does WELL look for and grade against?
There are many criteria for a WELL-accredited building, such as having a healthy flow of outside air, light and comfort controls that promote safety and biological health, safe, high-quality drinking water, and even nutritious food options and sound controls. More on these standards are below.
How stringent is WELL v2 for buildings?
WELL v2 has more options and flexibility for building owners and projects. And some standards, like those listed below, apply differently to different buildings. An office may not offer many food services or options, but a school or hospital may have significant criteria to check against. A lab might have more material or sound mitigation needs than a library.
WELL v2 gives more flexibility and helps buildings be the best they can be for people’s health based on their real-world usage.
What’s the difference between WELL v1 and v2?
WELL v2 has expanded to include 112 features across 10 broad categories.
Within each category are various preconditions and optimizations. WELL has a document with the various changes in detail.
Several categories in v2 were originally smaller components or features of individual features in v1. For instance, Materials grew out of concepts initially in Air and Mind in v1.
- Air – Does the building have a smoke-free policy, adequate ventilation, and construction pollution controls?
- Water – Does the building have water for human consumption and bathing with a minimum of turbidity, harmful elements like lead, and bacteria?
- Nourishment – Does the building provide healthy food options like fruits and vegetables with transparent signage about processed foods, calories, and nutrition?
- Light – Does the light support human circadian rhythms and support controls to minimize exposure for those who need it, like autistic individuals or migraine sufferers.
- Movement – Formerly “fitness”, this standard asks if a building supports healthy movement, including ergonomics and workplace safety.
- Thermal Comfort – What used to be thermal performance is now all about comfort and asks if buildings control humidity, air speed, and offer individualized room controls.
- Sound – Does the building mitigate noise and support helpful acoustics?
- Materials – Are hazardous materials mitigated or safely managed? This includes waste management, site remediation, and reducing chemicals like VOCs found in paint.
- Mind – Does the building support quality mental health, such as tobacco cessation, substance abuse education, opioid response places, and restorative spaces? All of these are new in v2.
- Community – Does the building work for people in the community they serve, such as offering nursing rooms, bathroom accommodations, emergency preparedness, and engagement with the community during construction. This is the biggest, newest category in v2.
Broadly, WELL v2 simplifies the standards to merge like items, recognize new science, and give building designers, engineers, and architects more flexibility.
WELL v2 also uses a scoring system that’s similar to LEED, with four levels at Bronze (40 points), Silver (50 points), Gold (60 points) and WELL Platinum (80 points).
- A building must meet all 23 preconditions across all 10 categories to be certified.
- A building must also earn at least 2 points per concept.
- Building and construction teams can also pursue a “part achievement”, by following some optimizations separately.
- Buildings originally scored against v1 criteria can choose to be scored against v2 criteria. New and future recertifications will use the v2 standard.
- WELL v1 had more preconditions than v2. WELL v2 has fewer mandatory requirements and more optimizations to choose from. This makes v2 more appealing for more buildings since it’s not necessarily easier, just more flexible based on the ways buildings are used.
How do I get started with WELL v2?
If you’re interested in pursuing WELL certification for your building, R.E. Dimond and Associates is home to Dan Ulrich, Indiana’s only WELL Accredited Professional Engineer (P.E.).
Contact Dan Ulrich, P.E., email@example.com to get started today or discuss your engineering project or building needs.