The WELL Building system is one of the newer green building certification systems in the market. WELL was created by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). IWBI is a public benefit corporation that is leading the movement to promote health and wellness in buildings and communities everywhere. IWBI was launched in 2013 following a Clinton Global Initiative commitment. The WELL Building system was launched in October 2014 after six years of research and development.
The WELL Building Standard is the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness. WELL focuses more on the internal health and wellbeing of the building occupants, as opposed to the performance of the building in terms of energy savings, water savings, or material environmental impact like, the LEED, BREEAM, or EDGE certification systems. The WELL system has 7 major categories to promote occupant’s health:
- Air Quality
100 different health features let the certification applicant achieve one of three levels of certification: Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
What values does the WELL system bring to the property owner of developer? People spend the majority of their time indoors, at work or at home. With Asia’s long works hours the office consumes much of an employee’s hours during the week. In fact, according to the IWBI website, 90% of our time is spent indoors. Hence the quality of our office buildings have a strong impact on our productivity and the way we feel. The highest cost for any employer is payroll. The IWBI website estimates that employers spend 92% of their annual operating costs on people. Thus a system like WELL can profoundly positively affect productivity and result in meaningful returns on investment. According to a 2014 Urban Land Institute study1, which looked at the business case for developing healthy buildings, 13 developers reported that healthy buildings resulted in greater marketability and faster leasing and sales velocity, in addition to commanding higher rents. High-quality buildings have higher resale values, so the higher cost of adding WELL features is recouped over time. Buildings with healthy features command up to a 20 percent rent premium over market rate, in addition to savings on operational costs according to Hines Senior Managing Director in Houston, John Mooz.2
So what are the costs? These will vary depending on what features are pursued. According to an article in the US National Real Estate Investor an IWBI spokesperson told NREI that the cost to buildout the headquarters of Structure Tone, a New York City-based design firm, with WELL features came to less than $1 per sq. ft.3 Lower costs can be achieved if the WELL applicant pursues just the Silver certification level and/or chooses features that have little upfront costs, such as policy based features.
WELL is well on its way to becoming a popular standard in the United States. It is still new to the Asian market. However, the appeal for such a system is quite strong for Asian cities, given the significant presence of air pollution. A WELL certified space will be more attractive to building tenants, as well as employees. According to research presented at a WELL workshop in Asia, 94 per cent of businesses that adopt WELL standards report a positive impact on their business performance, and 83 per cent of employees feel more productive in a WELL environment.4 Higher internal health standards for offices will become more in demand until the Asian urban air pollution environment improves.
Development Management Group offers WELL building certification, as well as other green building certifications such as LEED, TREES, and EDGE. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 076-617-763.
- Patricia Kirk: Is WELL Certification Worth It for Developers? (The National Real Estate Investor, 10 July 2017).
- Jones Lang LaSalle: Will the idea of ‘wellness’ catch on in Asian workplaces (Jones Lang LaSalle Real View 25, Sept. 2015)