The 7 Concepts of the WELL Building Standard
Each of the seven concepts - or petals, as WELL calls them - is based on established industry standards, like those created by ASHRAE.
Concept: Air. WELL Certification takes best practices, including ASHRAE standards, and focuses them on occupant health and productivity. WELL Feature #02, Smoking Ban, requires an indoor ban on e-cigarettes. In addition, facility managers pursuing WELL certification will need to work on cleaning protocols and meeting recommended timelines for filter changes.
Concept: Water. Spaces looking to achieve WELL certification must ensure the quality and availability of drinking water. For example, WELL Feature #37, Drinking Water Promotion, can be accomplished by offering a filtered drinking water dispenser in every refrigerator or water cooler. The standard requires that drinking water be available within 100 feet of all regularly occupied desks. Some projects are also investigating the use of high-tech options. One example is a free-standing water cooler that uses UV light to ensure that the cleanest water is being delivered. New products work continuously to keep ice machines clean from mold, bacteria, and viruses.
Concept: Light. The quick way to ensure a project meets WELL Feature #61, Right to Light, is by ensuring that all desks have a daylight view. This can be done by designing office space with glass walls. WELL also address the non-visual impacts of light, specifically through the circadian system. WELL Feature #54, Circadian Lighting Design, focuses on creating the right daytime light intensity in the space. One strategy is to provide at least 75 percent of workstations with circadian task lights.
Concept: Comfort. While WELL Feature #73, Ergonomics: Visual and Physical, only requires 30 percent of workstations have the ability to alternate between sitting and standing positions, many facilities are now moving towards all desks on electronic adjust, sit-stand, allowing the occupant of the desk to determine the height of both the desk surface and the monitor.
WELL finds that the effects of even slight visual or physical discomfort are compounded, leading to decreased occupant comfort and focus. To improve thermal comfort, more modern offices are dedicating an area to “free address,” or provide the building occupants the ability to choose the work area where they feel most comfortable. WELL Feature #82, Individual Thermal Comfort, recommends that 50 percent of a workspace be designated as free address, which allows occupants to choose the best space given the outdoor temperature and their wardrobe selection for the day.
Concepts: Fitness, Nourishment, and Mind. The built environment does have the ability to influence these key concepts of wellness. These concepts may require facility managers to partner with their human resources departments or building ownership groups, but the work environment itself can promote wellness in these areas.
Many organizations may already have a program in place which meets WELL Feature #65, Activity Incentive Program. The WELL standard holds that as long as employees track up to 50 workouts or more in a six-month period, they are able to expense fitness-related costs up to $200. The maximum reimbursement is $400 annually.
WELL Feature #38, Fruits and Vegetables, encourages people to incorporate more fruits and vegetables as a central component of their diets by ensuring that at least two varieties of fruits and two varieties of non-fried vegetables are distributed on a daily basis. At one sample project, the organization started doing this right around the same time that they threw out all of the candy bowls. The organization also adjusted all provided soda to be in 7.5 oz cans.
How well does WELL work? At one project, surveys showed that team members working in the WELL space felt 86 percent more productive. The conference room in this WELL space has also received 43 percent more use than its peer rooms in the more traditional office. Staff and outside visitors notice and praise the new environment.
Facility managers should strive to create the healthiest, most productive spaces for occupants and customers. Criteria like the WELL Building Standard help guide an organization on where to spend funds to turn offices into productivity destinations where teams will prefer to meet.
Ray Carney, WELL AP, is vice president of operations and oversees the development of Markon Solution’s corporate infrastructure to support growth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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