Wellbeing is now at the heart of construction process with close attention being paid to ensure that buildings are energy compliant and sustainable. Here we share our thoughts on how the building services industry can best equip for a change in the construction landscape to provide better wellness to occupiers.
Developed by The International WELL Building Institute, the WELL Standard is a performance-based assessment methodology, focused on the way buildings and everything in them run to enhance our health and wellness. It aim is to provide a framework for achieving building wellness. WELL works in conjunction with global green building rating systems like LEED and BREEAM to enhance and add another dynamic to building performance.
The assessment is split into 7 Concepts
Clean air is a critical component to our health. Air pollution is the number one environmental cause of premature mortality, contributing to approximately 7 million, or premature deaths worldwide. The WELL Air concept aims to ensure high levels of indoor air quality through diverse strategies that include source elimination or reduction, active and passive building design and operation strategies and human behavior interventions.
Clean drinking water is a prerequisite for optimal health. The Water concept therefore covers aspects of the quality, distribution and control of liquid water in a building. It includes features that address the availability and contaminant thresholds of drinking water, as well as features targeting the management of water to avoid damage to building materials and environmental conditions.
Nutrition and health are closely related. Poor nutrition is a top contributor to the global burden of noncommunicable diseases and a modifiable risk factor for numerous preventable chronic diseases. The Nourishment concept requires the availability of fruits and vegetables and nutritional transparency and encourages the creation of food environments where the healthiest choice is the easiest choice.
Light is the main driver of the visual and circadian systems, light exposure stimulates the circadian system, which starts in the brain and regulates physiological rhythms throughout the body’s tissues and organs, such as hormone levels and the sleep-wake cycle. The Light concept in WELL promotes exposure to light and aims to create lighting environments that are optimal for visual, mental and biological health.
Physical activity, or rather, inactivity, has emerged as a primary focus of public health due to a rise in premature mortality and chronic diseases attributed to physical inactivity, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, stroke, dementia and some forms of cancer. The WELL Fitness concept promotes movement, physical activity and active living and discourages sedentary behaviors through environmental design strategies, programs and policies.
The indoor environment should be a place of comfort. In pursuit of that vision, the Comfort concept focuses on significantly reducing the most common sources of physiological disruption, distraction and irritation and on enhancing acoustic, ergonomic, olfactory and thermal comfort to prevent stress and injury and facilitate comfort, productivity and well-being.
Mental health is not simply the absence of a mental health condition. Rather, it is a state of wellbeing in which individuals are able to live to their fullest potential, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and contribute to their community. The Mind concept promotes mental health through policy, program and design strategies that seek to address the diverse factors that influence cognitive and emotional well-being.
“The steps to achieve certification are graduated making it accessible to a wide range of products. Even without formally certifying a building, there is a lot to be gained from introducing the concept of Wellness into your next project.”