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WELL Building Standard and LEED

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) recently launched the WELL Building Standard Version 1.0 at the inaugural WELL Building Symposium in New Orleans. Considered the world's first building standard to focus on enhancing people's health and wellbeing through the built environment, the WELL Building Standard is a performance-based certification system that marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research. It was developed over seven years of rigorous research and development working with leading physicians, scientists and industry professionals, and sets performance requirements in seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The standard also underwent a two-year pilot program and a three-phase expert Peer Review process that encompassed a scientific, practitioner and medical review.

While WELL v1.0 is optimized for commercial and institutional buildings, it can be applied to new construction and major renovations, tenant improvements, and core and shell developments. Since it is evidence-based and performance driven, designed specifically to focus on the people in the building, Michelle Moore, IWBI senior vice president, says it works as a powerful compliment to the LEED green building standard and sustainable building practices overall, as projects that are WELL certified are also LEED certified.

"WELL is really optimized when you use it in concert with LEED," Moore says. "We are really proud of our collaboration with the Green Building Certification Institute. It is a perfect manifestation of our commitment to align WELL and LEED. From a users' perspective, doing both is a very streamlined process. And, that's manifested in a couple of specific ways, even with our launch, and demonstrated in the way the program was developed."

USGBC and GBCI served as peer reviewers and their technical teams helped to ensure the LEED and WELL were aligned at the technical level, Moore explains. "WELL very much brings a focus on occupant health and wellness on top of a traditional sustainable design practices, but there are about a dozen credits from LEED where there's overlap," she adds. "So we have aligned those so that the performance standard and also the documentation requirements are connected."

Additionally, WELL Online is built on the same platform as LEED Online so when a project is registered with WELL information can be brought in directly from an already registered LEED project.

Moore adds that Mahesh Ramanujam, president of GBCI, is on their advisory council. His leadership and vision, Moore says, not only as it relates to how we bring these programs to market in a collaborative way, but also his vision for international engagement, is incredibly powerful for them.

To date, approximately 7.7 million square feet of commercial, institutional, and multifamily real estate has been registered for certification through WELL.

"We are committed to the continuous improvement process," Moore explains. "We are excited about how much we've learned and how far we've come through the commitment of our advisory council, our peer reviewers and all the projects who have worked with us to apply the program so far. Version 1 is really optimized for commercial and institutional. We do have an active multifamily pilot, and we look forward to continuing to refine the standard so we are meeting the particular needs of different types of real estate properties."

The WELL Building Standard is available at


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