5 Favorite Features of the WELL Building Standard ® By Kat West

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Treadmill Desk from The Human Solution

Treadmill Desk from The Human Solution











Kat West, JLL Sustainability Specialist

Kat West, JLL Sustainability Specialist

Is your building making you WELL?


The New Year is upon us and many have made health commitments to lose weight, eat right, and exercise more.  What if the building you live, work, or play in could help with these pursuits?


The WELL Building Standard® aims to do just that. WELL expands the concept of healthy indoor environmental quality by establishing 100 design and operational building features to promote nourishment, comfort, fitness, happiness, calmness, and overall health.


Launched in 2014, the standard quickly gained support of notable individuals and organizations including the Clinton Global Initiative, Deepak Chopra, The Mayo Clinic, and U.S. Green Building Council.


Where the LEED rating system has prerequisites and credits, WELL introduces preconditions and optimizations, respectively. Optimization features are optional whereas 100% of preconditions must be met to earn WELL certification for a building.


Here are my top 5 favorite features of the WELL building standard:


  • Want to hit your goals on your Fitbit®? WELL can help you with that. Just see Feature 64: Interior Fitness Circulation, a precondition requiring accessible staircases in buildings between 2 and 4 stories tall. Not only must stairs be provided but aesthetic enhancements such as artwork or music in the stairwell are required.


  • If you’re frequently exhausted at work but want to avoid caffeine you may appreciate Feature 89: Adaptable Spaces. This feature requires that sleep pods, hammocks, fully reclining chairs, cushioned mats, or couches be made available to occupants. If you think napping at work is passé consider the fact that the Huffington Post encourages worktime naps with two nap rooms. This successful company generated over $146 million in revenue in 2014.


  • Feature 91: Business Travel set limits on business travel. While the implementation of this feature could get tricky, I do agree with the guiding principles behind it. Employees taking red eye flights are allowed to work from home the day of arrival. Business trip travel time is limited. A 6 hour flight for a 2 hour meeting would not be permissible under this feature. (Keep in mind that optimization features are optional whereas preconditions are required for any level of certification.)


  • Features 71: Active Furnishings promotes physical activity in the workplace through gym equipment and standing desks including treadmill desks and even bicycle desks. This innovative feature may be hard to implement in an open office setting but the benefits are enormous. Just ask Susan Orlean, Staff Writer for New Yorker magazine. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/05/20/the-walking-alive


  • Rounding out my top 5 is Feature 51: Food Production. This feature credits projects located within 0.5 miles of a garden or greenhouse with at least 1 square foot of growing space per occupant. During the Greenbuild 2015 Opening Plenary James Cameron said the best way to teach kids to eat vegetables is to have them grow vegetables. The same may be true for adults. Healthy meals are more palatable and affordable when fresh produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, and basil plants are a short walk from the office.


Visit www.wellcertified.com to see all the features of the WELL Rating System.


Healthy buildings and healthy environments are important for healthy productivity. With so many different strategies to achieve Well Buildings, what works for some may not work for others. Leave a comment to let us know what works best for your organization or email me at Kat.West@am.jll.com.


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