A building standard that is focused on human health

This piece is taken from our newsletter "Force of Nature" see more and subscribe here.

Most building standards are, not surprisingly, focused on the building: How should this be built, how much air can come in or out, how much energy is needed to operate, etc. Well, well, well, the world now has a standard where peoples' health and wellness are centered. It is called the "WELL Building Standard®" and is a  "performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind." 

This is not the first standard to account for human health, we reported last month on the Living Building Challenge that does this, but the Well Building Standard® (WBS) may be the first to make it a focus. Natural builders (and others) have of course been paying attention to the health environment in buildings for years, but this is a standard set of measurements.

The WBS is designed to work with the LEED standard (and others) so that one doesn't simply design a building good for those in it, but not out of it (of course the health of people inside and outside of buildings requires buildings to dramatically reduce their green house gas emissions and the carbon emissions that result due to the materials used in the building).

The WSB  examines over 100 features of buildings including performance aspects as well as specific technologies, design strategies or protocols needed. From the quality of the air circulating, to the water quality, to the promotion of exercise and sleep the WBS covers a lot. 

At the end of May this year the TD Bank group's office in Toronto became the first "WELL Certification under v1 of the WELL Building Standard™" in the world. "TD renovated 25,000 square feet of corporate office space located within Cadillac Fairview's TD Centre in downtown Toronto, Canada. Marrying their existing corporate design standards and WELL’s New and Existing Interiors typology, the space incorporates health and wellness features throughout."

The International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) is a (for -profit) "public benefit corporation" whose mission is "to improve human health and well-being through the built environment." Certification is good for three years and then buildings must be assessed. In 2014 the fist standard for the WSB was launched, see a short video on that event here: