Robert J. Kobet, AIA, LEED Faculty
One indication of the health and stability of the modern green building movement is the way in which an increasing number and diversity of related disciplines and interests have found common ground and ways of inspiring and supporting each other. Today’s green building industry is buoyed by a number of green building standards, green building code initiatives, allied private sector businesses and not for profit organizations, and Federal and State agencies, all of which are working toward the common goal of better communities and buildings. One example is how the International Construction Code Committee (ICC), ASHRAE, AIA, ASTM, and the USGBC among others. Several of these organizations are woven, in whole or in part, into today’s best-known green building rating systems. Chief among these are:
- Energy Star for Building Program
- Home Energy Rating System
- Green Globes
- Living Building Challenge
- National Green Building Standard
- Net Zero Energy Building
- Passive House
But as someone who has been trained by physicians in the art and science of allergy-free, non-toxic design, I am keenly interested in the potential of the new WELL Building Standard to recognize and embrace human ecology as a design determinant. The WELL Building Standard, currently in its pilot phase, focuses on the health and wellness impacts that the built environment has on occupants. Like the Living Building Challenge, which uses plant leafs as building categories; the WELL Building Standard uses human anatomy and body systems as its point of departure for informing building design. It resonates well with concepts put forth by Jane Benyus’ in Biomimicry, wherein she chronicles how nature can inspire the design of products and processes that can enrich the green building movement and other industries.
Areas of concentration or “concepts” are air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. The standard lays out optimal conditions for each in an effort to encourage a holistic, integrated approach to sustainability. In addition to the concepts, target health areas that the standard intends to address have been identified: focus, energy, form, sleep, stress, longevity, development, beauty, vitality, resilience, and alignment. By doing so, the WELL Building Standard promotes awareness of, and puts emphasis on, the importance of our physical and emotional well-being and how we interact with the built environment. I believe this will resonate well with anyone prone to multiple chemical sensitivities or other maladies that make them susceptible to physical insults or causal agents in the built environment. This awareness is the essence of the healthy house movement, and the basis for much of our response over the last three decades to eliminating sick building illnesses.
WELL Certification is awarded at one of three levels: blue, silver, or gold. Certification requires a building meet all preconditions for the seven concepts. Buildings must also undergo on-site air and water testing and other post-occupancy assessments. Like LEED for Existing Buildings that has a five-year or less recertification period, the WELL Building Standard requires reassessment every three years in order to maintain certification.
The standard can be applied to a variety of building types, including commercial tenant spaces, existing commercial buildings, hospitality, sports facilities, restaurants, and residential buildings. It is administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and certified through the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). It works in conjunction with LEED, the Living Building Challenge, and other green building certifications.
84 Lumber and GreenEdge Supply share your interest in green, healthy approaches to building and living. If you have questions about how your well-being is impacted by where you spend your time – at home, at work or school – or if you have questions regarding what building rating systems are best for you, contact us at www.greenedgesupply.com and let our in house staff answer your building questions. And, most of all, be WELL!