An Exploration of WELL and Fitwel

Leadership in Energy and Environmental DesignTM (LEED®) was the first major building certification to enter the scene, and it has made a major global impact since its launch in 1993. The WELL Building Standard® and Fitwel®, however, are still unfamiliar concepts to many. Despite their obscurity, they have opened the healthy building movement up into a diverse industry, and they have allowed for more flexibility in the pursuit of a healthier workplace.

As the 21st century propels further into the health craze, obtaining one of these certifications becomes more and more critical. After all, millennials put health and well-being as a priority when searching for jobs, and they will make up about 40% of the workforce by 2020.1 Understanding the options available allows businesses to find the right fit for them.

Inside WELL

The WELL Building Standard was officially launched in 2014 by Delos, a wellness real estate and technology firm, and has since been managed by the International WELL Building InstituteTM (IWBITM).

With a 20% - 30% overlap in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and indoor lighting, WELL was designed to work harmoniously with LEED.1 It expands on LEED's sustainability focus and concentrates more on improving occupant health, productivity, and overall quality of life. It does so by covering seven main concepts.

The seven concepts that must be supported to achieve WELL certification are air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.2 These seven concepts are comprised of 100 features. Each feature is either a precondition (must be achieved) or an optimization (optional). They are all detailed, which can attribute to the fact that the WELL certification is a bit more complex than its counterparts. With that being said, being held to a higher standard means achieving exceptional results.

The Concepts of the WELL Building Standard
The Concept of the Well Building Standard v2
© 2018, Delos3

Like LEED, the WELL certification follows an achievement breakdown with the following levels: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. If a building meets every precondition and no optimizations in the WELL Building Standard, then it is eligible for Silver Certification. If a building meets every precondition and 40% of the optimizations in the WELL Building Standard, then it is eligible for Gold Certification. Finally, if a building meets all preconditions and 80% of the optimizations in the WELL Building Standard, then it is eligible for Platinum Certification.3

Inside Fitwel

Looking for similar results, but perhaps not ready for the full investment? Fitwel is less strict in their certification process, less demanding in their price, and focuses more on employee lifestyle than building upgrades. To obtain this certification, businesses must implement programs for their employees to have access to better nutritional choices, increased physical activity, and an improved indoor environment.4 Unlike WELL, this certification does not require on-site verification.

The 12 impact categories that cover Fitwel outline the relevance of building features in relation to occupants, active design, and nutrition. These impact categories cover location (walkability), building access, outdoor spaces, entrances and ground floor, stairwells, indoor environment, workspaces, shared spaces, water supply, cafeterias and prepared food retail, vending machines and snack bars, and emergency procedures.5 Based on the achievements within these 12 impact categories, a building can receive 1 (90-104 pts), 2 (105-124 pts), or 3 (125-144 pts) stars.5

Fitwel
© 2017, Fitwel5

Making the Right Decision

In conclusion, WELL allows companies to pay more to achieve a higher performance level, ultimately providing a more effective long-term investment. On the other hand, Fitwel is an affordable and accessible alternative that allows for more businesses to hop on board of this healthy building movement.

Both options give companies a competitive advantage in employee acquisition, retention, and productivity by displaying their commitment to improving the health and well-being of their occupants.

Resources

  1. https://www.verdicalgroup.com/leed-andthe-well-building-standard/

  2. https://chesterenergyandpolicy.com/2018/08/08/sustainable-buildings-beyond-leed-how-the-well-building-standard-addresses-health-of-the-people-inside-and-protects-the-environment-outside/ 

  3. https://www.wellcertified.com/

  4. https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/office/workplace-design-is-changing-part-3-the-evolution-of-health-in-the-office-81660

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