Trending: The WELL Building Standard: A Worker Focused Performance Based Rating System

September 2018

Over the past 20 years, state and local governments, real estate developers, corporations and tenants have all, to varying degrees, jumped on the “green” building bandwagon. Much credit needs to be given to the U.S. Green Building Council and its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly development. “Green” buildings have proven not only good for the environment, but good for communities and businesses. The best “green” buildings often enjoy a rent premium and are sited to enhance the livability of the communities in which they are located.

The original focus of the “green” building movement, as represented by LEED, prioritized reducing greenhouse gas pollution generated by buildings. “Green” building success was achieved by architects and engineers developing and using energy efficient building systems and materials and addressing site location issues that impacted waste removal, water runoff and transportation alternatives to the car. A secondary focus was on the health of the building’s workers. Points were available for bike rooms, on-site workout facilities and the amount of natural light that penetrated a building. But this focus on the health of the building’s workers remained secondary to the energy efficiency/greenhouse gas reduction primary focus.

The WELL Building Standard, created by the International WELL Building Institute, is a relatively new building rating system that promotes work environments that enhance worker health and productivity. WELL requires periodic testing of the air, water, light, thermal comfort and sound levels in a building to determine compliance with measurable standards and tolerance levels developed by professional consultants. As such, WELL is a rating system that is complimentary to LEED, and not in place of LEED. For example, while LEED focuses on the energy efficiency of a building’s HVAC system, WELL focuses on the comfort level at each work station. WELL is concerned with temperature variations, air flow and air humidity. All of these impact the performance and productivity of employees.

WELL measures air particles and water purity for health safety issues. In Beijing, China, sophisticated air filtration systems are an essential component of best practice building design and are necessary to provide clean air in a pollution challenged city. Closer to home, water infrastructure issues have made clean water an issue that is getting more attention. WELL also looks at light differently than LEED. Whereas LEED gives points for natural light in the overall building, WELL focuses on light, including task lighting, at the work station level.

With many companies moving to open work spaces, workplace noise has increasingly become an issue. There is noise from building systems, such as elevators and HVAC equipment, but there is also noise from office computers, copiers and other office equipment, and fellow workers. In fact, addressing the noise issues generated from fellow workers has become a real challenge. WELL provides guidance on steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of noise on employee productivity.

WELL also promotes employee health. Having an on-site exercise facility is great, but WELL digs deeper and tracks data on utilization and employer promotion of exercise and healthy eating. WELL evaluates whether the work environment promotes movement within the office and at the work station through ergonomically designed furniture. Proximity of healthy food options for lunch and breaks is also important.

As with LEED, it will take some time for the WELL Building Standard to be broadly implemented and many may choose not to go to the expense of being certified. However, just as elements of LEED are now commonplace in buildings and considered best practices, over time elements of WELL will become commonplace and best practices.

Firm Highlights
News

Jeremy P. Brummond’s Article on Waivers of Consequential Damages is Published in Construction Executive

More
Client Alert

Model COBRA Notices Under the American Rescue Plan Act

More
Client Alert

Supreme Court Hands Down Unanimous Decision Limiting FTC’s Ability to Seek Monetary Relief

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Fatima G. Khan Elected President of South Asian Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

More
News

Meghan S. Largent and Lindsay S. C. Brinton Negotiate $700,000 Award to Cobb County, Georgia Landowners in Rails-to-Trails Case

More
News

Lindsay S. C. Brinton and Meghan S. Largent Negotiate $1.4 Million Settlement for Landowners along Legacy Trail

More
Client Alert

Temporary COBRA Changes Under the American Rescue Plan Act

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Lewis Rice Member Ronald A. Norwood Serves on Missouri Bar’s Special Committee on Lawyers of Color to Establish Diversity, Inclusion Programs

More
Client Alert

Federal Appellate Court Determines a Website Is Not a “Place of Public Accommodation” Under the ADA

More
Client Alert

Have You Done Your Annual CCPA Housekeeping?

More
News

Kansas City Office of Lewis Rice Names New Member

More
Client Alert

New York State Regulator Discourages Ransomware Payments and Publishes New Cyber Insurance Risk Framework

More
Client Alert

COVID-19 Rescue Plan Act Expands Paid Leave Availability but Does Not Revive Employer Mandates

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Two Lewis Rice Members Selected for Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Programs

More
Client Alert

CROWN Act Legislation on the Verge of Passage in St. Louis City & County

More
Client Alert

Public Access to Electronic Court Records in Missouri

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Law Firm ILN-telligence Podcast Hosts Ronald A. Norwood to Discuss Mentorship, Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Industry, and the Importance of Equity for All

More
News

Brian P. Pezza Gives Advice on Vaccination Acceptance in the Workforce in Society for Human Resource Management Article

More
News

Jerina D. Phillips Offers COVID-19 Vaccination Advice for Employers in St. Louis Magazine Article

More
Client Alert

Virginia Passes Sweeping Data Privacy Legislation Similar to CCPA and GDPR

More