Our environment has a huge impact on our health. In fact, there is mounting evidence that different factors of buildings influence our wellbeing, including indoor exposure to lighting, noise, overall atmosphere quality.
Solidifying the significance of this is the world’s first wellness building standard, known as the WELL Building Standard. Launched by Delos, the wellness building technology firm, the standard is backed by medical and architecture research and blends design and construction best practices.
According to Delos, the standard is the result of seven years of work and the collaboration between leading scientists, doctors, architects and thought leaders. It focuses specifically on how buildings impact the wellness of those who live and work within them, and how different elements can be intuitive and automated to enhance wellbeing, thus heralding a new way of thinking about smart buildings.
The nuts and bolts: breaking it down
Similar to how the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Envrionmental Design) accreditation process works, the WELL certification is based on performance and requires reaching a certain threshold. The performance requirements are divided into seven key concepts which focus on the ultimate aim of optimising the health of the occupant. The seven concepts are air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Spaces and buildings that pass the score for each of the seven categories are awarded one of the three levels: silver, gold or platinum, and receives the WELL certification.
The standard is inclusive of a variety of types of buildings, from commercial offices, to hotel chains, apartment buildings, warehouses and even schools. In addition, the certification is available to projects at any stage, whether newly constructed, undergoing renovation or already existing.
The WELL Building Standard in action
According to Delos, there are a number of benefits that existing spaces gain from working towards becoming wellness certified. For one, the building owners or operators are able to identify what low cost but high impact changes they can implement into the design, operations and policy levels that will directly improve the health and wellbeing of occupants. In addition, change makers can boost customer and employee satisfaction by displaying significant commitment to their comfort and value, while also using the certification to boost the value of their building asset and its widespread appeal.
Already, thousands of projects in 37 countries have been WELL certified or are in the process of being certified. Delos has also rolled out DARWIN, the wellness intelligence platform which showcases what buildings that are WELL certified can offer. DARWIN is an intelligent software system that works with existing smart home hardware to create a ‘wellness ecosystem’, focusing on the core components of lighting, temperature, air quality, water quality and sound. Using key data points, the system intuitively understands how the room is being used and how best to optimise each factor, thus creating a space that focuses on convenience, energy and, of course, wellbeing.
As the health movement continues to thrive in pockets around the globe and technology evolves, we expect the WELL Building Standard is just the start of a greater trend for smart buildings to become more holistic and valuable to both its owners and occupants.