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Are You Ready to Build WELL?

Posted by: Frank Sherman

There is a lot to like about the WELL Building Standard®. It’s informative, aspirational, and for those who focus on continuous improvement in their work or in their lives there is much to gain from delving into this Standard.  But do we really need another new building standard?

Many will say “of course we do, we need all the help we can get!” Others, including many talented but over whelmed architects will view the Standard as another set of issues that their buildings need to address with dwindling time and fee. Many are not yet equipped to take on this challenge.

The more you dive into the WELL Building Standard® the more you discover it is an Organizational standard which is supported by good building design. This new standard is closer to LEED-EBOM (Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance) than it is to the LEED-NC (New Construction) family of rating systems. With WELL, the building plays a supportive role in achieving certification, the built environment becomes your enabler – in a good way.

I don’t doubt that clients may take on the Well Building Standard® with cross-fit zeal, only to find that it is  1] hard work, and  2] is not a magic bullet. Changing fashion could relegate this standard to the back of the closet with all the other Lulumon gear. But the more you delve into it, the more you find useful ideas and tools to incorporate into your design approach. Which is what good architecture should be about; building design intelligence and incorporating it into all the work you do.

The WELL Building Standard® incorporates features of LEED and the Living Building Challenge with the best current thinking about personal and environmental health. Indeed, the two are inseparable as Deepak Chopra so elegantly stated in his presentation at Greenbuild; we are the expression of our universe and our surrounding environment is the localized expression of that same universe. Our own health and well-being, the health and well-being of our community, as well that the health and well-being of the environment are one and the same and must be addressed at all scales. WELL attempts to integrate health across a spectrum of influence. It requires commitment at the personal, organizational and architectural level.

The irony is that I did not haul my still groggy body off to the gym this morning because this standard was on my mind – not good for my health goals. I will be the first to admit that I still have a way to go in my personal and professional wellness development, but progress is being made. I think the WELL Building Standard® will prove to be useful and influential to many of us. It reminds me that I need to revisit David Gottfried’s concept of LEED for LIFE, which I will do if stress and deadlines don’t get to me first.
So I remind myself to just breathe.
 

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