Over the past century, life in Western Civilization has changed dramatically, whole cities, buildings and occupations spring from the rapid change. The lives of people are vastly different from preceding generations. This great change arrives from technology and the break neck speed of development, which rapidly outpaces physical, emotional, and mental human change. Throughout the majority of human history, people spent a large amount of their time outdoors. An active life close to nature when people knew the names of all their neighbors shaped human minds and bodies. Sitting for hours on end with self imposed captivity, like most moderns do, slowly damages physical and mental health.
The proverbial train of 21st century design is leaving with conventional design using cutting edge 20th century principles left at the station. Will we stay on the platform as the future train leaves or hop aboard towards healthy designed spaces? The built space becomes proportionally important as humans spend increasingly larger amounts of time inside buildings; therefore, the buildings we design, inhabit and work in can either deter or benefit our health greatly. Fear not, organizations are pushing for environmentally sustainable building practices.
Currently, most architects, designers and builders know of LEED Certification and know it will become standard building practice. LEED shines as an example of design and building for environmental impact. Curiously, an equally vital consideration is absent, the impact on the human inhabitants. Delos pioneered a companion certification to address the impact on human health of buildings called the WELL Building Standard.
The WELL Building Standard is the first building certification focusing on the health of people working, living, and socializing in buildings. As people spend roughly 90% of their time in buildings, the environments in which we live, work, and socialize have the greatest impact on our health. Knowing the effect of prolonged exposure to unhealthy interiors, Delos spearheaded seven years of extensive research by scientists, doctors, architects and designers searching for quantifiable factors linked to health and well-being. Equipped with the knowledge of the profound impact built spaces assert on human health, Delos developed WELL.
Building structures with an eye towards the WELL Building Standard ensures those many hours spent indoors promote the greatest physical and psychological well being possible. As a result, the tenants, employees, and customers become more productive, healthier and happier. Human health is influenced the most by the following categories measured by the WELL Building Standard:
Implementing steps in each category towards the WELL Building Standard increase inhabitants, employees and customers:
- Sleep patterns
- Performance of Occupants
WELL Certification requires acceptable performance in each of the seven categories to achieve a passing score. Categories are scored via comprehensive documentation, accompanied by an on site audit. The scores fall into three tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum.
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) audits and certifies each building according to the standard. IWBI is a public benefit corporation and assumes the mission of improving the physical, mental and emotional well being of citizens in the built environment.
The WELL Building Standard embodies the future of built spaces. The design principles present in WELL is exactly what modern humanity needs because it seeks to address the various shortcomings of modern building design. Building on the growing acceptance and profile of LEED certification, WELL is a great addition to 21st century building design.
Learning to invest, design, and build WELL Standard buildings ensures the built environment will continue to improve and serve people best. WELL forges far ahead of regulations as WELL buildings ensure positive return on investment in the face of increasingly stringent building codes. As a plan towards embracing the future, WELL is the best hedge against future requirements.
It is not common for the future to demand attention, to give a distinct picture of what shall unfold. The uncertain future requires creative and groundbreaking designers, architects and builders. There is too great a need for revised and enhanced building practices and we all must join this movement toward a future that ensures the most productive employees, most healthy inhabitants, and the happiest customers inside our sustainably built buildings.
Delos envisions a future with the impact on human health as well as the environment producing many important, beautiful, and genuinely healthy built spaces. This type of future embodies precisely the kind of future western civilization desperately needs. This future need must be filled; our health depends on it. Our future health depends on our embrace of an inevitable future.
Author: Kevin Vanderheiden
Interested in learning more about the WELL Building Standard? Join us live this month for “10 Things You Should Know about LEED v4,” or view the course on demand! For more information, please visit: http://www.gbrionline.org/courses/10-building-standard/