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WELLopedia v2: Materials Concept & Innovation

WELLopedia v2: Materials Concept & Innovation

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The WELL Building Standard stands at the forefront of a global movement that aims to reshape our built environments with a focus on human health and overall well-being. As we rapidly urbanize and modernize, the spaces we live and work in play a significant role in influencing our health, mood, and productivity. This module takes you on an insightful journey into the very heart of the Materials concepts and the significance of the Innovation concept.

Understanding the materials, we use in constructing and designing buildings goes far beyond their visual appeal or structural integrity. Every material has a story, and in this module, we delve deep into its narrative. Learn about the intricate web of chemicals and compounds, their interactions, and the subsequent impact on human health throughout a building’s lifecycle.

From source to disposal, every phase of a material’s life presents both opportunities and challenges. By delving into the science, best practices, and innovative solutions surrounding materials, this course equips participants with the knowledge to make informed decisions in design, construction, and maintenance. As architects, designers, and builders, the choices we make can either perpetuate a cycle of environmental degradation and health risks, or they can foster resilience, health, and sustainability.

Moreover, the Materials Concept Module is a proud part of GBRI’s WELLopedia Series, offering a panoramic view of the WELL Building Standard v2. Whether you’re looking for an in-depth understanding of a specific concept or aiming to broaden your perspective across the spectrum of the WELL Building Standard, this course caters to both. Enroll as a stand-alone endeavor or immerse yourself in the entire series, depending on your learning aspirations and credential maintenance needs.With the escalating global awareness of the intrinsic bond between the built environment and human health, it’s imperative to champion innovative solutions for sustainable and health-centric habitats. Our exploration of the Innovation segment will enlighten you with cutting-edge methods and strategies, sparking inspiration for cultivating healthier living and working spaces.Dive deep into the acclaimed WELL Building Standard, a forefront framework emphasizing human health and well-being in the phases of building design, construction, and operation.

This course is an integral part of GBRI’s WELLopedia Series, shedding light on the intricacies of the WELL Building Standard v2. Whether you’re pursuing standalone insights or integrating this as part of the broader series for credential maintenance, this course is tailored to meet your needs.Join us, as we unravel the world of materials and innovation and together, let’s pave the way for healthier, more sustainable living spaces for generations to come.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of the Materials and Innovation Concept Module, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the importance of materials in the WELL Building Standard, especially their effects on health and the environment.
  2. Recognize the challenges posed by chemicals like lead, asbestos, mercury, CCA, and PCBs in construction.
  3. Learn measures to minimize or eliminate exposure to harmful building materials.
  4. Prioritize sustainable material selection, avoiding toxic and persistent substances.
  5. Apply best practices in material selection and use, aligned with the WELL Building Standard.
  6. Grasp the foundational principles and relevance of innovation within the WELL Building Standard framework.
  7. Investigate multifaceted health interventions and their pivotal roles in sculpting health-centric built environments.
  8. Discern the congruencies and variances between the WELL Building Standard and the LEED rating system.
  9. Immerse in the key principles and methodologies for designing spaces that balance environmental sustainability with human well-being.
  10. Acknowledge the vitality of ongoing education and active participation, spotlighting building tours, WELL Certified spaces, and the integral role of WELL APs during certification.
  11. Empower learners with the expertise and resources to adeptly maneuver through the WELL Scorecard, ensuring a thorough comprehension of the WELL certification trajectory and its gradations.


Innovation Concept, WELL Building Standard, Architectural Advancement, Health-centric Strategies, Feature I01: Innovate WELL, IWBI, Health and Well-being, Built Environments, WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP), Experience WELL Certification, Gateway to Wellness, Green Building Rating Systems, Sustainability, Building Design and Operations, Architectural Paradigms, WELL v2 Features, WELL Certification Process, Environmental Sustainability, Building Occupants and Visitors, Building Tours, Architectural Design and Health, Wellness Programs, Physical Project Space, Project Planning and Achievement, Third-party Wellness Programs. Materials concept, Human health, Environmental sustainability, Hazardous building materials, Sustainable practices, Material selection, Toxic substances, Bioaccumulation, Legacy chemicals, Asbestos, Mercury, Lead, CCA (Chromate Copper Arsenate), PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), Indoor air quality, Material Restrictions, Material Transparency, Material Optimization, VOC Restrictions, Site Remediation, Waste Management, Pest Management, Pesticide Use, Cleaning Protocols, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), WELL feature, WELL Certification, Building materials, Health impacts, Air concept, GBRI’s WELLopedia Series, Pathogens, Contact Reduction, Contaminated surfaces, Respiratory particles.


WELLopedia v2 Materials Concept & Innovation (2)

Abstract on Materials Concept

Whether its construction, renovation, pest management or cleaning supplies – chemicals play a huge role. The chemicals industry is an integral to a number of sectors including the construction industry and has played a major role in improving our quality of life. However, within the construction industry  - many of the chemicals that were ubiquitously used in the past have been found to be typically toxic, persistent and prone to bioaccumulation.

Legacy chemicals, a denomination that includes lead, asbestos, mercury, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are now largely restricted in manufacture and use. However, they continue to pose dangers not only in older structures but also through their environmental fate. Lead exposure accounted for an estimate of one million deaths in 2017 and can be considered as a global health priority, even in places where it is regulated.

Another example of a legacy contaminant is CCA, a biocide formerly used in outdoor wood structures that can leach arsenic and preservative components into the soil, where children can be exposed.

The WELL Materials concept aims to reduce human exposure, whether direct or through environmental contamination, to chemicals that may impact health during the construction, remodeling, furnishing and operation of buildings. The WELL Materials concept requires projects to assess the presence of these compounds and take measures to prevent human exposure along with restricting them in new products. In addition, testing, remediation and redevelopment of sites contaminated with these and many other toxic pollutants is encouraged, in order to support environmentally responsible growth and preventing sprawl.

Under this concept – there are a total of 11 features out of which 3 are preconditions – meaning they are mandatory for certification and 8 are optimizations or optional. There is a beta feature under this concept which we will discuss later.

Preconditions (3)
  1. Material Restrictions
  1. Interior Hazardous Materials Management
  1. CCA and Lead Management


Optimization (8)
  1. Site Remediation
  1. Enhanced Material Restrictions
  1. VOC Restrictions
  1. Materials Transparency
  1. Materials Optimization
  1. Waste Management
  1. Pest Management and Pesticide Use
  1. Cleaning Products and Protocols



  1. Material Restrictions: This precondition defines boundaries for specific construction materials, notably hazardous ones like asbestos, mercury, and lead, which historically have had severe health impacts. Its goal is to curtail human exposure to such perilous building materials.
  2. Interior Hazardous Materials Management: This refers to managing the risks associated with materials commonly used in past constructions. The word "ubiquitous" means present everywhere. On a lighter note, enhancing vocabulary can be fun, as seen in games like the New York Times' Wordle. The key takeaway? This feature demands practices that manage risks from hazardous materials including asbestos, lead, and PCBs.
  3. CCA and Lead Management: CCA, Chromate Copper Arsenate, previously used in wood treatment, has been linked to health risks such as arsenic exposure. This precondition aims to lessen human exposure risks to CCA and lead, especially in external paints and soils.
  4. Site Remediation: As an initial optimization in the Materials concept, site remediation focuses on addressing contamination in potential brownfields. If familiar with LEED, it too emphasizes brownfield remediation. This feature mandates a thorough site assessment and remediation for any contamination.
  5. Enhanced Material Restrictions: An extension of the previous precondition, this optimization highlights chemicals introduced for performance or cost benefits, yet may be harmful. Specific chemical classes to note include orthophthalates, HFR, PFCs, heavy metals, and formaldehyde. This feature stresses the need to limit such chemicals in building products.
  6. VOC Restrictions: Building upon the Air concept, VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds can pose varied health risks. This optimization seeks to uphold emission thresholds for materials inside buildings, ensuring indoor air quality remains uncompromised.
  7. Materials Transparency: Taking a cue from nutritional transparency in food, this feature underlines the importance of clear information about building material ingredients. It mandates comprehensive product descriptions through trusted transparency programs.
  8. Materials Optimization: Projects are encouraged to screen and label products according to programs that assess and limit hazardous ingredients, ensuring both human and environmental health aren't compromised.
  9. Waste Management: Also found in systems like LEED, this feature emphasizes the prudent management and reduction of hazardous waste. The goal is to limit environmental contamination and minimize exposure to harmful substances.
  10. Pest Management and Pesticide Use: Pest presence has multiple adverse effects. This feature promotes an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, emphasizing non-toxic control measures and judicious pesticide use.
  11. Cleaning Products and Protocols: Cleaning is crucial for maintaining healthy indoor spaces. This feature underscores the selection of less harmful cleaning products and establishes systematic cleaning protocols, including staff training.
  12. Beta Feature: Contact Reduction: Relevant in the post-pandemic era, it focuses on mitigating the spread of viruses and pathogens through respiratory emissions. The objective is to devise strategies reducing human contact with potentially contaminated particles and surfaces.

Abstract on Innovation Concept

In today's fast-paced world of architectural advancement, the role of innovation stands out as not just significant but indispensable. The WELL Building Standard, a cornerstone in architectural paradigms, acknowledges this through its Innovation concept, highlighting the essence of pioneering health-centric strategies in our built environments. These strategies, while new, bridge the gaps not currently addressed by other WELL features.

At the core of the WELL Building Standard is an emphasis on the nexus between human health, well-being, and the spaces we inhabit. The Innovation concept within the Standard provides avenues for projects to present and implement unique health-driven strategies, with Feature I01: Innovate WELL serving as a guiding beacon. This feature delineates the criteria for these novel proposals, ensuring they stand out and have measurable impacts. Beyond this individual feature, IWBI has pre-approved other innovative strategies, providing projects the opportunity to achieve up to 10 distinct points in this domain.

Expounding on the Innovation concept, five optional optimizations emerge:

Optimization (4)
  1. Innovate WELL
  1. WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP)
  1. Experience WELL Certification
  1. Gateway to Wellness
  1. Green Building Rating Systems


  1. Innovate WELL: As our understanding of health sciences deepens, we are continually met with opportunities to innovate. With the WELL Innovation features, projects are challenged and encouraged to adopt new methodologies that not just meet but exceed the WELL v2 features. The intent is clear: To ensure the WELL Building Standard remains at the forefront, constantly evolving, and promoting health and well-being in fresh, impactful ways.
  2. WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP): Earning the WELL AP credential is no mere token; it symbolizes deep knowledge, dedication, and a commitment to the intersection of design and well-being. Integrating a WELL AP into a project signifies a streamlined approach to the certification process, reflecting efficiency, expertise, and a deep understanding of the WELL criteria.
  3. Experience WELL Certification: Elevating awareness about health and well-being in our built spaces stands central to the WELL mission. This isn’t a mere theoretical exercise; tangible experiences, like tours showcasing WELL features and in-depth educational strategies, serve to enlighten building occupants and visitors about the profound influence of architecture on health.
  4. Gateway to Wellness: Every project has its genesis, whether from top-tier executive commitments or grassroots movements. Recognizing these diverse journeys is essential, and with this optimization, projects that engage in third-party wellness programs are commended. These programs, acting as initial steps, often lead to more profound commitments to well-being.
  5. Green Building Rating Systems: In the intricate ballet of architecture, green building standards and human health are intertwined partners. By aligning with leading green building standards, WELL projects demonstrate a dual commitment: to our planet's sustainability and the well-being of its inhabitants. Here, environments are crafted not just to reduce ecological footprints but to actively promote health, from clean air and water to green spaces that encourage social connections.

In conclusion, the Innovation concept in the WELL Building Standard signifies more than just a set of features or optimizations. It embodies a vision for the future, where architectural designs are symbiotic with health and environmental considerations, crafting a world where structures sustain and nourish life in all its forms.





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