Building WELL through performance verification

Megan Sparks

Over the last six years, I have witnessed the transition taking place in the green building movement and here at GBCI. We are expanding beyond just buildings to focus on the people in buildings, incorporating the concepts of health and wellness into our plans for the built environment. My experience at GBCI has taught me that we can get there. We can ensure that health and wellness in our buildings is accessible for all. 

Leading the way in wellness

Last year, GBCI and the International WELL Building Institute partnered to launch the WELL Building Standard on a global scale, with impressive results: WELL is leading the market through its efforts to define and measure the impacts of health in the built environment. The ultimate performance evaluation of a WELL building is the observed changes in the long-term health, happiness and productivity of the people in a building.

These indicators are difficult to define and measure, and many can only be evaluated on a long-term scale, but the benefits they produce to a company’s triple bottom line are numerous. With rapid global adoption of project registrations, certifications and commitments over the course of only a year, we are already well on our way. Leaders across the globe are committing to WELL and proving that health and wellness in our buildings are not only possible, but achievable. 

The importance of measuring performance

To me, the most critical component of the WELL Building Standard is Performance Verification. WELL approaches the validation of wellness design strategies in a building through both Documentation Review and Performance Verification. Performance Verification entails a site visit in which a WELL Assessor visits a completed project and executes a series of performance tests and visual inspections. As a WELL Assessor at GBCI, I have been able to not only verify that the required design and operational elements are in place at the projects I visit, but also that their performance meets the WELL Building Standard requirements. 

Through my work as a WELL Assessor, I have witnessed how the design strategies prescribed by WELL have affected building performance and provided benefits. For instance, WELL requires the measured total volatile organic compound (TVOC) concentration in the air to be less than 500 μg/m³, since exposure to VOCs has been documented to cause neurobehavioral problems and to be linked to sick building syndrome.

WELL also requires a lighting design that addresses the biological effects of light on the human body and circadian rhythm, which is evaluated through lighting measurements taken in the project. These are just two of many key performance indicators evaluated through performance testing on a WELL project that have been proven by the scientific community to impact health and wellness.

Learn more about assessment and verification

  • After a year and a half of research and development, I am extremely excited to announce the publication of the WELL Performance Verification Guidebook. Not just a resource that lists the key performance indicators measured in WELL, this guidebook can be used to understand the overall structure of how a WELL Assessor evaluates a project on-site. 
  • As we continue to build capacity for WELL across the globe, GBCI is placing a heavy emphasis on technical rigor and quality. With this in mind, GBCI is also accepting expressions of interest from organizations qualified to execute WELL Assessor or WELL Performance testing services. If you are interested in becoming a WELL Assessor or providing WELL Performance Testing services, please complete this form. All responses to this form must be received by March 31, 2016. 

We look forward to your building’s success with WELL Performance Verification—and to providing the people in your building with long-term health, happiness and productivity.

Learn more about WELL

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