Oh great, another building standard. Oh great, another acronym.
Not so fast, my pessimistic friend.
WELL is a new building standard. But it is about you. Yes, even you. Unlike its structure focused predecessors - LEED and Green Globes, WELL is about people and health.
And what does it stand for? WELL. Just the word WELL. Like, “Hey, we want you to be WELL.”
But is it worth the investment? It seems rhetorical to ask if being WELL is worth the investment. “Our health is the most important thing we’ve got.” A common saying that is very apropos here.
Yes, our personal well being, our children’s wellbeing, our students, teachers, employees, staff, and caretaker's wellbeing is incredibly important. Why wouldn’t we want the structures that we create to embrace that principle?
Child playing at the Marbles Kid's Museum in Raleigh, NC. Ft. a DURAT countertop.
That is what the WELL standard does. It includes preconditions that must be met to achieve the basic level of compliance. Not complicated equations that you need to hire an analyst to compile, but rather proven implementations that are backed by data to show that they will, in fact, result in a more productive, healthier, pleasant environment. Studies at businesses, hospitals, and schools have all been compiled and analyzed to create this achievable standard, whose implementation will put your business at the forefront of the industry.
Oh sorry, you don’t want more productive employees? The payback is immediate and the implementation is achievable. Much of the costs are the certification and the diligence in confirming that companies are complying. But this is worth the investment because compliance ensures you will see results.
Unlike LEED or other standards, complying with the preconditions is the basic certification level. There is nothing additional that you have to do unless you are looking to achieve an even higher level of WELL certification: a REALLY efficient, really happy workplace.
What does WELL cost? It depends on the size of your building, or the size of the space you are trying to get certified, and the type of certification (similar to LEED, there are different “project types”). On average, for a building less than 50,000 square feet, you are looking at a registration fee between $1,500 and $2,500. Certification fees (the cost of hiring people to run performance tests, etc) are around $20,000. There is currently an early-adopter discount, offered to those among the first to pursue WELL, and the costs are significantly less.
But if you get 5% more productivity out of your employees, and that directly related to sales, and you were a $2M company, that would be another $100,000. Given your profitability, that could be a pretty good payback.
Kirei EchoSky ceiling panels in an office environment.
Where does the 5% productivity number come from? With WELL design you have designed your workplace to keep your employees more engaged, fitter, healthier and more comfortable. I don’t know how this would impact your workforce, but 5% seems like a lowball guess for the decreased absenteeism or increased productivity that you would realize as a result of this health-oriented design technique.
WELL - is it worth it?
If this was called FAIL or OUCH, I would understand the hesitation. But it literally is what it is. Design and Build for people. Not for a certificate, but for the most productive, pleasant workplace, where you can invest in your employees and they return the investment by loving the way they live in the place they work.
Orange DURAT desk at this Children's Hospital.
Hospitals should be jumping at the WELL standard. I want my kids to go to WELL schools.
I want focused, efficient, and healthy doctors and nurses. I want focused happy kids.
Is it worth it? Is health worth it? WELL, it is.