The Release of WELL v2 Sustainable Investment Group

The Release of WELL v2

October 5, 2020

By Libby Dunne
Sustainability Consultant
LEED Green Associate, Fitwel Ambassador
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

WELL v2 | Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

WELL v2 has graduated! On September 24th, 2020, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) announced the release of WELL version 2. WELL v2 had been tested as a pilot version since May 2018. With some changes to the scoring structure, feature requirements, and updates to the digital platform, WELL v2 was released publicly for projects to enroll in. But what differences are there between WELL v2 and WELL v2 Pilot? And how will that impact a project’s ability to earn a WELL certification? This article will explore some of these changes and provides a comprehensive overview of the new WELL version 2.

Format Changes

WELL v2 pilot was developed in connection to the following principles: equitable, global, evidence-based, technically robust, customer-focused, and resilient. WELL v2 expands on these principles by ensuring that each feature is evidence-based, verifiable, implementable, and presented for outside input throughout development. The first major change implemented in WELL v2 is the addition of a WELL Bronze certification level for all project types. This change helps to increase equitable access to WELL by providing a lower point option for WELL Certification, which was previously only offered under WELL Core. Additionally, for each level of certification, there is a different requirement for how many points are required to be achieved in each concept. However, WELL Core Certification does not have such a requirement. The new scoring system is as follows:

Points achieved WELL Certification WELL Core Certification
Minimum points per concept Level of Certification Minimum points per concept Level of Certification
40 0 WELL Bronze 0 WELL Core Bronze
50 1 WELL Silver 0 WELL Core Silver
60 2 WELL Gold 0 WELL Core Gold
80 3 WELL Platinum 0 WELL Core Platinum

Further changes to the scoring system can be found within the concepts themselves. The WELL v2 developers worked to streamline the WELL Standard by eliminating or combining certain features. The goal of this change was to eliminate some of the redundancy that could be found across the concepts in WELL v2 Pilot. Additionally, the point values assigned to each part that make up a feature, now add up to the total points possible for that feature. Previously, the parts in WELL v2 Pilot were allocated based on health benefit, with no consideration for them adding up to the maximum point total of that feature. This created problems for many project teams as it meant that only certain parts within a feature were able to be pursued in conjunction with other parts. In WELL v2, this complexity has been eliminated. Point values are still allocated based on the strength of the benefit they provide, but consideration has also been made to them adding up correctly overall.

Concept Updates

  1. Air: The air section has updates to the VOC thresholds required for A01: Air Quality and A05: Enhanced Air Quality. Additionally, there are now two options to receive the point for A13: Enhanced Air Supply, one rewarding projects for using 100% outdoor air, and the other that rewards projects for using carbon filters if any air is recirculated within the building.
  2. Water: Within the water section, the drinking water precondition, W02: Drinking Water Quality, is significantly streamlined to focus on the most important water quality parameters. Additionally, W03: Basic Water Management replaces a pilot precondition, and covers water quality monitoring. Replacing a feature aimed solely at handwashing, W08: Hygiene Support also focuses on providing adequate bathroom accommodations, in addition to supporting hand hygiene best practices.
  3. Nourishment: One of the main changes to this section is clarification about dining spaces and the role that these features can play in different food-related space types. Additionally, the precondition N02: Nutritional Transparency, which previously covered allergen labeling, expands to include allergen signage and training on allergens for all food service staff.
  4. Light: WELL v2 provides additional optionality in meeting both preconditions in this concept, L01: Light Exposure and L02: Visual Lighting Design. These additional pathways help to provide project teams with multiple ways of meeting these preconditions, while still requiring adequate lighting in building spaces.
  5. Movement: One change in this section can be seen in Feature V04: Facilities for Active Occupants, which rewards points for being in close proximity to a bicycle network, in addition to the bike parking requirements from WELL v2 Pilot. Additionally, V06: Physical Activity Opportunities takes on a tiered points approach, rewarding projects for increased duration and frequency of programming.
  6. Thermal Comfort: The additional flexibility of WELL v2 can also been seen in the thermal comfort concept, specifically within T01: Thermal Performance and T07: Humidity Control.
  7. Sound: The precondition for this section, S01: Sound Mapping, has updated requirements which incorporate enhanced planning of acoustic movement. Additionally, a new feature in this concept, S04: Reverberation Time, focuses on measuring acoustic performance through one of two pathways: design based, or performance based.
  8. Materials: This section is the most transformed between WELL v2 and WELL v2 pilot. Three features were eliminated, reinforcing the true goal of this concept within the remaining features. Additionally, many features now require specification sheets from the product manufacturer to be uploaded as documentation. Instead of referring to only US-based codes, this section also expanded to include globally applicable references and standards.
  9. Mind: The mind concept was restructured to have an increased focus on mental health. Additionally, services and education requirements in this concept have expanded to include both in-person and virtual opportunities. Feature M09: Enhanced Access to Nature provides opportunities for projects to earn points for access to nature in both outdoor and indoor spaces throughout the project.
  10. Community: WELL v2 developers added a precondition within the community concept: C03 Emergency Preparedness. The goal of this precondition is to ensure that organizations are better prepared to respond to emergency situations if and when they occur. This feature requires that projects complete a risk assessment and create an emergency plan for a wide variety of natural, technological, human-caused, and health related emergencies. Feature C06: Health Services and Benefits rewards projects for offering infectious disease testing within a health benefits plan, and for having a policy providing occupants with sick leave.

Updated Online Resources

In addition to changes to the scoring and feature requirements for WELL v2, several changes have been made to IWBI’s online WELL resources: the WELL overview page and the WELL digital platform. The WELL overview page provides a comprehensive view of the concepts, the features within them, and the requirements and documentation types required for each feature. The WELL digital platform is the home-base for WELL project management. Here, teams can track points they are pursuing, track their progress towards certification, and upload documentation.

One exciting addition to the WELL overview page is the “units’ toggle”. This units’ toggle can be found at the top of the page and allows the viewer to manually change unit values between metric and imperial. Additionally, it automatically selects one or the other based on the viewer’s location. The new “WELL Core toggle” can be found on the top of each feature and replaces the WELL Core appendix that had previously been found at the bottom of each page. The goal of these toggles is to make this webpage more user friendly and more tailored to the user’s preferences.

Additionally, each feature page on the WELL overview website now has a new tab: verification. This tab compiles a list of all the documentation needed for that feature and any special requirements. It also provides specific information on the performance verification required for that feature, if applicable. This information includes both required thresholds, and required equipment needed for that feature’s performance verification.

Important and user-friendly changes have also been made to the WELL digital platform, formerly WELL Online. Upon creation of a project, the team decides to pursue either WELL Certification or WELL Core Certification. Based on their selection, either a WELL Certification scorecard or WELL Core Certification scorecard is created for their project. These two programs have slightly different point allocations, and have different requirements based on if a space is considered to be owner-controlled or tenant-controlled. Both of these new WELL v2 scorecards have updated components in addition to the tools offered within the WELL v2 Pilot scorecards. Instead of being sorted by feature, the scorecard is arranged by feature part. This allows project teams to see the various feature parts at first glance, instead of needing to open each feature to see them. Additionally, each part can be marked as “yes”, “maybe”, or “no” based on if the project team has decided to pursue that particular feature or feature part. The scorecard can also be filtered by either a yes, maybe, or no response or filtered by the verification method required for each part. Additionally, the new scorecards provide a concept score breakdown for project teams to easily track their progress, as well as an anticipated score and certification level based on the number of features selected as “yes”.

Updated Pricing

Finally, modifications have been made to the pricing structure for WELL v2 projects. There is a flat enrollment fee of $2,500 per project. From there, certification is $0.16 per square foot for WELL Certification and $0.08 per square foot for WELL Core Certification. However, a minimum certification fee of $6,500 and a maximum of $98,000 helps to provide equitable access to WELL despite building size. Not only is the pricing structure for WELL v2 simpler as compared to WELL v2 Pilot, the example below shows that it results in lower overall certification fees for projects of various sizes.

20,000 square feet 500,000 square feet
WELL v2 WELL v2 Pilot WELL v2 WELL v2 Pilot
Registration Fee $2,500 $1,800 $2,500 $5,500
Certification Fee $6,500 $20,000 $80,000 $255,000
Total $9,000 $21,800 $82,500 $260,500

Going along with their founding principle of equity, WELL has provided a 35% discount for emerging markets and certain sectors. For WELL v2 Pilot projects, this list included: low-income/affordable housing, non-profit/charitable organizations, schools and education facilities, government/municipal buildings, and emerging markets. The pricing changes to WELL v2 expanded upon this list to also include small businesses and senior/assisted living facilities. For WELL v2, there is also a “calculate my price” tool that can easily calculate the price of certification for a project based on square footage and eligibility for discounts.

WELL v2 brings about lots of changes to the WELL Certification program. It serves as a premier healthy-building certification and remains grounded in IWBI’s original founding principles. WELL v2 is currently open for project enrollment concurrently with WELL v2 Pilot and WELL v1. However, starting January 2021, new projects are only eligible to enroll in WELL v2. Sustainable Investment Group has 4 knowledgeable WELL APs on staff who are happy to walk you through these updates, as well as discuss options for WELL project enrollment. Please contact us with any inquiries at 404-343-3835 or e-mail Michael Friedman at michaelf@sigearth.com.

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