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What is WELL Certification, and Why Should Your Company Consider It?

By Elly McGuinness | Last updated: May 24, 2021
Key Takeaways

As a modern pioneer in the building design industry, this certification program is setting new standards that are more important than ever for the modern world.

Source: 4045/iStock

WELL certification has recently been gaining significant traction in the health and wellness space. As a modern pioneer in the building design industry, the certification program is setting new standards that are more important than ever for the modern world. Moving beyond aesthetics alone, health and wellbeing are the main focal points of this certification program.

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Many companies and organizations now truly recognize the importance of health and wellbeing. This is likely the main reason that WELL certification is surging forward as an innovative leader in this special segment of the building design industry.

What is WELL Certification?

The enormous global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people, companies, and industries on many levels. As part of this, many people want to feel confident about the health and safety standards of the buildings they use, whether it's a workplace, school, or any other indoor space. This is where WELL certification comes in.

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The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) recognized the need people feel for healthy, safe buildings, and created the WELL safety seal. It's a circular logo that is beginning to appear on more buildings to show that the building has been WELL health and safety rated.

The IWBI calls itself the "global authority on healthy buildings." With over 500,000 people in more than 100 countries participating in WELL programs, and over 17,000 WELL Accredited Professionals, the IWBI is a well-established global leader in this space.

Companies and organizations can apply for WELL certification. When they pass the certification and receive the "seal of approval," it shows that they have met certain health and safety-related building standards. These include air and water quality, cleaning and sanitization procedures, health services, and emergency preparation.

Why should your company consider WELL certification?

Enhanced feelings of safety

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One of the goals of the WELL certification seal is to help employees, customers, and the general public feel more confident and safe in their surroundings. The program has been designed to help everyone feel like they can enter a building and use the facilities knowing that health, wellness, and safety standards have been set and adhered to. This is likely one of the reasons the IWBI describe their WELL-certified buildings as "people first places."

Get back to business faster

The IWBI aims to help companies move forward during the pandemic and get back to business sooner. This can help businesses and owners to increase their resilience and bounce back faster should similar situations arise in the future, as they'll have a more robust framework to work from.

Improve health and safety knowledge

WELL certification helps to improve awareness around and knowledge of health and safety principles. When this knowledge is combined with the necessary skills and desire to create and sustain change, the benefits for improved health and safety can be far-reaching.

Increase health, happiness, and productivity

When health, safety, and employee wellness are at the forefront of a company, everyone benefits. Health and wellness initiatives such as WELL Certification have the potential to offer incredible benefits within a company or organization. These include improved employee health, and increased engagement and productivity.

A strong, research-backed foundation

The WELL certification program isn't based on guesswork. They offer a blueprint for success called the WELL Building Standard (WELL). With the latest research in mind, IWBI established a program that helps support both physical and mental health across several core concepts.

Applicable to any indoor space

The WELL concepts and standards can be applied to a single room, or across a large organization. This means that the health principles of any indoor space can be improved, whether big or small.

The 10 Core Concepts Behind WELL

Originally based on four core concepts, version two of the program has been further expanded to encompass a more holistic philosophy. There are currently 10 core concepts behind WELL, which are summarized as follows:

1. Improving indoor air quality to enhance human health. Air quality assessments and subsequent actions towards improving air quality are important considerations for any indoor space.

2. Aspects of water in a building, including availability and quality. An example of water quality standards includes control of contaminants that could negatively affect human health. Water is one of the key elements when it comes to a healthy office workspace.

3. An environment that offers nourishment by way of healthy food options such as fruits and vegetables. Nutrition is widely known to play an important role in physical health, and its association with mental health should also be understood and recognized.

4. Suitable lighting conditions that support mental, biological, and visual health. One of the goals here is to help support the body's natural circadian rhythm.

[Find out all about the importance of appropriate workplace lighting in "Lighting Ergonomics 101"].

5. An environment that supports opportunities for movement, and sufficient levels of physical activity.

[Find out how employers can help in this space in "Encouraging employees to achieve healthy eating and fitness goals in the workplace"].

6. Considerations around thermal comfort and the temperature of the space or building, in order to offer the best balance for meeting individual preferences, and enhancing productivity.

7. Improving perceived sound and noise levels within the building, as another effort to enhance human health and wellbeing.

8. Consideration of building materials that are used, and how these could impact human health. The goal here is to use building and furnishing materials that minimize exposure to chemicals or contaminants which may adversely affect human health.

9. The mind aspect of the WELL program offers strategies that aim to address the multi-faceted nature of mental health and emotional wellbeing.

[Employers can find out more about this topic in "How investing in mental health can make for a better workplace"].

10. Finally, the community section of WELL recognizes the diverse needs within any company or organization. The focus is on access to much-needed healthcare and developing a collective culture of wellness.

[Find out more in "14 ways to create a workplace culture of wellness"].

With such a high percentage of modern-day home and working life spent indoors, the WELL certification program should be considered as a pathway to help reduce the negative impact of this lifestyle on human health.

Take the next step by finding out how to become a WELL accredited professional (WELL AP), or by finding out more about WELL projects.

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Written by Elly McGuinness

Profile Picture of Elly McGuinness

Elly has been inspiring people to make sustainable changes to their health, fitness and lifestyle for the past 15 years. She offers online solutions for people who are looking to get started on, or improve their health and fitness. She blogs regularly, writes for a number of health and well-being publications and is the published author of a holistic weight loss book.

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