Transforming Health & Well-Being in the Built Environment
Where you might recognize LEED as the global standard for highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings - the WELL Building Standard (WELL) focuses on the health and wellness of the people inside the building. Over the past decade, green building standards have made significant strides towards improving indoor environmental quality and reducing pollution, and millions of people are living, learning and working in LEED-certified buildings around the world. Over the same period, strategies to enhance human health and well-being have played a relatively small role in the evolution of building standards.
We believe that the time has come to elevate human health and comfort to the forefront of building practices and reinvent buildings that are not only better for the planet, but also for people.
We know that the spaces around us can make everyone healthier, happier and more productive.
Pollutants can be 5X higher indoors than outdoors.
Exposure to indoor air pollutants can lead to a variety of health and well-being outcomes from headaches, eye irritation or runny nose to more severe health issues such as childhood asthma, carbon monoxide poisoning, cancer and other respiratory disorders. Indoor air quality can be degraded significantly by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that off-gas from paints, finishes and other coatings, and also result from the use of cleaning products, air fresheners, personal care products, and other materials. The WELL Air Concept seeks to implement holistic design strategies to promote clean air and minimize human exposure to harmful contaminants, in order to maximize benefits to productivity, well-being and health.
Do you know what you're drinking?
Drinking water contamination is a major public health issue. Many people receive water that has been exposed to potentially harmful levels of biological, chemical and mineral contaminants. Exposure to minute amounts of certain metals in drinking water has been associated with a range of negative health issues, including developmental delays and deficits in learning abilities of children as well as high blood pressure, kidney problems and reproductive difficulties in adults. The WELL Water Concept covers aspects of the quality, distribution and control of liquid water in a building. It includes features that address the availability and contaminant thresholds of drinking water, as well as features targeting the management of water to avoid damage to building materials and environmental conditions.
Ready for the best sleep of your life?
In addition to facilitating vision, light influences the human body in non-visual ways. Humans and animals are continuously sensitive to light and have internal clocks that synchronize physiological functions on roughly a 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm. The Institute of Medicine reports that about 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a chronic sleep or wakefulness disorder. To maintain optimal, synchronized circadian rhythms, the body requires periods of both brightness and darkness. The WELL Light Concept promotes exposure to light and aims to create lighting environments that promote visual, mental and biological health.
Find your acoustical comfort.
In recent years it has been determined that exposure to exterior noise sources, such as traffic and transportation have been linked to sleep disturbance, hypertension and the reduction of mental arithmetic skills in school-aged children. At the same time, sound within an enclosed space from sources, such as HVAC equipment, appliances and other occupants has been shown to hinder productivity, focus, and memory retention. The WELL Sound Concept aims to bolster occupant health and well-being through the identification and mitigation of acoustical comfort parameters that shape occupant experiences in the built environment.
Mental health through design.
It is increasingly recognized that a complex relationship exists between the mind and the body and that this interplay can significantly impact health and well-being. For instance, exercise increases the release of serotonin, which can elevate mood and regulate the sleep cycle. Design strategies, such as increasing nature contact within built spaces, has been linked with numerous health promoting benefits, including decreased levels of depression and anxiety, increased attentional capacity, better recovery from job stress and illness, and increased psychological well-being. The WELL Mind Concept promotes mental health through policy, program and design strategies that seek to address the diverse factors that influence cognitive and emotional well-being.
“I’m thrilled to participate and collaborate on the WELL Homes Advisory, working alongside experts and leaders from around the world. Together, we’ll work to identify and scale equitable strategies that address health and safety in homes, the spaces we spend most of our time.”
- Ross Milroy