How to Create Healthier Buildings and Spaces
Sep 8, 2023
Joleen Gottwald, Senior Designer, WELL AP, RID

What is WELL?
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit corporation focused on deploying people-first places to advance a global culture of health. WELL applies the science of how physical and social environments affect human health, well-being and performance. WELL outlines the key building strategies across 10 categories. 

Why a Healthy Building?
A healthy building integrates its users’ well-being concerns into interior design, architecture, HVAC and lighting, and should have a positive impact on its users’ physical and mental health. 

WELL Categories:

  1. Air – The mechanical ventilation system uses outdoor air and internal CO2 sensors to remove toxins from the internal environment.  
  2. Thermal Comfort – One of the highest contributing factors to overall satisfaction in buildings and impacts individual levels of motivation, alertness, focus and mood. 
  3. Light – Studies show strong links between better daylight views, brighter light and improved performance in office environments. 
  4. Community – Workspaces that allow for many different working styles and helping improve collaboration. 
  5. Mind – Plants, nature and biophilic elements are incorporated into design, improving aesthetics, helping boost morale.
  6. Movement – Active design elements such as plazas and gardens encourage frequent pedestrian activity and active lifestyles. 
  7. Water – Water filters and testing to ensure water meets the World Health Organization thresholds. 
  8. Sound – White noise addresses background distraction. Quiet rooms, soundproof booths, etc. contribute to peaceful workspaces. 
  9. Materials – Interior finishes include low or no volatile organic compounds.
  10. Nourishment – An on-site café offers a variety of healthy food options with high nutritional value.

Design professionals can help your organization work toward a WELL Certified space or building, or help guide you in implementing the principles of WELL. 

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