Blog

Published on: 07 February 2024

Updated on: 07 February 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

Claire Stant

Creative Director

Workplace design has a profound impact on health and wellbeing.

WELL Certification, administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), is a program focused exclusively on advancing human health through the built environment. Backed by medical research, WELL Certification sets a clear roadmap of evidence-based strategies across ten concepts from indoor air quality to nourishment.

This article explains what WELL Certification entails, the rigorous performance standards projects must meet, and how it uplifts occupant health as well as sustainability efforts.

1390 Arcadis 065

What is the WELL building standard?

WELL Building Standard is a certification system measuring over 100 attributes that impact human health, wellbeing and quality of life indoors. Developed by Delos over ten years of research, WELL sets pathways organisations can take to create spaces that enhance comfort, performance and wellness for occupants.

Unlike other green building certifications focused on environmental sustainability, WELL puts holistic health at the centre of office interior design and operations using medical evidence. It goes beyond minimum code compliance to implement indoor conditions that actively contribute to productivity, support cognitive function and ease stress.

WELL certified buildings integrate best practices across ten concepts:

  • Air - ventilation effectiveness, indoor pollutants
  • Water - safety, accessibility
  • Nourishment - food quality, promotion of healthy eating
  • Light - visual acuity, circadian health
  • Movement - physical activity spaces and policies
  • Thermal Comfort - humidity control, adaptability
  • Sound - noise isolation, masking speech privacy
  • Materials - toxic chemical reduction, transparency
  • Mind - health benefits access, biophilia
  • Community - emergency preparedness, vulnerable population support

What are the benefits of WELL certification?

WELL certification demonstrates that a workplace makes occupant health a key priority through building design, operations and policies. It assures employees and visitors that rigorous standards backed by science are met to support individual wellbeing.

Specifically, WELL certification provides benefits like:

  • Recruitment and retention perks by signalling a commitment to health and satisfaction
  • Boosting work performance through better air, lighting, nourishment and acoustics
  • Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism with healthier spaces that uplift mood
  • Market differentiation and prestige for sustainability efforts
  • Ensuring resilience against viruses through air quality and filtration
  • Monitoring metrics over time with recertification every three years

Certified workplaces report increased tenant satisfaction and productivity. WELL also helps showcase sustainability commitments to stakeholders with third party verification.

We know firsthand how space impacts employee experience, satisfaction and effectiveness. WELL certified offices communicate to tenants and staff that wellbeing is a priority through research-backed design choices. The positive ripples this creates for recruitment, presenteeism and conveying our commitment to health makes pursuing WELL certifications for client projects a seamless value add.

Claire Stant

Creative Director

What are the WELL certification levels?


WELL Certification is awarded at four progressive levels reflecting the number of health and wellness optimisations successfully implemented, verified by onsite performance testing.

WELL Bronze Certification: 40 points

WELL Silver Certification: 50 points

WELL Gold Certification: 60 points

WELL Platinum Certification: 80 points

Projects start by meeting all preconditions for quality assurance across concepts like air and water safety. They then implement optional features across categories weighing 2-12 points each based on health impact and scope, totaling 100 points.

An additional 10 innovation points are also available.

What is the WELL certification process?

The WELL digital platform guides projects in developing a unique scorecard with recommended features based on parameters like space types, location, and budget.

Throughout design and build, project teams submit documentation to demonstrate compliance with requirements. A WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) advisor can provide guidance on certification pathways.

Before certification, a WELL Performance Testing Agent validates implementation by spending 1-3 days on-site conducting spot checks, measurements and lab tests across concepts. This third-party verification step is unique among building certifications.

WELL certified spaces must undergo recertification every three years to maintain their rating and continue monitoring environment quality.

Fitwel vs WELL Certification

While Fitwel also rates health promotion through workplace design, WELL takes a more rigorous approach backed by medical literature. WELL has over 100 standards, requires onsite testing, recertifies every three years and offers tiered rating levels.

Fitwel is cheaper, faster and simpler to implement for modest health goals. But WELL drives more transformational policies and spaces optimised for wellness metrics like reduced viral transmission and ergonomics.

Choosing between Fitwel and WELL depends on factors like strategic priorities, location type and the extent of investments an organisation can make to uplift occupant health as a differentiator.

WELL sets the gold standard for data-driven spaces and feedback loops that elevate human health to the forefront of decisions.

WELL Certification in practice

Achieving WELL Certification’s highest standards may not suit every project focused on human-centric design. That’s why Office Principles have developed our own hybrid set of principles, blending the most impactful principles from WELL, Fitwell, BREEAM and SKA into cost-effective best practices.

When designing Arcadis’ new UK headquarters, we worked collaboratively to achieve WELL Certification meeting both employee wellness goals and their budget. This process realised essential design upgrades and programs benefiting staff health while optimising efficiency to attain recognition on their HQ transformation journey.

Conclusion

Increasingly, organisations recognise that offices designed with wellness principles directly impact effectiveness. WELL provides a rigorous framework and third-party verification for consciously creating spaces that empower employees.

Whether targeting an individual building or applying company-wide, WELL certification ushers in uplifting policies, materials selection process improvements and indoor environment upgrades that put people first.


Office Principles delivers specialised office fit out services embracing the most progressive standards. Reach out today to evaluate certification options suitable for your next office refurbishment or office relocation project.

Meet the Author

Claire Stant

Creative Director

Claire has a wealth of experience creating much celebrated workplace destinations + interior stories for market leading brands. With a focus on blurring the line between workplace, hospitality + retail, Claire’s drive is to create happy + healthy work-life experiences that truly improve her clients’ wellbeing, productivity + culture. Claire’s interpretation of the brand, personality + aspirations of her clients is second to none.

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