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edition 5 (230)
May 2018
Green projects

Doing the job Well...

Interviewer Alex Hayes

Doing the job Well...
Paul Scialla, founder, the International Well Building Institute

How and why did you come to found the International Well Building Institute?

Paul Scialla, founder, the International Well Building Institute: With the success of the various green building councils worldwide, it was clear to us that similar infrastructure needed to be put in place to scale up the Well building movement and support the health and wellness of the people who live, work, and learn in our buildings and communities.

Dont more established certification schemes such as BREEAM and LEED cover the well-being of building users?

The green building concept primarily focuses on energy and environmental considerations, and only begins the conversation about people. Well Building advances that dialogue significantly, and works as a perfect complement to the foundations of the green building movement.

BREEAM and LEED have built up reputations as minimal standards for class A office buildings. How do you propose to market Well so that it becomes a badge of such repute? In what way do you regard your certification standard as complementary to these other standards?

Green building and Well building standards are very complementary. Well works seamlessly with all green building rating systems, while advancing the dialogue about human health and wellness in the built environment. Twenty-five years ago green building was barely an idea. Today it’s a global movement, and it’s hard to find a real estate contract that doesn’t specify green building certification as a cost of entry. The proven energy and water efficiency, waste and greenhouse gas reduction that underpin every certification have been widely accepted as best practice across the globe. Launched in late 2014, the Well Building Standard is the first building rating system exclusively focused on health and wellness, and we anticipate a similar trajectory for its adoption. Well works harmoniously with international leading green building systems such as LEED, BREEAM, Green Star and the Living Building Challenge, and will be expanding its alignments to include HQE in 2018. Companies that have used these green building certifications, all of which are an excellent foundation for Well, understand the process and appreciate the holistic approach that is replicable across every project. We encourage organisations to use them in order to promote both in order to positively impact the planet and its inhabitants.

The Well building standard has been on the market since October 2014. How many projects have been certified? Where in the world has there been the highest take-up?

Since the launch of the programme, we have seen over 750 projects in 32 countries register or become certified under the Well Building Standard. The adoption of Well is accelerating by the day and is now achieving exponential growth. In the US, almost 300 projects are engaged with Well and close to 40 are now certified. Elsewhere in the world we are seeing rapid expansion in China, Australia and throughout Europe. In Europe more than 150 projects across 13 countries are engaged with WELL – or 25 pct of the global area of Well projects – and projects are now being Well certified in France, the UK, Spain and Ireland. We have also experienced rapid new expansion in the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, with the other European countries now including Hungary, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Finland.

I understand that there had to be many years of research before establishing the Well standard. Can you tell me how the criteria were formulated?

Since its founding, IWBI has been focused on providing increased visibility into the impact buildings have on our health. We went through a rigorous process to vet the academic and medical research behind Well for over five years before the programme was launched. The criteria were informed by subject matter experts and included an extensive peer review process. Our methodology has been grounded in science, advanced through university collaborations, and informed by leading practitioners in both the public and private sectors.

To a certain extent the sustainability certification schemes of BREEAM and LEED are suffering from their own success in that current building technology is nowadays sufficient to obtain a rating of Very Good or Silver. How can you ensure that Well will remain ahead of the curve and continue to challenge the market?

The fact that green building practices are becoming standard across the board is a great thing and a testament to the success of all green rating programmes worldwide. Our vision is that one day in the future, Well Building will become normal practice as well. Currently we are engaging Well accredited professionals and members of the Well community in a series of worldwide roundtables that are focused on the future of Well. These working sessions offer a chance to discuss progress, obtain industry input and answer questions together about the first major update of the Well Building Standard.

Is there room on the market for more certification schemes such as yours?

Absolutely. We’ve made such progress in terms of building performance, it’s now time to focus on human performance and the contributions better buildings make towards helping humans thrive.

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