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WELL gets an upgrade and becomes friendlier to existing buildings

DJSI
Mirvac's Olderfleet office tower at 477 Collins Street in Melbourne received Australia’s first core and shell pre-certification at the Platinum level.

Existing buildings will be just as capable of achieving a WELL rating as new builds under the recently released WELL Building Standard v2 pilot.

The new-look toolkit now has 10 concept areas, with the introduction of categories across materials, community, movement, thermal comfort and sound (and the removal of fitness and comfort).

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) said the preconditions projects must meet across the concept areas could now be achieved by all project types, whether new or existing spaces. It acknowledged that the first incarnation of the standard included design or performance criteria as preconditions that could be a challenge for an existing building to achieve unless it was undergoing a renovation.

“Since our launch in 2014, we’ve learned a lot from the thousands of WELL users, practitioners and researchers who have embraced WELL as a tool for making buildings mechanisms to deliver health and wellness benefits for all,” newly appointed IWBI president and former chief product officer Rachel Gutter said.

“WELL v2 is our effort to consolidate the latest knowledge, leading research, new technology and advanced building practice to extend the benefits of WELL buildings to more people in more places.”

The standard has consolidated multiple pilots into one tool, and increased the focus on existing buildings and commercial interiors.

The performance verification approach now allows projects to contract local providers, and pricing has been adjusted to address equity issues through introducing market- and sector-specific pricing. A subscription option has also been introduced.

Some of the specific indoor environment quality issues that have been in the spotlight for some time are now addressed more comprehensively or specifically.

For example, humidity control has become part of Thermal Comfort, rather than Air. Moisture management has also moved from Air to Water.

Within Water, Legionella Control has been updated to become a precondition, and there are also mandatory thresholds for cadmium and chromium in potable water. The thresholds for a number of other contaminants including styrene, benzene, toluene, atrazine and chlorine have also been adjusted.

The v1 Fitness category has been incorporated into Movement, which also includes ergonomics, formerly part of v1’s Comfort.

Movement also includes a new Active Buildings and Communities precondition that allows projects to select from a range of strategies including promoting movement, physical activity or active living to achieve the mandatory point.

In the new Materials category, toxins are in the spotlight, with preconditions around asbestos, lead, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) restriction and abatement. These were formerly part of v1s Air category.

A new mandatory requirement has also been introduced in Materials that means projects must mitigate environmental contamination caused by treated outdoor structures and wood-plastic composites.

IWBI chief executive and chair Rick Fedrizzi said the new rating system was “simpler, clearer, focused on the aspects that have the greatest impact, and designed for improved return across every metric”.

“I’m especially excited about the significant cost efficiencies that have been built in, which will help spur uptake and increase accessibility to WELL for more market sectors,” he said.

“With these changes, WELL v2 sharpens our ability to drive far-reaching change to buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive.”

  • WELL V2 can be accessed here

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