Design and Construction, Emergency Preparedness, Energy Management and Lighting, Maintenance and Operations, Safety, Sustainability/Business Continuity

How to Improve Facility Health Through WELL

COVID-19 brought wellness to the forefront of everyone’s minds, and as infection numbers are yet again going up, many facilities managers are looking for ways to make their facilities healthier by becoming WELL-certified through the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

Angela Spangler, senior director of global market development for IWBI, was the speaker for the Aug. 14 Facilities Management Advisor Healthy Buildings Week 2023 educational session titled “The Evolution of WELL: How to Leverage the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facilities Operations and Management.”

What Are IWBI and WELL?

According to Spangler, the IWBI is the “global authority for transforming health and well-being in buildings, organizations, and communities.” It recognizes facilities that meet evidence-based WELL objectives to make their facilities healthier through a WELL certification program.

By meeting those objectives, she explained that this will improve occupants’ physical, mental, and social well-being. Over 40,000 locations, consisting of almost 5 billion square feet, participate in the WELL program.

What Are WELL Objectives?

Spangler explained that WELL is “essentially a collection of strategies that will help you to target all sorts of different goals. Whether you’re looking to mitigate burnout, create a healthier return on investment, get people back to offices, or any facility type, with confidence, whether you’re looking to really promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, or attract and retain top talent, we have a series of solutions that will help guide the way.”

Facilities managers and organizational management can meet these objectives by concentrating on WELL concept areas.

10 WELL Concept Areas

Spangler noted there are 10 concept areas, based on scientific research of over 7,000 peer-reviewed studies and citations, that can help improve the health of facility occupants:

  1. Air. Ambient air quality and ways to reduce traffic pollution and exposure to pollution.
  2. Water. Drinking water quality, strategies for managing contaminated water, and promoting drinking water access.
  3. Nourishment. Access to fruits and vegetables, food safety, nutritional education, and strategies to support breastfeeding.
  4. Light. Proper levels of lighting for roads and walkways, as well as limiting light pollution and glare.
  5. Movement. Strategies to reduce transportation-related injuries while increasing cyclist infrastructure and walkability.
  6. Thermal comfort. Reduce heat island effect (hot urbanized areas) and how to deal with extreme temperatures and ultraviolet (UV) risk.
  7. Sound. Plan for acoustics and education about hearing health, including having noise exposure assessments.
  8. Materials. Reduce exposure to hazardous chemical materials, including limiting the use of hazardous chemicals in landscaping.
  9. Mind. Access to mental health care, substance abuse, and addiction services and providing green spaces.
  10. Community. Provide health promotion programming, health impact assessments, and crime prevention through environmental design.

WELL Health-Safety Rating

To make occupants feel more comfortable in your facility, especially in light of COVID, Spangler encourages facilities operations and management teams to obtain the “WELL Health-Safety Rating,” recognized with a seal on the organization’s front door, by focusing on the following strategies:

  • Cleaning and sanitization procedures
  • Emergency preparedness programs
  • Health service resources
  • Air and water quality management
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication

Learn More

During the webinar, Spangler also discussed the increasing demand for WELL since COVID began; the WELL ecosystem, such as ratings, certification levels, and scores; how WELL has impacted the primary and secondary educational sectors; WELL’s close relationship with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) through a joint crosswalk; and much more.

Information on how organizations that invest in health and well-being strategies can benefit from enhanced productivity and finances can be found in the “Investing in Health Pays Back” report.

To watch the entire webinar on demand for FREE, click here. Additionally, be sure to check out all the virtual events and resources as part of Facilities Management Advisor’s Healthy Buildings Week 2023.  

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