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Green: “WELL” and “LEED” Go Hand in Hand

With the emergence of the WELL Building Standard in the field of building certifications, I have been asked by many clients whether to go with WELL or LEED for buildings,

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Judhajit Chakraborty Assoc. AIA, LEED® AP WSP Built Ecology

especially in regions where the local code doesn’t mandate LEED Certification to some level. I reply to them with the most generic engineering answer: “it depends” on what the clients/owner’s goals are for the project. If superior occupant comfort leading to improved productivity and better health and wellness is one of the driving forces for design, then yes, WELL standard should be pursued. However I also mention that comparing LEED and WELL is like comparing apples and oranges.

LEED focuses on planet, where as WELL focusses on people. LEED is a whole building standard and caters to reduction in energy/water consumption. WELL standard is to scale comfort in buildings, it does not have any energy/water consumption reduction requirements.

WELL compliments LEEDv4 in many areas as far as some of the credits related to Materials & Resources and almost the entirety of the Indoor Environmental Quality credits. In this article, I will shine light on how the WELL Building Standard overlaps with LEEDv4.

Perhaps the biggest factor that connects these two standards is the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). GBCI is the main administering body of LEED online and the entire LEED certification process. GBCI also provides third-party certification for the WELL building standard, which includes supervision and training of WELL assessors, project registration, verification and certification. However, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) will continue to administer the WELL building standard, its content, research and versions. Another physical connection between the two standards is Rick Fredrizzi who will join IWBI as the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors starting November 2016. He currently serves as the CEO of USGBC and GBCI.

WELL assessors are responsible for assessing/reviewing a WELL project and ensure that the project complies with all the WELL building standard requirements. The WELL assessor is also responsible for both the documentation review and performance verification phases of WELL certification. Performance verification is a unique feature of the WELL standard where the WELL assessor does a comprehensive site/project audit to ensure that the project will deliver the highest quality occupant comfort and promote health and wellness to all occupants.

GBCI is also working on launching a beta site within LEED online for LEEDv4 wherein upon project registration and completing the LEED scorecard based upon the design, GBCI will do an automatic GAP/feasibility analysis for WELL. Not only that, for the many prerequisites and credits (similar to preconditions and optimizations in WELL standard) that completely overlap with WELL, one documentation will cover both the standards. The feasibility analysis categorizes the WELL preconditions and optimizations as favorable (which means complete overlap) and partial (partial overlap of LEED requirements). The beta site will be available initially to LEED proven providers and certification reviewers and later it will be launched in general.

Apart from above mentioned logistical and administrative connections between LEED and WELL, the appendix E of the WELL building standard (Page 215) explains the similarities between LEED and WELLand identifies all the WELL features, prerequisite or credit requirements which overlaps LEED.

Currently many projects are pursuing both LEED and WELL certification. As designers and developers understand the inherent relation of buildings and how the interior environment can promote health and wellness to the occupants, that list will continue to grow. “To have this connection with the IWBI shows the world that true sustainability is not just about the brick and mortar,” Fedrizzi said. “It’s about the human beings inside the brick and mortar.”


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