Recognizing the effects that the built environment has on human health, well-being, and performance, Jennifer Stukenberg, LEED AP, and Kate Poland, AIA, recently became BWBR’s first WELL Accredited Professionals (WELL AP). They join only a handful of design and construction professionals in the region to hold that credential.
Launched in 2014 by the International WELL Building Institute, the WELL Building Standard examines how design, operations, and behaviors within a space can be optimized for health and well-being. Developed over six years through scientific and medical research and literature on environmental health, behavioral factors, and demographic risk factors that affect health, the standards examine air, water, food, light, fitness, comfort, and mental health aspects of a building.
Similar to certifications for buildings that meet stringent environmental impact standards, WELL certification for buildings recognize quality spaces for human health.
WELL AP denotes professionals who have studied and passed tests demonstrating a thorough understanding of the WELL standards.
“The average American spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors,” said Stukenberg, a principal and workplace strategist at BWBR. “In the past, our buildings have been designed to protect us from nature. Growing evidence shows us our relationship with nature is more complex, interconnected.
“Our buildings need to not only allow us to survive, they should allow us to thrive. WELL looks at lighting, air and water’s impact on our health and productivity and creates strategies for physical and mental health, noise control, thermal comfort, and nutrition.”
“For nearly two decades, we’ve focused on the performance of buildings through better design standards for energy and the environment,” said Poland, a project architect at BWBR. “WELL is focusing on whom we build buildings for, turning the focus on the health and performance of people, and like the past decades’ efforts, this will have a positive return on investment for companies.”
With WELL being a relatively new standard, less than 350 projects across the United States have pursued WELL certification, and only one in Minnesota has earned either silver, gold, and platinum certification.
“We keep expanding our understanding of how quality spaces improve human performance,” Poland said. “The more organizations learn about that relationship and employees talk about the benefits, the more we’re going to see WELL certification used to attract the best talent.”