The International WELL Building Institute’s (IWBI) new Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi capped the first 100 days in his new role by laying out the cornerstones of his 2017 plan for the growing WELL Building Standard (WELL). These pillars will come as no surprise to those who have followed Fedrizzi’s leadership as the founding chairman and former CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council: Identify, simplify, solidify, amplify.
“When people are put at the center of design, construction and operations decisions for our buildings and communities, we can have an immediate and measureable impact on the health and well-being of the employees and colleagues, tenants and customers, faculty and students, and families who occupy them,” says Fedrizzi. “The WELL Building Standard is a tool that can help building owners and operators incorporate the features that deliver these results.”
WELL is a building standard focused on the health and well-being of building occupants. WELL is grounded in evidence-based medical research that demonstrates the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time and health and wellness impacts on us as occupants.
Fedrizzi noted that he’s spent the last 100 days talking to customers, the IWBI team, and companies and organizations with strong financial and human capital interest in the potential of WELL’s success. “When companies recognize that they can implement WELL for less than what their employees spend on coffee in a year, with the possibility of greater productivity, fewer absences due to illness, and lower insurance usage, they become interested,” says Fedrizzi.
“Our core users who have helped us pioneer the first market versions of WELL have been partners in helping us identify opportunities to scale adoption through simplification of both the WELL Building Standard and the processes,” says Fedrizzi. “Some things we are able to do immediately through our alternative adherence path (AAP) process, and we encourage our community to look at the list of new AAPs released. Others will be the result of streamlining internal certification processes to ease the flow of communications between project teams, IWBI and our third-party certification partner, Green Business Certification Inc. Our teams are reaching out to make users aware of these changes and to introduce the enhancements to organizations who have been interested in WELL as a tool.”
Fedrizzi continues, “We know that human health and planetary health are the same things; what we do in our buildings and communities impacts our back yards. For this reason, we are making it easier for project teams to link their green building rating systems of choice with WELL through credit crosswalks that remove the need for duplicative reporting. These are available today to users of Green Star and BREEAM, soon for LEED and Living Building Challenge, and others are underway. It’s not either/or. We want to make it seamless for project teams to pursue both.”
Fedrizzi noted that parallel to these immediate adjustments there is an effort underway to develop the next version of WELL that incorporates this ethic of simplicity with a customizable approach.
“Rather than waiting for us to develop numerous rating systems for various building types, we are announcing an all projects in strategy, where any building type can use AAPs to account for variables needed for a specific building type,” he says. “The next version of the rating system, to be released in late 2017, will allow project teams to build a scorecard that’s just the right fit for their project’s needs. We’re shifting from WELL for healthy buildings to WELL for your healthy building and creating a framework that will make this easier.”
Along with enhancements to the rating system itself, Fedrizzi noted that market growth requires an approach to how IWBI supports its WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) community and its global markets. The WELL AP credential signifies knowledge in human health and wellness in the built environment and specialization in WELL. This new approach to supporting WELL APs and IWBI’s global markets includes a streamlined path to certification that reduces costs for documentation and verification and expenses associated with them, especially for portfolios.
“Anything we can do to arm the AEC community with education about WELL and about how our buildings and communities directly contribute to the health and well-being of the people who occupy them is critical,” says Fedrizzi. “Additionally, we have new players at the table – public health professionals, human resources professionals, and C-Suite executives who can benefit from connecting the dots between healthier people and healthier buildings. These constituencies will now have at their fingertips educational offerings, including exam prep materials and a variety of in-person and online courses.”
Fedrizzi noted that IWBI is also increasing its market-based support in China, Australia and the United Kingdom, and expanding opportunities for IWBI teams to be with customers in-person and online.
“One of the ways we’ll extend our reach is through the launch of a the IWBI website that includes the new education portal and lays the groundwork for an integrated certification dashboard and resource center later this year,” says Fedrizzi.
“We’re excited about the re-visioning of the website as a platform through which we can connect our users to us and to each other, advance overall knowledge about buildings and health, and offer a valuable user experience for our customers,” says Fedrizzi. “Beyond that, you’ll also begin to see more of us out in the communities who have a stake in better buildings, as we expand our team and deploy them more fully into the market.”
To further engage these communities, Fedrizzi noted that IWBI will establish working groups of core users around building types, so input about the rating system, the registration and certification process, education and information needs can be captured and acted on in real time.
“WELL is how we drive uptake of the fundamental principle that our buildings and communities are important and cost efficient public health intervention tools. Making their benefits accessible to everyone is the most important work we can do,” Fedrizzi says.