Canada's Condominium Magazine

WELL building standard now promoted in Canada

The shower water is infused with vitamin C to reduce chlorine, helping keep skin and hair soft and smooth. Cedar “elements” protect clothing by repelling different types of pests. Dawn simulation gently awakens guests with increasing levels of light and sound. Scents are available for mood enhancing and relaxation. An air purification system reduces allergens, toxins, smoke and microbes in the air. Bright white light suppresses melatonin and can help reduce jet lag and regulate circadian rhythm. This is just a partial list of the many features available, not at the newest trendy wellness spa or rehab centre for the rich and famous, but at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. There’s even a video welcome message from today’s top wellness guru, Deepak Chopra. Perhaps people are more likely to gamble their money away when they feel well?

As much as this will all sound kind of gimmicky to some, there’s a serious side to it. The MGM “Stay Well” rooms are in fact an early example of the WELL Building Standard as developed for the hotel industry. The WELL Building Standard is the work, through The Wellness Institute, of real estate mogul Paul Scialla. He is the CEO of real estate development firm Delos, which focuses on seven principles: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind for each of its design projects. These same seven principles form the basis of the WELL Building Standard (WELL).

According to WELL, the approach is grounded in medical research that shows strong connections between the buildings where we spend more than 90 per cent of our time and our health and wellness. The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard to focus exclusively on human health and wellness, going beyond standards such as LEED, which focus more on environmental sustainability. The two concepts, however, are inextricably linked. A Delos statement explains wellness in buildings in terms of prevention: environments where we live should help us “cultivate healthy lifestyle choices and prevent health problems before they begin.”

WELL is grounded in a body of medical research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants. The WELL Building Standard is the culmination of seven years of research, in partnership with leading scientists, doctors, architects and wellness thought leaders.

WELL supported by LEED group

Established standards organizations are taking WELL seriously. The Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which administers the LEED program, and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) announced yesterday that they will promote the WELL Building Standard in Canada, saying that it complements other building rating systems like LEED. Mahesh Ramanujam, president of GBCI, called it “an important next step” in the development of better, healthier buildings.

“Just as LEED has transformed the building sector to address environmental accountability, WELL will further that vision by focusing deeply on the people in the buildings and providing developers and owners with a new way to account for health and human occupancy challenges.”

TD Bank has already said it will introduce the WELL Standard into its operations. Oxford Properties has also indicated it will start introducing WELL. The standard, which has three levels (Silver, Gold, Platinum) can be used in retail, multifamily residential buildings, schools, restaurants, and hospitals. The standard is performance based and requires a passing grade in each of the seven categories.

A typical residential application of WELL would include features such as acoustic damping in floors, antimicrobial coatings on high-touch surfaces, EMG shielding to protect residents from electromagnetic radiation, and building-wide water purification. An office might include treadmill desks, stretching and relaxation areas, ergonomically designed furniture, and greenery.

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