With WELL interior sustainable accreditation expected to become the norm in Hungary and the wider European office markets, the organization has announced changes to the system.
In the new version of WELL the concepts have been reorganized into ten-plus-one concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, Community, plus Innovations.
The most important change for the European market is seen as the new approach to performance verification. In the first version, documentation was sent to the United States but in “WELL v2” projects are allowed to contact local providers. Thus the developers of European projects have the possibility to save time and money according to the International WELL Building Institute.
“WELL v2 operates on a points-based system, with a total of 100 points available to each project, plus ten innovation points,” the IWBI said. “All optimizations have maximum point values. The point-value of a feature is determined by its potential for impact. This is defined as the extent to which a feature addresses a specific health and wellness concern or opportunity for health promotion, and the potential impact of effective intervention.
Regina Kurucz, an architect and WELL building energy assessor, commented: “I think that WELL will become the norm. WELL projects may be perceived as having added value. Since the WELL Build Standard focuses on the health and wellness of the people, there may be increases in productivity and employee retention. WELL certification requires the evaluation of the triple bottom line of the product: the framework of social, financial and environmental bottom line.”
The WELL system has also been extended to other classes of buildings such as hotels. “My favorite change is that, in the new version, all buildings can apply regardless of their function. This is important, because people should have a healthy and inspiring environment wherever they are; at home, in the office, at school as well as at a sport, cultural or recreational facility,” she added.
There are as yet no actual WELL certified buildings in Hungary, although three office buildings have reached the pre-certification level and six projects are registered. Advance Tower, Budapest One and Corvin 5 - Corvin Technology and Science Park by Futureal are all pre-certified. An example of a registered building is the Europa Design office and showroom.
“With achieving a WELL Certification, Europa Design wants to strengthen the company’s commitment to the work-life balance idea in our office spaces,” said the company.
“In Hungary we have a good base for WELL buildings, because with reasonable focus we can fulfill the requirements of clean air and water preconditions and optimizations,” Kurucz reckons. “The Hungarian culture is open for changes in nourishment and movement activities. In my view, a big challenge will be to convince offices of the need for quiet spaces for relaxation and private phone calls. Relaxing areas help to reduce stress and improve work quality.”
There are no certified buildings as yet in Germany, Czech Republic, Poland or Austria. There are currently four “Gold” certified buildings and one “Silver” in France, three “Gold” and one “Silver” in the United Kingdom, and one “Gold” in both Ireland and Spain. No “Platinum” level buildings have been achieved. Nearly 300 industry professionals in Europe have also successfully passed the WELL Accredited Professional exam, highlighting the growing pool of practitioners and industry professionals looking to develop and demonstrate their understanding of healthy building strategies.
“The new version of WELL building standard puts great emphasis on the power of communities,” concludes Kurucz. “There is even a new group of features called Community Concept. Small and large communities can be a significant factor in the physical and mental wellbeing of occupants. The WELL Building Standard can help companies to attract and keep the best workforce. I think this is an invaluable accomplishment when the workforce is scarce.”