How “healthy” is your building? A new industry rating system provides crucial insight.

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The pandemic has made the entire world acutely aware of how devastating an airborne virus can be – to people, businesses, and economies. As organizations plan for employees to safely return to the workplace, the conversation around the importance of healthy buildings has re-energized. A healthy environment delivers multiple benefits beyond safety. In this post, you will learn about the exciting launch of the new WELL Performance Standard designed to encourage and recognize building owners and operators for continuously monitoring and optimizing the health of their properties.

Why is a healthy building important?

Schneider Electric believes that for organizations to prosper, Buildings of the Future not only need to be sustainable, hyper-efficient, and resilient; they must also be people-centric. This means a transition to a healthier, more innovative workplace that supports greater occupant well-being and engagement.

Why is this important?

Investing in healthy buildings can result in higher employee confidence and loyalty while reducing health insurance costs. Studies show that a healthier building can result in 3.5 fewer sick days per employee, while a well-ventilated environment supports a 101% increase in cognitive scores.

It is also essential to keep employees informed about safety protocols and help them safely navigate and work within the ‘new normal’ of the office while staying as productive as possible.

A healthier building is often considered more valuable and attractive, typically achieving a 20% rental premium potential.

Thankfully, smart building technologies are available today that can help any building become healthier and more engaging. These technologies can also further differentiate a property in the commercial real estate market. In addition, there are wellness standards that can help guide building owners and facility managers in achieving their goals. Let us look at the most popular and fastest-growing one.

What is the WELL Building Standard?

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is the world’s leading organization focused on advancing a people-first approach to buildings. The IWBI administers the WELL Building Standard (WELL), a roadmap for creating and certifying spaces that promote human health and well-being.

WELL measures physical and mental health across 10 core concepts, including air, light, thermal comfort, movement, mind, community, and more. The WELL standard uses third-party verification of performance standards, operational protocols, and company-wide practices.

WELL aligns perfectly with the Schneider Electric vision of taking buildings from places of work to areas of wellness and productivity for occupants. The next step is to ensure that building health is maintained and optimized continuously, over the entire lifecycle.

Introducing the WELL Performance Rating

The IWBI recently announced the upcoming launch of the WELL Performance Rating. This new designation will reward building owners and operators for “using measurable and validated building and human performance metrics to gain insights into the health and well-being of the people inside and enhance conditions in their spaces based on those insights.” The rating is designed to help marry building and health performance metrics by means of accelerating the use of “smarter, more integrated approaches to improve and enhance well-being and performance.”

Based on the WELL Building Standard, this new rating system will call for specific leadership thresholds for the 10 core concepts (noted above), using “quantitative and qualitative data to track, monitor and improve the performance of both the buildings and the people inside.” Organizations pursuing the new WELL Performance Rating will be supported by IWBI’s global network of testing and member organizations and a community of accredited professionals in over 100 countries.

Schneider Electric is one of a group of industry leaders that contributed to developing the WELL Performance Rating. Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO for Schneider Electric, noted, “with today’s launch of the WELL Performance Rating, we are poised to chart a path to remake the buildings of the future and continue to deliver on Schneider Electric’s longstanding mission to pioneer integrated solutions that leverage the power of digitalization to achieve peak performance, efficiency, and reliability, all while enhancing occupant health.”

Supporting WELL with connected building technology

Integrated smart build technologies are already helping many buildings worldwide improve the health and experience of occupants, making employees happier and the workplace more productive. These solutions can also simplify compliance with standards like the WELL Performance Rating.

Connected devices track everything from room comfort parameters to indoor air quality (e.g., CO2 and volatile organic compounds) to peoples’ movement. Every aspect of power conditions and energy consumption is also accurately measured and analyzed.

Driven by these inputs, building health and performance can be automatically optimized in a responsive and unified way. For example, if a rise in CO2 and/or increased density of people is detected, the building management system (BMS) will respond by increasing ventilation in that zone. The opposite will also be true: a low occupancy zone will trigger the BMS to reduce ventilation – and maybe also reduce heating, cooling, or lighting – to save on energy. In this way, improving indoor health is balanced against meeting efficiency and decarbonization goals.

This same network of VOC and occupancy sensors can ensure building maintenance crews clean the right places at the right time, helping ensure safety while optimizing time and costs. And the newest integrated employee engagement apps will keep employees informed of ‘safe’ areas to help avoid overcrowding, give them touch-free control over room comfort, and enable efficient meeting room booking. These and other convenient functions can all translate to gains in productivity.

Beyond these powerful capabilities, the newest smart building solutions use continuous data collection and analytic tools to simplify building health and performance reporting. Reports can be regularly shared with third-party testing organizations, such as those evaluating compliance with the WELL Performance Rating. This makes achieving and maintaining certification easier for facility teams. And these same tools can be used to support other building rating systems, like LEED.

Learn more

Schneider Electric is a leader in providing integrated solutions that enable more sustainable, efficient, resilient, and healthy buildings. We also seek out strong partners and programs in support of our vision. This includes working closely with the IWBI to support the data reporting requirements of the WELL Performance Rating. Our EcoStruxure Building solutions help drive greater visibility and improvement of all aspects of building operations to help owners and facility managers make their buildings and businesses future-ready. Discover more about Buildings of the Future and download our “Guide to Healthier Buildings.”

Global100 Schneider Electric has been recognized as the world’s most sustainable corporation in 2021 by Corporate Knights Global 100 Index.

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