WELL Certification: What to Consider When It’s Time to Recertify
In the modern era of sustainable building, human health and well-being continue to be at the forefront. The WELL Building Standard remains the leading tool for upgrading the physical environment of a building through improvements to air, water, light, acoustics, and other factors. Now more than ever, companies are looking to the design and construction industry to help enhance the occupant experience, whether pursuing the WELL Building Standard for the first time or preparing to recertify their space.
For businesses that have attained WELL certification, the recertification process enables them to renew their commit to health and wellness in their policies and the operation of their built environment. Once a company’s space is WELL certified, it must recertify after three years to ensure it continues to meet the rigorous standards and optimizes occupant health and productivity. But what happens if the rating system updates to a newer version or the goals of the organization shift? BCCI Construction’s Professional Service team weighs in on that question and shares tips to prepare for recertification.
Determine your goal. According to BCCI director of sustainability, wellness, & ESG Kena David, there is an advantage to upgrading to a newer version if a company wishes to pursue a higher certification level. For instance, “WELL v2 allows for more flexibility and offers more optimizations to aid in the pursuit of obtaining Gold certification if a company is currently at the WELL v1 Silver level,” she says.
Document annual maintenance and service. Regardless of whether a company decides to upgrade, the first step is to make sure yearly reporting is complete. This includes mechanical maintenance, janitorial maintenance, and occupant surveys. “We tend to check in with our clients who have just achieved certification and ask if they liked our help with annual maintenance and reporting services,” says David. “We want to make sure they’re prepared every step of the way.”
Plan ahead. When the decision has been made to reapply for WELL v1 or to upgrade to v2, gather all documentation, along with any annual reporting, policy and design changes, and performance testing completed within at least 6 to 12 months before enrolling for recertification. “A month or two before that three-year mark is when a company should get re-engaged to assess what needs to be updated,” says David. “Then we can correspond with the review team and get the on-site testing to happen within about six months of their timeframe, which would be ideal.”
Check what’s new. COVID-19 undoubtedly influenced how we maintain our spaces, especially in communal areas and regarding indoor air quality. Some of the COVID response has benefited WELL projects with air quality now monitored more closely, as mechanical and building engineers maintain better records and have increased filtration and frequency of cleaning. Other aspects of the COVID response that have changed operations are substituting fresh fruits, vegetables, and salad bars with prepackaged, processed foods to avoid potential viral contamination. Before recertifying, project teams should assess these types of policy changes that may affect their company’s WELL recertification.
Communicate and coordinate. In the event that policies have changed or the physical space has been renovated, David says that defining a schedule for quarterly check-ins is critical to staying on track with WELL recertification. Reengaging with your WELL consultant also helps keep the recertification process organized and efficient.
Consider cost. Lastly, project teams should consider the cost of recertification, particularly if there might have been alterations to the space or building that will affect the cost of recertification. According to David, the project team or WELL consultant should have a good line of sight to the budgetary implications and understand the client’s fiscal year. That way they know the best time to have the budget conversation and make sure there are no surprises down the line.
“One of the unique benefits of the work we’ve been doing with the recertification process is our continued relationships with our clients,” says David. “BCCI’s Professional Services Group continues to be the go-to for clients looking to pursue their recertification, not just the initial certification when they’re going through a build.”
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