November 21, 2018

A simple way to pass your WELL certification

Julie Spitkovsky, LinkedIn

The WELL building standard by IWBI measures verifies and monitors building features that impact health and well-being and is based on ten principles, including Air, Thermal Comfort, Ventilation, and Materials. In 2016, Deloitte reported there are a growing number of WELL certification specifications in requests for proposals.

This year IWBI launched WELL V2, incorporating findings from over 1000 existing WELL projects and human health research over the last four years. The ROI of WELL certification is judged on the basis of increased property values and the health of a building’s occupants. 73 percent of owners view it as a positive impact on a building’s leasing rate, 62 percent view it as a positive impact on the building value, and 79 percent view it as a positive impact on occupant satisfaction.

Understanding WELL. The first (and perhaps the most important) concept under the WELL building standard is AIR. Under this concept, points are awarded to projects that create healthy indoor spaces with enhanced air quality via the implementation of a continuous indoor air quality monitoring solution. There is no requirement that the monitors be certified, rather, specifications for the monitors are outlined in Section A08 and discussed below.

How to be prepared for the verification process. Being able to prescreen your air quality before the verification process is a big advantage for architects, designers, sustainability advisors, builders and WELL project managers. Onsite performance testing, on-going reporting, and ongoing monitoring are all requirements for WELL certification. Having access to your projects air quality data prior to the performance test can save time and money and ensure passing. For example, measuring the levels of indoor pollutants with the Airthinx IAQ Device can help project owners better understand any weaknesses in the designated space.

Points under WELL v2. There are 3 tiers of WELL Core status ranging from silver (50-59 points) and gold (60-79 points) to platinum (80-100 points). Before a project can qualify for points, there are several preconditions that must be satisfied including effective ventilation, fundamental air quality, and thermal performance.

Carbon dioxide levels are a proxy for poor ventilation. Prescreening the effectiveness of your ventilation systems can be achieved prior to the performance test by measuring carbon dioxide levels. If carbon dioxide levels exceed 1000 ppm and there is low occupancy, then there is a problem with ventilation.

Under the fundamental air quality preconditions, projects must meet certain thresholds for particulate matter and organic gases, both verified through performance testing, and must also implement air quality monitoring, verified through ongoing data reports. To satisfy the thermal comfort precondition, a project has to demonstrate its ability to monitor temperature and humidity.

Passing the Performance Test, Meeting the Data Reporting Requirements & Ongoing Monitoring. For the first time, anyone can have access to air pollution data anytime, anywhere from the web, iPad or phone, so they are best equipped to make real-time decisions about their health.

“For example, say you are a manager on a WELL project and want to achieve points for Enhanced Air Quality. Section A05 requires that thresholds for PM2.5 and PM 10 are less than 10 μg/m³ and < 20 μg/m³. Verification for this section is accomplished with an on-site performance test. Utilizing the Airthinx in advance of the performance test allows anyone to have access to their air quality data and to mitigate any poor performance in order to pass the test. So if the levels of particulates for PM 10 are above 20 μg/m³, then project managers can install air filters or any other mechanism to lower the particle counts.”

Section A08 goes on to award points for continuous air quality monitoring. Utilizing the Airthinx IAQ Device is a simple way to satisfy this requirement. It measures at least 4 of the required parameters, with measurements taken at intervals of no longer than 10 minutes for particulate matter and carbon dioxide (in fact the Airthinx measures all the air quality parameters in 1-minute intervals) and data can easily be submitted through WELL Online with downloadable pdf graphs or csv tables available through the professional web console, thus satisfying the reporting requirement.

WELL awards additional points for Air Quality awareness. The Airthinx satisfies this criterion since data can be shared with occupants via a real-time display, can be mounted on the wall in the breathing zone (rather than being placed on a surface or desk) and has built-in visual alerts that demonstrate good, moderate and poor air quality with a blue, yellow or red LED light. Beyond that, the required data is hosted on both a website and phone application accessible to occupants in the space.

Airthinx is revolutionizing the Indoor Air industry with a low-cost professional air quality device, providing accurate, precise and continuous monitoring at room level of 9 air pollutants (PM 1.0, PM 2.5 and PM 10, Carbon Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Temperature, Pressure & Humidity). It’s simple to install, works directly out of the box, and has built-in 3G and wifi, so it is always connected to the cloud and collecting reliable data.

There are many more ways to earn points utilizing the Airthinx IAQ solution, the above list is by no means exhaustive.

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