It was officially announced earlier today that two of the leading building standards representing sustainability and health and well-being have reached an agreement that will see each organisation mutually recognise specific credits making it easier for projects pursuing both standards. This is nothing short of a triumph of common sense that will see the drive for sustainable buildings that support the health and well-being of occupants accelerated.

The announcement was made by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) and BRE and will see the two organizations pursue alignments between the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) and BREEAM. Whilst many construction and procurement processes and industry standards seem to add complication and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, it is refreshing to see BRE and IWBI working together to make it easier for project teams to achieve best practice.

Why is this so important? Quite simply, for too long we have been placing our emphasis on the environmental and economic aspects of sustainability and largely ignoring the fact we are creating buildings for people. WELL is about putting the health and well-being of these people front and centre. The marriage between BREEAM and WELL I believe will help bring the balance of sustainable buildings that promote occupier well-being in to focus.

WELL is the ‘new kid on the block’ having only been launched in 2014. However it already has over 300 projects across 27 countries, encompassing some 60 million square feet now registered or certified under the standard. Couple this with BREEAM’s use in more than 70 countries, and over 551,000 certified buildings over a 25-year period and the potential is clear. As well as the geographical reach and appeal of both standards, there are a lot of synergies between them in terms of how they are applied – both are founded in research, testing and performance.

I stated in a blog posted earlier this year that when you look at costs in relation to buildings, we all too often focus on energy savings. However the biggest cost is the people within them – and this cost is around 90% of that overall cost. In addition it has been claimed that we spend over 90% of our time indoors and in an office environment. With this in mind I for one am delighted that WELL and BREEAM will now be working together to help create a more cohesive method of creating sustainable buildings that have a clear focus on their impact on their occupants.

It has been claimed that by January 2017, 35% of credits under BREEAM and WELL will be recognised by each organisation. This is huge. At a time when the industry is increasingly looking at how the built environment impacts human health as well as sustainability, the collaboration by BREEAM and WELL couldn’t come at a better time.

Surely BREEAM coupled with WELL is a simple decision. BREEAM is a proven route to create sustainable buildings. By adding WELL you are not just saying that you want to create a building has been designed and built with best practice and in-use performance in mind but that you care about the occupant’s health and well-being. Well I for one am convinced.

Written by: Darren Evans, Managing Director, Darren Evans Assessments.

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