Farah Naz on the WELL Building Standards

I recently attended the Dubai Health Forum hosted by The Dubai Health Authority. The topic of discussion revolved around improving the health and wellbeing of the people in buildings, and the benefits the WELL rating system can bring.

The Forum was organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The purpose was in line with Dubai’s 2016 – 2021 ambitious, strategic goals, focusing on transforming Dubai into a Healthy and Happy City.

Buro Happold was invited to collaborate with CEO Paul Scialla from IWBI (International WELL Building Institute) and his team, to talk about the Health and Wellbeing of the Buildings.

For those who may not be familiar with the WELL Building Standards for the built environment you can find a brief introduction below:

What is Wellbeing?

Wellbeing is a state of mind and body that encourages high level functioning. Whereas traditional health approaches focus on fixing what’s broken, wellbeing approaches are more preventative and aim to provide an environment where everyone can flourish.

Physical wellbeing

Our bodies are made up of many different biological systems, such as musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and circadian systems. These can be stimulated, and damaged, by many external factors such as physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, thermal comfort, humidity, sunlight and air quality.

Mental wellbeing

As humans, we need to feel good about ourselves and be able to function both as an individual and as part of society. It is these feeling, functioning and relationship aspects that are key to mental wellbeing. Behaviors that improve wellbeing include lifelong learning, giving and being generous to other people, being physically active, connecting with people and taking notice of the world around us.


WELL is the world’s first performance-based health and wellness certification program for buildings and communities. It’s an evidence-based system developed in conjunction with professionals from leading medical entities like the Cleveland Clinic, designed to create places that support people’s health and happiness.

WELL Certified™ spaces can help create buildings that improve the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, productivity and performance of the people who live, work and learn in them.  A WELL Certified project has the potential to add measurable value to the health, well-being, productivity, and happiness of building occupants. By placing people at the heart of design, construction, operations and development decisions, we have the ability to add value to real estate assets, generate savings in personnel costs, and enhance the human experience, health and well-being.

WELL around the world

Currently, there are more than 650 projects engaged with WELL across 31 countries. Dozens of projects are now pre-certified or certified in markets ranging from the United States to China, the UK to Australia, and Mexico to France. IWBI is collaborating with the U.S. Green Building Council (LEED), Green Building Council of Australia (Green Star), BRE (BREEAM), the International Living Future Institute (Living Building Challenge) and other green building councils on credit ‘crosswalks’. These crosswalks are designed to make it easier for project teams to link their green building rating systems of choice with WELL and remove the need for duplicative reporting.

  • WELL Projects -650+ projects (registered, pre-certified or certified)
  • WELL APs- 2,000 WELL APs globally
  • WELL Building are in 31 countries

Benefits of WELL

  • Enhance the quality of the environment: 90% of our time is spent indoors: the quality of our buildings can impact our productivity and the way we feel.
  • Employers spend 92% of their annual operating costs on people. WELL can result in meaningful returns on investment.
  • Attract and retain employees, clients and investors
  • Build brand equity through leadership and innovation
  • Maximize performance of employees by contributing to increased productivity, reduced absences, and increased job satisfaction/engagement
  • Promote health and well-being to 100% of employees, and offer them a healthier working environment.
  • Measuring results WELL applies third-party verified measurement method, therefore, consistently applied across projects, and requires onsite performance testing, which allows for pre and post comparison of impacts, the associated human benefits can be quantitatively measured.
  • Committed to research WELL is evidence-based and publicly references more than 190 specific external citations. Its continuous evolution is supported and informed by ongoing scientific research conducted by a variety of leading academic and institute partners.
  • Recognition and ongoing support. Upon achievement of WELL Certification, projects and their organizations are awarded a WELL Certification plaque and certificate and a variety of tools designed to help projects and teams promote their achievement, including a branding kit, project team awards, press releases templates and other marketing resources.  WELL’s marketing and communication team actively partners with companies and projects to make sure they take advantage of all visibility opportunities, including project profiles on IWBI’s website, access to collateral, and media relations support.

For more information about our work in this area please visit about health, welling and productivity page, or explore the related content to the right of this article.

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