Wellness standards exist for people, so why not also for buildings? After all, we spend about 90% of our lives indoors. Many of us spend seven to 10 hours each workday indoors. This equates to about 25% of our life spent indoors at work. That's a real bummer, especially if our indoor environment isn't healthy. Several studies show that productivity, mood and creativity can be boosted significantly with better indoor air quality and indoor environment quality. The WELL Building Standard guides and advises on the seven factors that can most impact human health and well being.
'Putting People at the Heart of Design, Construction, Operations and Development Decisions'
The WELL Building Standard, developed by the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), covers seven core concepts of health along with hundreds of features that allow for flexibility and creativity in building creation, renovation and retrofitting.
The seven core concepts - air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind - are shown in the example WELL Building Standard scorecard below. In this example, the project would receive silver WELL certification, as opposed to the higher gold and platinum certifications.
75F solutions most directly affect the factors Air, Light and Comfort, as defined by the Standard. By advancing human wellbeing in buildings, in partnership with the International WELL Building Institute and GBCI, we can markedly improve real estate asset values, employee long-term retention, productivity, creativity and health care cost savings among building occupants. Think of the WELL Building Standard a customer-centric approach to building design and management, applying user-experience (UX) design considerations for buildings for occupant experience (OX), with and emphasis on wellness.
Corporate expenses and investments related to human capital (employees) are 90% of corporate expenses in most industries, as exemplified in our blog regarding energy loads and your bottom line. Therefore, beyond the energy savings to be had with building automation technology, improving the wellness and productivity of your workforce can create tremendous ROI.
Getting Comfortable and Achieving WELLness
Pursuing WELL Building Standard certification doesn't have to be your end goal. If it is your goal, that's awesome, and we would love to help you get there! In fact, 75F can greatly help your building's WELLness regardless of whether you're pursuing the standard. Many WELLness factors are inherent in the LEED v4 standard, and the Human Experience is a key measure of the new dynamic Arc Score, which 75F has integrated. We want to help as many building owners and occupants as possible realize the benefits of setting the bar high for building WELLness and the human experience.
Obtaining WELL Building certification is similar to achieving LEED certification, which is understandably cost-prohibitive is some cases. However, creating outstanding ROI by implementing some aspects of WELL Building Standard concepts is absolutely possible.
As mentioned, 75F products and solutions most directly affect Air, Light and Comfort, as defined by the Standard, and here's what we can do to improve the Thermal Comfort for your building's occupants (Thermal Comfort happens to be a precondition of WELL Building certification):
- Thermal Comfort (WELL Feature 76): The relationship between the dynamics of buildings' energy requirements and human's core body temperature requirements. Of course, our bodies self-regulate between 97°F and 100°F, but mood, performance and productivity are all affected to greater degrees the more our bodies need to self-regulate. 75F Dynamic Airflow Balancing utilizes smart dampers in air ducts to prevent hot- and cold-spots from occurring in your building. By analyzing millions of data points each day, the 75F system is able to execute continuous commissioning, which enables individual room temperature management, best possible thermal comfort and significantly reduced energy usage.
The WELL feature is defined by ASHRAE Standard 55, which provides minimum requirements for acceptable thermal indoor environments to achieve thermal comfort for occupants. The WELL requirements also limit the operative temperature of kitchens, with which 75F is extensively experienced through such clients as Border Foods (Taco Bell), Arby's, Longhorn Steakhouse, McDonald's and several others.
- Individual Thermal Comfort (WELL Feature 82): One person's individual thermal comfort is not the same as another person's. Individual thermal comfort varies by gender, body type, metabolism and clothing. Until recently, it was impossible to control of individual thermal comfort within building thermal zones. But now you can, and it doesn't need to break your budget. The WELL standard requires "free address," which is a thermal gradient of 5°F across open workspaces and between floors or rooms with more than 10 people. All open office spaces with occupants at similar workstations performing similar tasks must allow for at least 50% free address.
The 75F Occupant App makes this all a reality in your building. Using the capabilities of iPhone or Android smartphones, building occupants are empowered to tailor their space for zone-specific temperature and lighting preferences for ideal comfort and performance. Users are able to see current temperature and lighting levels in their space and adjust accordingly without having to look for a light switch or thermostat. Additionally, geofencing technology enables the 75F system to anticipate the arrival to a space of users who have predefined their individual thermal comfort preferences. A bonus benefit of this product is the ability to precisely measure and manage building occupancy.
- Radiant Thermal Comfort (WELL Feature 83): According to the U.S. Department of Energy, radiant heating systems are often more energy efficient and effective than forced-air or baseboard heating systems. Radiant heating also provides advantages for people with allergies, uses less electricity and increases relative humidity, which is especially helpful in the winter.
The WELL Standard here again adheres to the requirements set forth by ASHRAE Standard 55 for lobbies and other common spaces, and it states that offices and other regularly occupied spaces have at least 50% of the floor area comply with ASHRAE Standard 55.
75F offers automated hydronic controls for hot and cold water systems. The system is flexible, quick to install and easy to configure, providing you with remote monitoring and control of hydronic pumps, hot water mixing valves, heat pumps, fan coil units, in-floor and in-wall radiant heat systems, cooling towers, chillers and VAV with reheat systems. Additionally, you will be able to monitor your hot water boilers remotely.
For more information about 75F hydronic control and radiant heat capabilities in the field, please see our case study of the 75F system installation at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wisconsin.
In following blog posts, we'll highlight other WELL Building Standard features that 75F can help you meet, such as Air and Light features. High air quality is crucial to maintain building occupant health, mitigate the effects of allergens, and reduce the elements that cause nausea, headaches and respiratory irritations. Light is specifically important to humans' circadian rhythms and alertness levels, while proper shading and workstations glare reductions assist in boosting productivity.