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Alternative Adherence Paths & Equivalencies

Alternative Adherence Paths & Equivalencies

The International WELL Building Institute™ welcomes projects to meet feature requirements through innovative, alternative strategies, which can be proposed through an alternative adherence path (AAP) submission. An AAP or Equivalency Proposal is a formal request for approval and technical guidance to use an alternative or equivalent strategy to comply with a specific feature and the feature intent.

Feature Intent

Each WELL Building Standard feature is designed to address issues that impact the health, comfort or knowledge of occupants. Many features intended to improve health are supported by existing government standards or other standard-setting organizations. Some features are intended to change behavior through education and corporate culture, providing, for example, information and support for making positive lifestyle choices.

Submitting an Alternative Adherence Path

An AAP is appropriate for projects with a unique, nuanced or complex element that restricts their ability to comply with existing feature requirements. The proposal should include clear, substantiated evidence of how the proposed strategy meets the intent of the feature, including any relevant background information or supporting documentation.

To determine whether submission of an AAP is recommended, a project may inquire with the project's WELL coaching contact (if project is registered) or with (if the project is not registered). Projects pursuing certification under the WELL Building Standard v1 are eligible to receive three AAPs at no additional cost, while pilot projects receive ten. There is no limit on the number of AAP’s that can be submitted per project, but there is a $220 fee for each subsequent AAP.

Usually, each AAP ruling applies only to the project that submitted the application. However, in some situations, multiple projects may submit a single AAP and utilize the ruling across all specified projects. Projects eligible to utilize this pathway are required to meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • The projects are located at the same development site. (Examples include an Interiors project within a Core & Shell project or two Interiors projects on the same site.)
  • The AAPs submitted are for features categorized as Organizational Protocol.

In both cases, the strategy proposed must be identical across all projects using the AAP. Furthermore, the project team must specify in the AAP submission the names and IDs of all projects using the AAP. Only projects registered for WELL Certification may be specified.

Published Alternative Adherence Path

When it is determined that an AAP has a broader application across multiple projects, the AAP rulings may be made public so that other projects may pursue and apply them. If a project would like to pursue a published AAP, the project team should reach out directly to the project’s WELL Performance Testing Agent.


Projects registered in countries other than the United States may find some challenges based on local regulations and standards that differ from those outlined in WELL. IWBI invites projects to petition for the use of equivalent requirements that is more relevant to the country/region where a project is located, through an equivalency proposal (EP). An EP is a formal request submitted by a project to receive approval for the substitution of an equivalent standard, code or practice in place of WELL feature requirements, prior to final documentation review.