Given the unique opportunities and challenges presented by different building types, additional time and resources are needed to aggregate the necessary scientific and institutional support to refine the WELL Building Standard® to the specific needs of additional project types. As such, pilot programs are in development to test and refine how WELL can best apply to different space types. The WELL Building Standard is a continuously evolving program that is updated as improved evidence and technologies become available. The following pilot standards have been released:
Multifamily Residential applies specifically to projects with at least five dwelling units in a single building with common structural elements. Projects that qualify include apartments, condominiums, townhouses and other residential complexes within all market thresholds – affordable housing, market-rate and luxury. Single-family homes and duplexes are not part of the residential pilot.
Places of learning, including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and higher education facilities must provide for the needs of teachers and students of all ages. Educational Facilities applies to projects where dedicated staff are employed for instructional purposes, and students can be of any age. Courses may cover any range of topics, and facilities may be typified by fully scheduled days, or distinct classes that students enroll in at will.
Retail centers, including boutique shops and big-box stores, are another opportunity to design and construct buildings to the WELL Building Standard. Retail spaces are unique in that they simultaneously house and cater to two distinct groups: the transient consumer and the staff, who spend many more hours in the facility. Retail applies to locations where consumers can view and purchase merchandise on-site, and staff are employed to assist in the sale of products. The Retail pilot standard is applicable to both owner- and tenant-occupied projects, and to both those in stand-alone buildings and those integrated into larger structures.
Away-from-home meals constitute a significant source of nourishment for many, making restaurants a crucial place for health and wellness intervention. The design of eating spaces and the way foods are presented can subtly nudge occupants towards specific behaviors and help make healthy eating decisions. Restaurants applies to locations where a customer purchases food and dines on-site, and includes indoor or outdoor seating. The establishment may include wait staff that tend to customers, or be self-serve. The Restaurant pilot standard does not include take-out only establishments, or establishments whose primary source of revenue derives from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Further, the Restaurant pilot standard only applies to dining spaces—it does not cover kitchens in which food is prepared (see Commercial Kitchen).
Commercial Kitchens applies to locations where cooks prepare food for other building users. The kitchen component of a space requires specific considerations relating to ventilation and contamination. It is not applicable to office kitchenettes or home kitchens. In general, spaces subject to local health inspection are likely to use this pilot standard. Commercial Kitchen is always paired with another standard, such as Restaurant or Education. For example, the Commercial Kitchen pilot standard may be coupled with the Restaurant pilot standard to cover both the food preparation and customer dining spaces, respectively. This pilot standard may also be paired with WELL v1 for commercial and institutional offices if projects feature kitchens with associated food-service staff engaged in food preparation activities on-site.
Primary and Secondary Space Types
The International WELL Building Standard™ uses a space category, which is defined as some or all of a building that is typified by a specific use or function. Spaces are tied to specific standards. Spaces are designated as either primary or secondary. Primary spaces are those that can apply to an entire project, whereas secondary spaces are always affiliated with a primary space.
A project therefore could be comprised of one space, meaning it applies one standard, or it could be comprised of multiple spaces and apply multiple standards. For example, a school with a cafeteria would consist of a primary space using the Educational Facilities pilot standard and an affiliated secondary space using the Commercial Kitchen pilot standard.
In order to achieve WELL Certification through the pilot program, the entirety of the project space must be evaluated. Every project is anchored by a primary space’s standard. If the entirety of a project space falls under the purview of a single primary space’s standard, only that standard is required for WELL Certification. If there are spaces within the project scope that meet the definition of another, existing pilot secondary space’s standard, then the project must adhere to the requirements of that secondary space’s standard as well. This ensures that any distinct spaces within the project scope that may require unique considerations will only be held to those requirements appropriate for that space.
These pairing requirements are only applicable to standards of the same class: either both the primary and secondary spaces must be pilot standards, or both must be graduated (i.e., non-pilot) standards. For example, a project whose primary space refers to the commercial and institutional offices will not be required to adhere to any pilot secondary space standards. However, if the primary space refers to a pilot standard, and there are applicable secondary spaces that fall under the purview of any existing pilot secondary space’s standards, then the project will be required to pursue both the pilot primary and pilot secondary space standards.