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WELL Performance Rating: Leveraging building performance and occupant experience data to shift business decisions and organisational culture

Using Baker Stuart’s third-party anonymous survey, PeopleLOOK™, and general expertise to complete the IWBIs latest certification.

Alongside other IWBI ratings – Health Safety and WELL Equity – the WELL Performance Rating supports organisational decision making and provides a selection of measurable strategies across 7 key themes relating to the performance of the building in use that can be verified through onsite testing. 

The WELL Performance Rating ensures that organisations can demonstrate – both to their teams and to visitors to their spaces – that the way in which a space performs on an ongoing basis aligns with industry standards.  Whilst it is key that the design of the space is forward thinking, this can only be optimised if care is taken once the project is completed and the space is used “in anger”.   

For Baker Stuart, who have been working with the IWBI for a number of years as partners, and who can provide PeopleLOOK to support the overall WELL certification, this represents another exciting opportunity to support organisations in gaining a visible rating that demonstrates to people entering a building that it meets (or goes beyond) industrywide benchmarks. 

In this blog, we take a look at the background to the WELL Performance Rating and how to achieve it with a focus on the pivotal role that PeopleLOOK plays in achieving the IWBIs latest certification. 

Time to read: 7 minutes

WELL Performance Rating - a background

Developed by more than 100 experts taken from the IWBI Performance Advisory board, along with selected WELL Concept Advisors, a commitment lies at the heart of this rating with all those who supported its creation looking to drive rigour, evidence and scalability in the way that our buildings perform. Where the WELL Certification seeks to look at the way a space is designed, with some elements of ongoing performance, to ensure that it has the health and wellbeing of occupants at it’s heart, the Performance Rating is much more focused on real time monitoring and understanding of what happens next. 

There are more than 30 features to choose from, depending on the project / building and way in which your space functions, and you are required to complete 21 points in order to achieve WELL Performance Rating certification. Once certified, there is an annual requirement of renewal in order to validate performance data. 

Across the 7 key themes – indoor air quality, water quality management, lighting, thermal conditions, acoustic performance, environmental monitoring and occupant experience -there are three key ways in which features can be verified;  the majority will rely on using some of the designated performance testing organisations who will provide on site testing in order to satisfy third party verification requirements, whilst there is also the opportunity to collect data from permanently installed continuous monitors or, particularly in the case of features relating to occupant experience, taking insights from surveys and other specified methods – an area in which Baker Stuart is particularly adept at supporting you. 

WELL Performance Rating - the benefits (an overview)

Similar to the other WELL Ratings, one of the keys to the ethos underpinning the WELL Performance Rating is the provision of tools that seek to create environments in which everyone can thrive. 

Using evidence based strategies within the WELL Performance Rating, those people using the space will benefit in a number of ways that include; 

  • Minimising risks associated with airborne contaminants
  • Encouraging safer hand-washing and hydration
  • Promoting natural circadian rhythms
  • Supporting individual thermal comfort preferences
  • Creating quiet spaces that foster productivity
  • Tracking performance of key indoor environmental quality indicators.  
  •  

WELL Performance Rating - the work to be done

In order to complete the WELL Performance Rating an organisation must achieve a minimum of 21 points from 34 available features (as at 30th October 2023) across seven action areas; 

Indoor Air Quality (PA) 

  • PA1 Meet Thresholds for Particulate Matter 
  • PA2 Meet Enhanced Thresholds for Particulate Matter 
  • PA3 Meet Thresholds for Organic Gases 
  • PA4 Meet Enhanced Thresholds for Organic Gases 
  • PA5 Meet Thresholds for Inorganic Gases 
  • PA6 Meet Enhanced Thresholds for Inorganic Gases 
  • PA7 Ensure Adequate Ventilation 
  • PA8 Increase Outdoor Air Supply 
  • PA9 Meet Thresholds for Radon 

Water Quality Management (PW) 

  • PW1 Verify Water Quality Indicators 
  • PW2 Meet Chemical Thresholds 
  • PW3 Meet Thresholds for Organics and Pesticides 
  • PW4 Meet Thresholds for Drinking Water Taste 

Lighting Measurements (PL) 

  • PL1 Provide Visual Acuity 
  • PL2 Lighting for Day-Active People

Thermal Conditions (PT) 

  • PT1 Provide Acceptable Thermal Environment 
  • PT2 Manage Relative Humidity 

Acoustic Performance (PS) 

  • PS1 Limit Background Noise Levels 
  • PS2 Achieve Sound Isolation at Walls 
  • PS3 Achieve Reverberation Time Thresholds 
  • PS4 Meet Thresholds for Impact Noise Reduction  
  • PS5 Provide Enhanced Speech Intelligibility 

Environmental Monitoring (PM) 

  • PM1 Measure Air Parameters 
  • PM2 Install Indoor Air Monitors 
  • PM3 Promote Air Quality Awareness 
  • PM4 Monitor Thermal Environment 
  • PM5 Operable Windows 
  • PM6 Assess and Maintain Drinking Water Quality 

Occupant Experience (PX) 

  • PX1 Occupant Survey 
  • PX2 Utilise Enhanced Survey 
  • PX3 Utilise Pre- and Post- Occupancy Survey 
  • PX4 Facilitate Interviews, Focus Groups and / or Observation  
  • PX5 Survey for Thermal Comfort 

Innovation (EI)

Similar to the WELL standard, points may be awarded for innovation in ways to measure building performance that haven’t already been included. 

More detail on the individual features can be found on the IWBI site – HERE – alongside information on available resources and relevant FAQs, where available. 

WELL Performance Rating - the role of Baker Stuart

For a number of years, Baker Stuart have worked alongside the IWBI, providing our anonymous, third party survey – PeopleLOOK – to support organisations to gain either the precondition C03 or C04 concepts within the Community feature (depending on which version they were registered for).   

We have also been able to help with a number of related optimisations that truly give an organisation the opportunity to involve their people in WELL certification. 

As with the other WELL certifications that we are able to support, within the WELL Performance Rating there is a key opportunity to be able to incorporate occupant experience into the rating process and use this insight to help determine future decision making. 

Whilst there are no preconditions within the WELL Performance Rating, PX1 (Occupant Survey) provides a foundation for conversation, and our PeopleLOOK survey ensures that everyone has that voice and can express an opinion on the workplace, ensuring that it enables everyone to fulfil their potential. 

However, PX2 (Utilise Enhanced Survey), PX3 (Utilise Pre- and Post- Occupancy Survey), PX4 (Facilitate Interviews, Focus Groups, and/or Observations) and the specific focus within PX5 (Survey for Thermal Comfort) go further, and allow an organisation to gather additional layers of data – and consequently layers of understanding – to enable employees to feel valued and to signpost key areas of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction for employers. 

Building on minimum survey requirements – within PX2 and / or PX5 – Baker Stuart can support an organisation with additional questions that dive deeper into an area specifically relevant to the organisation.  This can be determined in conversation with HR to ensure that it adds maximum value and is a real opportunity to ensure that all voices are heard in a meaningful way.  Whilst questions around healthy behaviours may fall flat in some organisations, additional insight into performance and resilience or policies and culture could be critical. 

Following the example in WELL Certification – although differing from the requirements within the WELL Equity Rating – PX3 provides an opportunity to benchmark and to review and contrast data over time; highlighting differences in occupant experience and allowing organisations to focus on those areas that are important to occupants. 

A different layer of information is added when undertaking PX4, and Baker Stuart have significant experience facilitating focus groups, workshops and observations in order to gather a deeper understanding of how people across the organisation perceive the workplace and to make positive recommendations for changes that could be made.  We do so in a style that encourages participation from all and have developed a series of gamifications that not only make the sessions valuable, but that ensure that they are fun as well. 

These people focused elements of the rating provide an ideal opportunity to really understand the diverse populations within an organisation and can be a valuable way to include your people within what is an exciting, innovative and forward looking certification now offered by the IWBI.  

Sarah Moore
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About Baker Stuart

We are an independent specialist consultancy providing a comprehensive range of innovative workplace strategy, workplace management and change, move management, project management and programme management services. Thinking about optimising your organisation? Get in touch with us here.

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