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IWBI launches COVID-ready certification

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) announced today the launch of the WELL Health-Safety Rating for all building and facility types, an evidence-based, third-party verified rating focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols and design strategies to address a post COVID-19 environment.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is one of the earliest outcomes of IWBI’s Task Force on COVID-19, a group of nearly 600 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals, which was established in late March to help guide IWBI’s response to the pandemic.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating provides a centralized source and governing body to validate efforts made by owners and operators. It leverages insights drawn from the IWBI COVID-19 Task Force, in addition to guidance on the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and leading academic and research institutions, as well as core principles already established by IWBI’s WELL Building Standard. Participation in the program requires submission of policies, protocols and strategies for third-party document review and annual verification.

“The WELL Health-Safety Rating is a sign of confidence that measures have been enacted to help support the health and safety of people entering spaces of all kinds, and that those measures have been mapped to scientific evidence and verified through a third-party review process,” said Rick Fedrizzi, chairman & CEO of IWBI.  “By drawing on the proven strategies in WELL, we’re working from the best science available and that’s more important than it’s ever been.”

The WELL Health-Safety Rating will accept registrations in June from all types of buildings and facility typologies, including offices, restaurants, hotels, retail establishments, manufacturing plants, warehouses, sports stadiums, arenas, theaters and other entertainment venues, schools, multi-family housing, and many others. Current WELL-registered projects and WELL Portfolio participants can earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating as part of their already established certification efforts.

“Our buildings and the people who tend them are our first line of defense for keeping us safe and healthy,” said Rachel Gutter, president of IWBI, “and the current pandemic has confirmed that health is a material economic consideration of the first order. These two simple truths stand at the nexus of our work to date and will, along with the hard evidence that is mounting, inform all our decisions about the critical need for better buildings, more vibrant communities and stronger organizations going forward.”

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is the first of many anticipated outcomes informed by the work of the IWBI COVID-19 Task Force that will be introduced in the coming months. Members of the Task Force include 17th Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Richard Carmona, former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, UCLA’s Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Harvard School of Public Health’s Joseph Allen, and environmental scientist Allen Hershkowitz Ph.D., among others.

“The Task Force has received overwhelming support and input from all over the world,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States. “People are learning that buildings themselves can be powerful vehicles for protecting and improving public health.  All of us individually have a responsibility to the collective whole to use every tool, including our buildings and our sense of community, to keep ourselves and those we care about safe.”

“The impacts of the virus have been many, but not the least is the anxiety of uncertainty about where people feel safe,” said Despina Katsikakis, Head of Occupier Business Performance at Cushman Wakefield and member of IWBI’s COVID-19 Task Force. “Achieving this new WELL Health-Safety Rating is a great way to increase confidence that evidence-based steps to do the right thing have been taken to keep health front and center as the economy reopens.”

Recently, IWBI released an interim Strategies from the WELL Building Standard to Support in the Fight Against COVID-19, another key outcome of the Task Force. Grounded in the foundation of WELL, these evidence-based strategies provide an actionable framework for organizations and communities as they advance a safer and healthier future. IWBI is expanding these strategies into Guidelines for Preparedness and Prevention, Resilience and Recovery in relation to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The Guidelines will provide insight into how the current strategies have evolved, as well as indicate areas where further work is required.

Since its inception, IWBI has been driving forward the convergence of building science and health science. Registrations under the WELL Building Standard, the premier standard for healthy real estate, have already surpassed 550 million square feet across 62 countries. The WELL Building movement has been further amplified by over 11,000 WELL Accredited Professionals (APs) and registrants across the globe.

Gutter noted that upon achieving the designation, IWBI will issue the project a WELL Health-Safety Rating seal. Register interest in the WELL Health-Safety Rating here.

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