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WELL and BRE take centre stage in a joint quest to build a better future

Category:

The Built Environment

Tags:

breeam, wellbeing

Humans spend at least 90% of their lives within the built environment. The importance of the holistic nature of these environments has never been more topical as evidence and media interest focuses on the detrimental effects our cities and urban areas are having on the occupants they are designed to serve. Construction techniques, materials and methods have grown exponentially, which means the decisions architects, contractors and designers are required to make have become ever more complex. Add to the mix an ever expanding knowledge bank of data relating to these new building practices, together with the demand for exacting standards and it is easy to see why stress levels are rising! In addition to the wealth of solutions and a phlethera of different standards a project can potentially choose or have to adhere too, there is now a growing emphasis on how buildings perform. Physical performance in terms of energy use etc are still vital, but as our knowledge increases, other aspects of the built environment which impact upon human health and well-being are coming to the fore. Since its launch in 1990, BREEAM certification has gained traction within the built environment. As its benefits have been recognised, it has become a highly desirable accreditation denoting the quality of the finished building. However, successfully achieving these exacting standards inevitability adds an additional level of complexity to the project. Built environment professionals need to ensure their build measures up to the standards throughout the design and construction process, as well as during occupancy. Breeam Outstanding and WELL Silver gold level: 80 - 100 Victoria Street, London The BREEAM assessment measures the design and build process together with the physical function of the resulting build. With this well respected stamp of quality there has been an assumption that the building will inevitablity provide a sustainable environment for its occupants. However a sustainable building does not necessary equate to a ‘Well’ building. As a recent British Council of Offices survey of UK office workers discovered many office workers are highly dissatisfied with their working environment. BREEAM certification results in high quality buildings in terms of sustainability; however the impact on the health and well-being of the occupants in these buildings is not part of the assessment process. Launched in 2014 the Well Standards accreditation was not universally applauded. Based on six years of research and development into how buildings impact on occupants this relatively new kid on the block has found it hard to gain widespread appeal. The concept of measuring a building from the perspective of the occupant has generally been perceived as simply adding another layer of complexity to an already  highly involved process.. In addition, the WELL Standards process initially led to duplication of work when assessed alongside BREEAM as some of the criteria overlapped. Breeam Excellent, WELL Gold level: Cundel - Carter Lane, London In an attempt to address this, BRE (British Research Establishment) and IWBI (the International WELL Building Institute) announced an alignment of the two standards in January 2018. The collaboration between the two standards is potentially of benefit to both. Whilst the two standards ostensibly deal with separate phases and focus on different elements in a building’s life cycle; with BRE focusing on the creation and WELL on the functioning of an occupied building, they are however inextricably interlinked. Both are based on a holistic approach measuring environmental, social and economic aspects of the build and quality measurement values that go further than regulatory requirements and standard practice. This joint approach potentially gives additional gravitas to both standards. Each organisation is committed to transforming the built environment to the benefit of all. The forward march of technology is making the real-time monitoring of all aspects of our lives both practical and feasible, further strengthening the possibilities of the two approaches. As knowledge within this fledgling field increases the importance of WELL and BREEAM as standards within the built environment is only set to build….