The role of WELL Certifications in your ESG story

Best Practices ESG Sustainability Reporting
  • December 28, 2021 | Anne Grzywa
The role of WELL Certifications in your ESG story

The role of WELL Certifications in your ESG story

Climate change is at the center of today's ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) conversation, making environmental challenges a key concern and priority for businesses, investors, communities, and governments. Yet ESG issues extend far beyond climate alone.

From the COVID-19 epidemic to the Black Lives Matters movement, the year 2020 shone a bright spotlight on global socioeconomic challenges and inequities. As a result, businesses around the world were forced to reconsider their social responsibilities and address “S” issues of ESG such as economic inequality, access to affordable housing, gender and diversity gaps in the workplace, and a rise in mental illness.

Organizations are increasingly required to be transparent about their business practices and are being held more accountable for the well-being of their employees, supply chains, and the communities in which they do business. Third-party certifications, such as the WELL Building Standard (WELL) from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), have created a new paradigm to support this shift.

The "S" in ESG: What does it mean?

People and relationships are at the heart of ESG's social component. It focuses on how a corporation interacts with its employees, financial stakeholders, the communities in which it operates, and the larger political context. Social issues examine how social trends, labor movements, and political changes present risks and opportunities that can affect a company's financial performance and public image.

Within the standard ESG agenda, the "Social" pillar often focuses on organizational policies and practices related to human rights, business ethics, supply chain management, diversity and inclusion, and the social impacts of company operations.

These are the key themes and issues included in most social sustainability assessments:

  • Human capital
  • Labor management
  • Human capital development
  • Health and safety
  • Supply chain labor standards
  • Product liability
  • Product safety and quality
  • Chemical safety
  • Financial product safety
  • Privacy and data security
  • Responsible investment
  • Health and demographic risk
  • Stakeholder opposition
  • Controversial sourcing
  • Social opportunities
  • Access to communications
  • Access to finance
  • Access to healthcare
  • Opportunities in health and nutrition

Certifications such as WELL were designed to help companies assess the full scope of social issues surrounding health and well-being.

The International WELL Building Institute Certification

IWBI works with organizations and stakeholders who recognize that human health has a significant impact on key business metrics such as productivity, engagement, and resilience.

Using a people-first approach to buildings, organizations, and communities, IWBI is aiming to transform health and well-being in the built environment. This is accomplished by creating an evidence-based, veritable, and implementable standard that has been developed over the last decade by soliciting feedback from a varied ground of practitioners, subject matter experts, and users at every stage of its evolution.

These certification standards establish stringent performance criteria for design interventions, operational protocols, and company-wide practices, all of which are verified by a third party and allow for improved health and well-being across the entire ESG landscape. By implementing strategies that safeguard and promote occupants’ and stakeholders' physical, mental, and social well-being, the standards are designed to save healthcare expenses and turnover, boost productivity, attract and retain employees, and improve workplace culture.

The WELL Building Standard Rating

IWBI's first standard, WELL, is the world's premier grading system for buildings and organizations that want to create more thoughtful and intentional places that improve people's health and well-being. WELL is a plan for enhancing the entire built environment to promote mental health and productivity, including 108 components within the following 10 concepts:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nourishment
  4. Light
  5. Movement
  6. Thermal Comfort
  7. Sound
  8. Materials
  9. Mind
  10. Community

Each concept is defined by elements that have different health benefits. The WELL digital platform walks project teams through the creation of a custom scorecard and recommends a set of features based on project-specific factors that may be further defined and adjusted based on each company's or industry's individual demands.

WELL's most recent version has proven to be a scalable and globally relevant feature set that is flexible, inclusive, and adaptable to any environment or organization trying to improve human health and promote well-being for everyone.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating

The WELL Health-Safety Rating, which is based on the WELL Building Standard and supported by more than 600 experts from the Task Force on COVID-19, assists buildings and organizations in addressing the health, safety, and well-being of their occupants.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating can assist users in preparing their spaces for re-entry in a post-COVID-19 world while fostering confidence and trust in inhabitants and the larger community. While it was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the solutions contained within it are broad-reaching and relevant to a variety of health and safety challenges.

The Health-Safety Rating is made up of a subset of WELL Building Standard elements that have been adapted for a facilities and operations focus, including:

  • Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
  • Emergency Preparedness Programs
  • Health Service Resources
  • Air & Water Quality Management
  • Stakeholder Engagement & Communication

The WELL Health-Safety Rating will require each building or area to attain 15 features by pursuing a combination of the described aspects. It offers a wide range of evidence-based criteria that can be customized to both a facility's or organization's specific needs.

How can Goby help with earning healthy building certifications?

Goby has spent the last decade helping organizations streamline, improve, and communicate their ESG strategies to their stakeholders. We pride ourselves in having the expertise to help each client customize their unique ESG goals. As Goby's in-house WELL Accredited Professional, I am ready and excited to help your company evaluate your spaces and operations in order to improve your impact on human health and wellbeing, elevate your ESG practices, and streamline your building certifications. Contact me on LinkedIn or email me today to get started!

Anne Grzywa

Anne Grzywa is Goby’s in-house WELL Accredited Professional. Prior to joining Goby, Anne worked with GBCI as a WELL Certification reviewer, where she reviewed hundreds of projects across various certification phases, trained four cohorts of Performance Testing Agents, and assessed some of the very first WELL Health & Safety Rating applications.

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