Danielle Swenson, Sustainable Building Design Consultant and WELL Accredited Professional 

The Well Ratings: a Targeted Commitment to Occupant Health and Wellbeing

The evolution of wellbeing from simply a buzzword a decade ago to its explosion as a guiding principle post-pandemic has produced a remarkable shift in the real estate industry. In terms of how sustainability is addressed in the sector, the focus is no longer solely on the “brick and mortar” of physical assets, but also on their social impact. The International WELL Building Institute recognized the need for smart, green buildings to be complemented by the health and wellbeing of the occupants that inhabit them by creating the highly esteemed WELL Building Standard in 2013. Known for its impressive rigor that is unmatched in the market of wellbeing-focused building certifications, its comprehensive and detailed approach is essential for achieving a gamut of sustainability goals.1 However, it can potentially lack flexibility for real estate fund managers seeking to make meaningful changes for occupant health and wellbeing at a lower upfront cost, reduced resource commitment, or more streamlined scope.

The three WELL Ratings – Health-Safety, Performance, and Equity – launched in recent years by the IWBI, address this gap in WELL Certification, making it possible for interested parties to target subsets of the full WELL Building Standard according to their specific needs and objectives. All features in the WELL Ratings come directly from the WELL Building Standard, so an added advantage to achieving any or all three ratings means that the given asset will be one step closer to reaching WELL v2 Certification. In addition, a WELL-certified or WELL-rated asset earns full or partial points, respectively, towards GRESB scoring. At Longevity Partners, we have taken a deep dive into each WELL Rating to determine their value for real estate fund managers.



The WELL Health-Safety Rating

With its foundation rooted in addressing pressing health and safety concerns as a response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the WELL Health-Safety Rating (HSR) has gained the most traction among the various ratings. The combined facts that people spend on average 90% of their time indoors and that the transmission of infectious diseases predominantly occurs in enclosed environments means that human health is intrinsically linked to the design and operation of buildings. The features of the WELL Health-Safety Rating confront a wide range of risks, responding to both acute scenarios and mitigating risk long-term through features like the development of an Emergency Preparedness Plan and preventative strategies such as reducing hand contact with high-touch surfaces.

WELL HSR is particularly focused on operations and management policies, procedures, and protocols, such that it is ideal for existing buildings. Notably, performance testing is not obligatory to achieve this rating, making it a feasible and impactful solution for any building type. Its attention to providing health service resources make it suitable for any business with a large workforce of permanent employees or staff. Also, any building type that experiences high traffic and interaction of individuals in shared spaces can benefit greatly, as it emphasizes proper cleaning practices and air treatment systems.[1] WELL HSR may be particularly interesting for assets pursuing BREEAM In-Use, since the IWBI and the BRE have collaborated to facilitate dual certification by creating an aligned pathway between the two certifications.[2]

The WELL Performance Rating

The primary objective of the WELL Performance Rating is to improve the quality of the indoor environment by tracking occupant satisfaction and building performance. The majority of features selected from the WELL Building Standard for this rating are more technical, requiring verification through onsite performance testing, data collection from sensor technology, and ongoing data reports. The WELL Performance Rating addresses the concern that even if building systems are designed to achieve efficiencies, they will not have the intended impact if those systems aren’t functioning at optimal performance. Office buildings, where occupants are generally in fixed spaces for extended periods of time, would significantly benefit from this rating, as these occupants are affected day-to-day by indoor air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, and acoustics, and can provide valuable feedback about their experience.[3]

The WELL Performance Rating provides a credible and thorough verification approach for investors in real estate demanding greater responsibility from businesses and seeking to future-proof developments to stay at or above industry benchmarks. It is important to note that for IWBI-based certifications, third-party performance verification must be carried out by a certified WELL Performance Testing Agent from an approved WELL Performance Testing Organization, rather than another outside, third-party organization.[4]

The WELL Equity Rating

The WELL Equity Rating is favourable for stakeholders who want to prioritize DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusivity – of marginalized groups, and who recognize that social responsibility and ethical business practices are paramount to success. This rating provides a structured framework for businesses to offer access and support to employees in workplaces, thereby promoting wellbeing for all and increasing retention.

At Longevity Partners, our Social Impact team facilitates the WELL Equity Rating, which can be pursued not only by property owners, but also any company that aims to improve their workplace environment. Many features in this rating concern the operation and management of businesses, such as following responsible hiring practices, providing programs and services that support unique needs such as new mothers or individuals with food sensitivities, and collecting feedback from employees. However, there are also a number of design measures that can be incorporated into new construction, such as the provision of restorative and physical activity spaces, as well as accessible and universal designs for people with disabilities.[5]


With a team of experts in sustainable design and green building certifications, including WELL Accredited Professionals, Longevity Partners can provide valuable insight on the type of certification best suited to your asset’s needs. Working with a WELL AP not only provides guidance and expertise throughout the certification process but also allows your asset to earn one point towards certification. Please contact Eric Coll Costa, Associate Director for In-Use Certifications at ecc@longevity.co.uk or Sophie Hazza, Consultant and Business Development Manager at sh@longevity.co.uk, for more information.

1The WELL v2 Certification concepts include air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community.  



[1] https://v2.wellcertified.com/en/health-safety/overview

[2] https://files.bregroup.com/breeam/breeam-usa/BREEAM-In-Use-Health-Safety-Rating-Alignment-Pathway-April-2021.pdf?_its=JTdCJTIydmlkJTIyJTNBJTIyOTMyNzIwOTQtYjRjYi00M2YzLWI3ZTMtNDk4YTg0NmE1MGI2JTIyJTJDJTIyc3RhdGUlMjIlM0ElMjJybHR%2BMTY5NjU1MDQwMX5sYW5kfjJfNzc4NzlfZGlyZWN0X2UwMjAxYzY5Y2Y1NTM1NTAxNzc5YTEzM2U4MTA4NGE0JTIyJTJDJTIyc2l0ZUlkJTIyJTNBOTgwMCU3RA%3D%3D

[3] https://v2.wellcertified.com/en/performance-rating/overview

[4] https://a.storyblok.com/f/52232/x/79f643341f/well-performance-verification-guidebook_q3-2023_final.pdf

[5] https://v2.wellcertified.com/en/equity-rating/overview



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