Prioritizing WELL Health-Safety Rating in a Post-Pandemic World

After a star-studded campaign for the launch of the International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Health-Safety Rating, we’ve been flooded with questions on how our clients can obtain this new certification. The most trusted organization, backed by world-renowned scientists and now Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Michael B. Jordan, and Robert DeNiro, gathered more than 600 experts to create a Task Force for COVID-19 to create the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management. Now our experts at Epsten Group, Inc. can walk you through how we are helping buildings and organizations address health, safety, and well-being for your occupants.

“Look for the WELL Health-Safety seal to ensure that your favorite places are prepared to keep you healthy and safe as we move towards a return to normal.”

With every seal you see, a QR Code details the measures taken past those doors to keep building occupants safe. The WELL Health-Safety Rating is comprised of 22 measures that strategize how to combat the spread of a virus, from cleaning protocols to assessing air and water quality, all with the goal of ensuring confidence in your guests.

Cost Implications

As a policy-based certification, the WELL Health-Safety Rating is a relatively low-cost program to implement. Many of the items highlighted below are possible things your building is already doing, but we’ll need to add a few modifications. As Cornerstone Members, we pass our reduction in certification fees on to our clients. For most projects, the certification program is a flat fee of a little more than $4,000. And as a small, policy-based certification, the cost to engage with our team of experts is not much more. Unlike the WELL Building Standard, the WELL Health-Safety Rating requires annual recertification, something our team can help walk you through, as well.

Have multiple assets?

The WELL Health-Safety Rating plays perfectly into the already established WELL Portfolio program. Once policies are set, these policies can be applied to an entire suite of locations under the same management. The WELL Portfolio program recognizes that most brands have multiple locations and with multiple partners, so the costs for applying the WELL Health-Safety Rating certification to multiple spaces are taken into consideration. From a consulting standpoint, we help ensure that the policies are written so that they are applicable to each space within your portfolio. And our consulting fees are scalable, as well. With individual building rates starting as low as $400, the WELL Health-Safety Rating is truly a game-changer for those who want to begin their journey in applying health and safety measures while people are still working, learning, shopping from home.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating Scope

The rating system focuses on five main areas: cleaning and sanitizing procedures, emergency preparedness programs, health service resources, air and water quality management, and stakeholder engagement and communication. As experts who have applied the WELL Health-Safety rating to our own space, we know that the Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures are key to providing confidence for guests. The viral load is also reduced by supporting hygienic handwashing practices and reducing the amount of human contact with high-touch surfaces and respiratory particles. Pair this with improved cleaning practices and an approved list of highly effective yet less hazardous cleaning products, and you’re five steps towards certification.

Promote handwashingSupport Handwashing

clean surfacesReduce Surface Contact

Improve Cleaning Practices

WELL Health-Safety RatingSelect Preferred Cleaning Products

WELL Health-Safety RatingReduce Respiratory Particle Exposure

Engaging stakeholders is also a key element for this certification, as we saw many companies scramble to figure out how to work from home without losing productivity. There are several guides within the Emergency Preparedness Programs that set up businesses with a plan. For many companies, we have found that this meant putting the current practices down on paper so everyone knew what to do if there was another emergency, even those beyond a viral pandemic, such as the snowstorms currently affecting Texas and parts of the U.S. that aren’t prepared for freezing temperatures and buckets of snow and ice. Of the five focal points for this certification, none is more important than the plan for healthy re-entry. We are helping our clients ready spaces for re-occupancy after spaces have been vacant, and we are planning for the necessary adjustments to policies, operations, and protocols to support safer and healthier re-entry with the WELL Health-Safety Rating.

WELL Health-Safety Rating Develop Emergency Preparedness Plan

WELL Health-Safety Rating Create Business Continuity Plan

WELL Health-Safety Rating Plan for Healthy Re-Entry

WELL Health-Safety Rating Provide Emergency Resources

WELL Health-Safety Rating Bolster Emergency Resilience

The current pandemic has caused many of us to focus on the resources and benefits we provide to our employees. The Health Service Resources bundle of policies looks to improve these resources to support the overall well-being of individuals and their families. Providing paid sick leave, giving access to health benefits, and supporting mental health recovery are key components to helping us work through the pandemic, but also how we’ll look to support coming back to work, especially for those who have not been able to support their families through this crisis. By promoting vaccinations and a smoke-free environment, we can use our spaces to help take a step in the right direction.

WELL Health-Safety Rating Provide Sick Leave

WELL Health-Safety Rating Provide Health Benefits

WELL Health-Safety Rating Support Mental Health Recovery

WELL Health-Safety Rating Promote Flu Vaccines

WELL Health-Safety Rating Promote a Smoke-Free Environment

For facility and building managers, assessing ventilation and monitoring water quality will be a part of your daily life moving forward. The Air and Water Quality Management section helps form policies for unoccupied buildings for long periods of time. Beyond just mold and bacteria growth that can happen in stagnant buildings, Legionella management is also a key component to re-entry and reducing risk beyond just the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As a virus with known airborne transmission, adequate ventilation of our indoor spaces should be a major focus for every building owner. The WELL Health-Safety Rating prioritizes assessing the highest supply of outdoor air a mechanical system can provide and potential modifications that would be required to increase outdoor air supply while avoiding recirculating air, large increases in energy consumption, and revised maintenance protocols. We even have Legionella experts who can help write a management plan if your space is at risk.

WELL Health-Safety Rating Assess Ventilation

WELL Health-Safety Rating Assess and Maintain Air Treatment Systems

WELL Health-Safety Rating Develop Legionella Management Plan

WELL Health-Safety Rating Monitor Air and Water Quality

WELL Health-Safety Rating Manage Mold and Moisture

Communication in any organization is key, and with an effort to promote health and wellness, understanding the health literacy for building occupants is important. Each person’s cognitive and social ability to access, interpret, and understand basic health information, as well as their ability to act on it, goes a long way towards helping them maintain health. Based on the effects of previous pandemics, the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to have long-lasting physical and mental health impacts. The WELL Health-Safety Rating seeks to engage stakeholders to help promote a better understanding of how the building operations and policies developed for the certification affect the well-being of the occupants.

WELL Health-Safety Rating Promote Health and Wellness

WELL Health-Safety Rating Share Food Inspection Information

We Needed This Yesterday
We hear you. And we’re here to help. Reach out to our experts → in@epstengroup.com and let’s talk through your specific situation, set you up with pricing information, and take you one step closer to acquiring the WELL Health-Safety Rating seal for your own space.

About the Author

Lauren Wallace

Lauren, Principal and Director of Certifications and Consulting, has trained and managed leaders in sustainability and consulting on thousands of inspiring projects. She has been an active member of the sustainable design community for more than ten years and a leading sustainability consultant who is passionate about incorporating sustainable practices throughout the design-build industry. Aligning with the firm’s convictions, she works alongside her clients to integrate widespread sustainability practices, saving them time and money, and ultimately attracting and retaining much-needed talent.

Lauren regularly speaks to large audiences about implementing change in the building industry, focusing on technical information and application. She is a USGBC and WELL Faculty member, the leader of the Epsten Group Wellness Committee, and has spoken on building sustainability and Wellness issues throughout the country. In 2019, she was honored in becoming a LEED Fellow. She is a proud Living Future Accredited professional, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador, Parksmart Advisor, and TRUE Advisor. Lauren is also a WELL Performance Testing Agent and BREEAM USA Assessor.

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