Becoming a WELL Accredited Professional

It’s no secret that I am a lover of ‘Wellbeing in the workplace’. I am constantly reading about new and interesting ways to promote it, attending events and talks about better air quality and debates on the business case for healthier buildings. So, when the opportunity to become a WELL Accredited Professional came my way, I jumped at the chance.

If you have not heard of the WELL Building Standard by now – where have you been? Coming out of the USA in 2014, at heart of the standard is people – how to design our buildings to better impact the occupant’s health. Such as BREAM and LEED focus on creating more sustainable and economical buildings, WELL focuses on ‘Salutogenesis– designing for better health, not merely reducing impact on health’.

In order to help our clients, achieve a WELL Building certification, a project team needs to be headed by a WELL AP (Accredited Professional). This is a building industry professional who is knowledgeable on the conceptual and applied framework of WELL and are experience in its application (basically a WELL guru). The test and revision process to become a WELL AP is one I shall never forget – the panic, the fear, the numbers, the acronyms, the jargon.

There were certain areas that came easy to me – incorporating nature into the design, encouraging movement throughout the space, placement of foods in the canteen, inclusion of areas for mindfulness etc… The areas that were alien to me were the HVAC systems, the envelope commissioning, the LRV values, the DB values, the NRC values. Each different abbreviation had a different percentage that went along side it, and each percentage was different, depending on what surface the abbreviation was referring to. Confusing, hey.

Luckily for me, a colleague saw me suffering as I tried to teach myself the basic mechanics of UVGI filters and stepped in to help. This was a huge turning point in my revision process, as I was able to have my work checked – I was teaching myself the right thing! Our weekly sessions were so helpful, and I could always grab him to help explain window to wall ratios if I had worked myself into a rut.

Finally, I was ready for the exam. I had done every practice test I could get my hands on, had people in the office quiz me from my revision cards and had been triple checking the different percentages and allowed quantities of PM 1.0 vs PM 2.5. At the testing centre I had to check myself in, remove all jewellery (bracelet, earrings, necklace), show photo ID and be escorted in and out of the room – that wasn’t good for the nerves. You find out if you have passed or not on the day – there and then, yes or no. The relief once I saw the big green circle was immense, I felt like running out of the building and throwing my guidebook into the air.

Passing this accreditation was such an accomplishment for me and I am incredibly proud of myself for doing so. The colleague who helped me through each step was a huge help and I can say for a fact I would not have passed it without his help. I am extremely excited to use the frameworks I learnt with WELL to help our clients design their offices for better health, not merely reducing impact on health.

By Saskia Lorrison, Workplace Consultant 


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