The WELL Standard and What it Means for Lighting17.01.2018
Paul Boken, BFA, LC, Vice President, Mulvey & Banani Lighting Inc.
Why the WELL is a long-awaited game changer.
The WELL Building Standard® (WELL) adds a new dimension to the “green” and sustainable” building agenda, bringing focus to the indoor environment’s effect on human health and well-being to a rather myopic preoccupation with energy efficiency based standards.
WELL is the unification of two seemingly divergent worlds, real estate and wellness. Delos and WELL founder, Paul Scialla, describes the standard as “…the world’s first building standard focused exclusively on human health and wellness. It marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research.” A diverse cast weigh in as advisors at Delos: doctors, design professionals, even Hollywood darlings (sustainability advocate Leonardo DiCaprio);
As a lighting design professional, I’m excited about the progression what WELL will inspire, having long been of the opinion that the current industry practice places far too much emphasis on the efficiency side of design, loosing sight of the human aspect. Knowing that the average person now spends more than 90% of their time indoors, understanding how design supports human health is fundamental. The WELL expansion of the scope of sustainability, in harmony with LEED and other green building systems, is a really good thing.
Revitalizing light quality with WELL.
WELL has come along at a critical time for interior lighting. LEED standards and the move to create energy efficient buildings has driven artificial lighting sources to record high efficiency levels. Today, meeting LEED standards is relatively simple from a lighting efficiency perspective, but the background story to this evolution is a dark one. The rush to reduce the power consumption of lighting systems with technology that was not quite up-to-speed meant that lighting designers had to somehow justify lower lighting levels that in turn compromised visual comfort and quality. Shielding, comfort and distribution, were shoved aside, forgotten allies of 50 years of luminaire evolution. Typical luminaires now produce a giant ball of uncontrolled light boasting record levels of efficiency that have left LEED standards in the dust. The new WELL lighting standard is focused squarely on quality- addressing glare, color, distribution, uniformity, contrast, even our sleep cycle (circadian rhythms)- a welcome change, and just in the nick of time.
Why is the timing right?
I feel the WELL is a welcomed shift in perspective at the perfect time, we need a new challenge. We have blown by the old efficiency standards, but in so doing so, we have lost focus on the quality of light. WELL calls us to a new level of challenge and we need to embrace the shift in perspective. In combination with the WELL standards that spell out thirteen separate lighting attributes, turbocharged LED lighting fixtures can be leveraged to create, pleasant feeling, circadian activating, attention keeping, strain relieving, headache reducing, productivity-enhancing interior environments. Crazy? If you had told me I would be lighting offices to 0.35w/ft2, four years ago I would have sniped “with moonlight??”
Well Standard Website:
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Technical Research behind Circadian Light: