A/G’s Bobby Almeida attended the first WELL Performance Testing Agent workshop on at Greenbuild on November 12th and 13th in Chicago. The workshop was taught by GBCI and covered everything necessary to do performance testing in WELL v2, which A/G plans to offer as a service in the near future.
For those not familiar with WELL, it is the leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings globally. Some of the features in the WELL rating system require onsite testing to verify the attributes of the building or space. In WELL v2, only a Performance Testing Agent working for a Performance Testing Organization can perform these onsite tests.
Some of the onsite tests in WELL v2 include air tests for formaldehyde, VOCs, carbon monoxide, ozone, PM2.5 and PM10. All of these contaminants can cause serious health issues, which is why WELL requires testing to determine the concentrations of each. This is where the WELL building standard excels – it requires onsite testing to verify how healthy the building space actually is, with hard thresholds for passing or failing. If you live or work in a WELL certified space you know for sure that the air you breathe is unlikely to be detrimental to your health. To illustrate just how dangerous some of these contaminants are, a study published in 2014 in the British Medical Journal found that an increase of just 5 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of coronary events. A 2005 report from the World Health Organization estimated that in children under 5 years old PM2.5 is responsible for about 3% of mortality from cardiopulmonary disease, about 5% of mortality from cancer of the trachea, bronchus, and lungs, and about 1% of mortality from acute respiratory infections.
In A/G’s home of California there have been numerous devastating fires in the past few years. In November 2018 there was a day where numerous schools in the San Francisco Bay Area were closed due to the poor air quality caused by forest fires. While most people were worried about the air quality and their health, those that live or work in a WELL certified space would have known that they were breathing cleaner air than they would in an average building. If every school was WELL certified, including the performance testing for air quality, maybe it would have been safer for the kids to have been at school learning instead of being forced to stay home.
In addition to air testing, WELL v2 includes testing for water, acoustics, thermal comfort, and light. Ironically, during the acoustical section of the workshop the meeting room next door decided to play a loud video clip, which disrupted the workshop. If the convention center had met the acoustical requirements of WELL certification then the workshop could have moved on without interruption. Everyone has at least one similar experience, but WELL projects that have tested for acoustics may just put an end to that kind of frustration.
Combining all of the testing results will yield a space that truly improves the health and well being of its occupants, from the air they breathe to the water they drink to the light used for work. A/G hopes to perform this testing in the near future and was happy for our staff to learn more in this intensive two-day workshop.