What became startlingly clear was that WELL was only for those with deep pockets and long attention spans. It required an astonishing level of commitment, investigation and additional consultancy support beyond that of a common-or-garden BREEAM certification. In addition, 80% of UK property was constructed before 1980. Trying to achieve a WELL certification on those properties would be an expensive lesson in futility.
To their enormous credit, the International WELL Building Institute spent a lot of time engaging with experienced practitioners like myself and, in response to our feedback, released Version 2 in 2018, addressing many of the teething problems, watering down or removing some of the more outrageous time-sinks and money-pits.
By the end of 2017, a new kid, named Fitwel, appeared on the block. Increased awareness and desire for healthier buildings generated by WELL’s prolific PR had created a desire for a wellbeing standard that could be applied to any property of any age and condition, not just the slick and shiny Grade-A city monoliths.
Fitwel fits that brief beautifully, which is down to its origins with the US government’s estates department, the General Services Administration. Devised for application to any property, regardless of its age, condition, location or demographic, property owners are now able to focus on what’s possible within their immediate budget, and make progress towards more stretching initiatives over time.