Points of Pride: Celebrating our WELL Health-Safety Rating

Written By: Katherine Osterman, WELL Certification Team Lead

Healthy buildings are important for all of us. Leading research has shown the vital connection between our built environment and our health and wellness. Perhaps you have known this for a decade or maybe this is brand new to you. The question is: How can we make changes and adjustments to create healthier spaces? Now more than ever, healthy buildings need to be prioritized. We are walking through buildings in a post-pandemic world. We have seen the impacts of poor indoor air quality, close contact work areas, and lacking health benefits to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Knowing that the places that we frequent regularly are safe and healthy spaces is essential. To prioritize this, Catalyst Partners is proud to announce that our own headquarters office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has achieved the WELL Health-Safety Rating!

At the start of the pandemic, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) developed the WELL Health-Safety Rating (HSR) as a response to the need for more transparency around achieving safer and healthier spaces. The WELL Health-Safety Rating is a subset of features from the WELL Building Standard (WELL) that specifically focuses on and contributes to the safety of occupants in buildings and long-term health support and awareness. This annual rating is comprised of five main strategies: Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures, Emergency Preparedness Programs, Health Service Resources, Air and Water Quality Management, and Stakeholder Engagement and Communication. While the rating includes 22 possible features, a project must meet a minimum of 15 features to earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating seal. Putting our work into practice personally, Catalyst Partners has earned the rating by achieving 17 of the 22 features.

Due to our mission, many of the healthy practices were already in place, but we are excited to share externally what we are already doing internally and subsequently set the bar higher for further improvements. We work hard to practice, vetting and implementing for ourselves, anything we would recommend to our clients. As such, we also recently renewed our JUST label to demonstrate transparency around social justice and equity within our company. (Learn more about our JUST Label in our other story – Points of Pride: Celebrating our Just Label Renewal.)

Additionally, you may recall that our office had previously achieved triple Platinum LEED Certifications. In 2012, we first achieved LEED Platinum certification under LEED v2.2 New Construction & Major Renovation. To demonstrate continued performance, the headquarters office earned LEED O+M for Existing Buildings v4 Platinum certification in 2019. And then, just last summer, we achieved Platinum recertification with LEED O+M for Existing Buildings v4.1. Continuing that momentum, we began to use our own office as a testing ground for WELL services, starting with the WELL Health-Safety Rating.

Having achieved LEED Certifications previously greatly aided in achieving some of the WELL Health-Safety Rating features. The WELL and LEED certifications are partners in many ways and alignment tools or crosswalks can help to show where a LEED credit might contribute to or be equivalent to a WELL feature. One of our first steps was to review the WELL v2 pilot / LEED O+M: Existing Buildings crosswalk as well as the alignment between HSR and WELL v2 pilot to see where our efforts would be most effective. With that, we were able to achieve HSR feature: SH5 Promote a Smoke-Free Environment based on our achievement of LEED v4.1 O+M Credit: EQp Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control. We also achieved an innovation feature for achieving a WELL feature – A12 Air Filtration – through the achievement of LEED v4.1 O+M Credit: EQc Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies. Although not directly equivalent, our LEED Green Cleaning Policy did form as a strong starting point for our HSR feature – Improve Cleaning Practices.

We take tremendous pride in achieving nearly every feature in the Health Service Resources strategy. This strategy area focuses on how individual actions impact the workplace and providing services and support for employees’ individual health. Catalyst Partners is proud to provide all employees with robust health benefits including access to essential health services, screenings, and assessments as well as mental health services and resources. We also promote a smoke-free environment and the importance of vaccines for our employees.

The Air and Water Quality Management strategy area was another admirable category. This was particularly an area where we were already really in tune with our water system, HVAC equipment, and the whole building. However, we made a stronger commitment going forward by formally writing the plans for Legionella management, mold and moisture inspections, assessing our ventilation system through WELL’s scope, and committing to air and water testing. Moreover, we could only have achieved these features through collaboration. Our WELL team and our Building Performance team worked together to bridge any personal knowledge gaps and devised healthier building management plans going forward.

At Catalyst Partners, we are committed to collaboration and continuous improvement. We are partners in improving our built environment for a healthier, safer, and more sustainable world. The WELL Health-Safety Rating was the first step of our health and wellness journey, although it will certainly not be our last. Catalyst Partners is here to partner with you on your wellness journey. If you are curious or ready to take the next steps, our team of consultants can collaborate with you to find your path for healthier spaces.


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