Build Better Podcast

WELL: Improving Health and Well-Being with Antonia Ciaverella

Antonia Ciaverella

by Emily Langner

In episode 16 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Antonia Ciaverella EDAC, WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C, Fitwel Ambassador, architectural designer with Tecton Architects. Ciaverella shared the specific ways a company or organization can achieve the WELL certification, the first rating system to focus exclusively on the impacts of buildings on human health and wellness.

Developed by the International Well Building Institute in 2014, WELL is the first global rating system to be centered solely on “the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness.”

Ciaverella says, “The basic fundamental attribute of the WELL building standard is that WELL is for people. While LEED is about the relationship between the building and the environment, WELL is about the relationship between the building occupants and their internal space.”

There are seven concepts included in WELL v1: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. In its pilot phase, WELL v2 adds movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, community, and innovation to the list. While some elements require complex design changes to implement, an organization can make small changes that make an impact on the health of building occupants right away.

Examples include increasing access to fresh air by opening windows or encouraging tenants to step outside of the building and take a walk, providing filtered water by installing bottle fillers or additional water fountains, encouraging healthy food choices by putting fresh fruit and vegetables in plain view while putting candy and unhealthy snacks out of sight, bringing in task lamps and standing desks to give people the option to control their work environment, and rearranging spaces so common areas feature access to windows and outdoor decks.

Less obvious changes include implementing healthy business travel planning by skipping red-eyes and  booking employees on flights that don’t interrupt circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, and including altruistic opportunities for people to take time out to volunteer in their communities.

With studies showing that we now spend 90% of our time indoors, WELL focuses on improving those indoor environments, including office spaces, hospitals, and schools. ”The more you have a healthy work environment that is exposing you to natural daylight, that is encouraging you to get up and exercise throughout the day, and that is providing you with options for healthy food and fresh, filtered drinking water, your whole experience and health and well-being is impacted throughout that 90%,” Ciaverella says.

“We’re on the wave of this new experience-driven, research-based approach to the design process, and I’m excited for that,” says Ciaverella. “When we continue to see that grow over the next decade or so, you’re going to start to see change in the community, in how folks are interacting with each other, how folks are treating each other, and the process of working is going to be drastically different.“ She adds, “As a designer, it’s a huge responsibility and one we all take very seriously, to design these spaces for all individuals to reach their full potential.”

It is free to register your project on WELL v2. Visit to learn more.

Listen to episode 16 now!