Advice in the Pursuit of WELL AP™
Director of Product Education, Vanessa Englert, WELL AP™, LEED®AP, and Director of Sustainability Jarod Brames, LEED Green Associate, WELL AP™ are both associates with a long OFS Brands tenure and a passion for doing things the right way. They both passed the WELL AP test this March. We sat down with them to get some advice for anybody out there considering the pursuit of this achievement.
Why was this so important for you personally to get this certification?
As Director of Sustainability I am frequently asked questions regarding the emissions, chemical content data, and overall impact our furniture products have on human health and well-being as well as the impacts to the environment. Pursuing my WELL AP credential was the perfect opportunity for me to take a deeper dive into all aspects that affect human well-being in the built environment.
I obtained my LEED®AP in 2008 and with jobs specifying the need for green building expertise, the LEED credential is a clear commitment to professional growth. With a renewed industry focus on occupant wellness in the built environment, I wanted to further my professional commitment to sustainability, health and wellness by obtaining my WELL AP. I believe that in addition to LEED and other established design and construction-focused sustainability rating systems, the WELL Building Standard will continue to evolve into a more prominent standard of focus in the future.
Jarod, What did you find most interesting in your WELL education journey?
I probably found it most interesting that Light and Sound can have such an effect on our overall well-being. We are taught from an early age that we are supposed to eat well, get enough sleep and exercise. We also have natural senses that can tell us if the air is stale or the water tastes funny. I don’t feel that it is as obvious or noticeable when bad lighting or sound reverberation and lack of absorption is impacting our moods, internal rhythms and ability to perform at our best.
Vanessa, What would you say to others in the industry wishing to pursue WELL accreditation?
The WELL Building Standard is very impactful in its ability to put people at the center of design, focusing on the benefits our built environment can have on human health and well-being. When I decided to pursue this credential I had many questions – Where do I start? What should I focus on? How do I ensure I’m prepared to pass on my first attempt? For others who may feel it’s important to join this movement, here are some of my suggestions on becoming a WELL AP:
- Spend an adequate amount of time studying the materials. I spent 2 months reading the materials, reviewing flash cards and quizzes, but dedicated the final week prior to my exam to focusing solely on the WELL test prep.
- Memorization is key! I focused on various memorization techniques suggested in the exam preparation guides that were very helpful. Example – 12-34-45-56-65-76-88 is mentioned in a study guide and denotes the features that serve as the cutoff numbers between preconditions and optimizations of the 7 concepts. I also found or created references to remember certain features I had trouble recalling specific information on. Examples – NiCoLe is MeAn with Aresnic. This represents feature 31 inorganic contaminants, part 1 dissolved metals of nickel, copper, lead, mercury, antimony and arsenic. Once I had the reference to the inorganic contaminants themselves memorized, it became easier to memorize mg/L limits of each.
- Ensure that you feel prepared, but don’t overload yourself with too many resources or references. The amount of materials available online can be overwhelming. My suggestion is to focus heavily on the WELL Building Standard, WELL AP Candidate Handbook, and WELL AP Exam Preparation Guide (must purchase) through IWBI, and additional resources available to purchase through GBES (Green Building Education Services) and GBRI (Green Building Research Institute).
- We should put people first. We spend 90% of our time indoors and the buildings where we live, work, learn and relax have a profound effect on our well-being and how we feel. It’s our responsibility to focus on best practices that create the healthiest indoor environments as possible. This is why I chose to become a WELL AP.
Jarod, What has changed about the way you view space after this education?
Before beginning my WELL education I felt I was fairly knowledgeable about how buildings operate and what systems influence occupant health and comfort. After my WELL education, I realized I wasn’t! The WELL Standard does a phenomenal job covering nearly every aspect that could potentially impact the health, comfort and overall well –being of a building’s occupants. It is a standard that provides guidance on how to construct spaces that do much more than providing shelter, work stations and break rooms. It provides guidance on how to construct spaces that are dynamic and truly take care of their occupants.