Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet
Within buildings ADA and wayfinding signage is used to communicate and inform. Additionally, when used effectively, signs meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and enhance occupants’ experience. Within WELL certified buildings, WELL signage is a powerful tool for promoting human health and wellbeing and has significant overlap with the traditional sign applications in which Green Dot Sign® specializes. So, we set out to learn more about signage within the WELL framework.
We first researched the WELL v2 Building Standard to learn about the background of WELL and every application of signage within the current WELL Building Standard. We discovered that an intentional WELL signage system can be used in up to eight WELL preconditions and 37 WELL optimization points. Furthermore, third party verification of a sign system’s material ingredients is a component of the WELL building framework. This means Declare Labels and Health Product Declarations (HPD’s) can be a benefit to International WELL Building Standard™ projects.
Next, we surveyed AECO professionals about their preferences and perceptions of WELL signage. Responses revealed that signage has an important role within WELL buildings, and to be effective, signs must be easy to understand and visually appealing. Additionally, most survey respondents agreed that material transparency and product sustainability are important to them.
Survey research findings provide data-based motivation for incorporating signs that enhance occupants’ experience into all buildings, whether or not they are seeking WELL certification. To make it easier for teams to design and implement health and wellbeing focused sign systems we are creating a WELL Signage Guide for distribution later this year.
The WELL building standard promotes human health and wellbeing and seeks to transform buildings and organizations around the world in order to help people and communities thrive. This building standard provides a roadmap for improving air, water, and light quality and it recognizes that sustainable building elements impact occupants. Based on collaborative, scientific research it sets design and operations performance standards fostering a positive culture.
The WELL framework is managed and administered through the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI™) and third-party certified by the Green Business Certification Incorporation (GBCI), which also administers the USGBC LEED® program. The first WELL standard, WELL v1, launched on October 24, 2014, and the current WELL v2 was released in 2020. WELL v2 uses ten concepts, or areas, impacting human health: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind, and community. Each concept has eight required preconditions and 37 optimizations that earn additional certification points. Depending upon the number of points earned a building can achieve Silver, Gold or Platinum Certification.
WELL is growing internationally as more workplaces seek to reduce employee stress and improve talent attraction and retention. WELL is in use by over 4,000 projects in more than 60 countries and across the U.S.. These projects encompass over half a billon square feet of real estate.
In July 2021 Green Dot Sign surveyed thirty AECO industry professionals about their sign preferences and perceptions of WELL signs. Survey participants were primarily recruited through LinkedIn and the Green Dot Sign® email newsletter. A tree was planted for each completed survey through onetreeplanted.org.
To varying degrees, all survey respondents agreed that signage is an important component of WELL buildings. The majority of participants, 57%, strongly agreed that signage is an integral aspect of their WELL projects.
In the survey, 80% of respondents agreed that they would specify or purchase eco-friendly signage. Only one respondent was uninterested in eco-friendly signage.
Most AECO professionals prefer to know their signs’ material composition. A sign’s material ingredients are not less important than its appearance according to 80% of respondents.
Similarly to eco-friendly specs, 90% of AECO professionals surveyed agreed that FSC® 100% signage and a Red List Declare Label certification is desirable. Only three participants were neutral on whether or not a Declare Label would make them more likely to select a particular sign option.
Trouble finding sign suppliers that understand the WELL building framework was reported by 38% of respondents. Another 44% were neutral regarding if it is difficult to find a supplier familiar with WELL.
In our survey 48% of respondents would like to submit custom sign designs. This was balanced by another 38% which provided a neutral response and 10% without a desire to submit their own sign designs.
Several themes emerged from detailed feedback on five WELL sign designs. First, signs should contain more graphics and less text. Although, for clarity sometimes words should be spelled out and symbols should not be used. Last, signs should be visually appealing with nice typography, attractive colors and uniform design throughout a signage package.
The number of respondents likely to use any particular sign message in their WELL building varies from 63% to 40% with the “Hydrate” sign being the most likely to be used and the “Walking Loop” WELL sign the least likely to be used in a building project.
The WELL Building Standard is an inspiring and actionable solution that improves health and wellbeing. In today’s health conscious world a building with a WELL certification seal attracts individuals to its clean and accessible space. By nature, signs attract attention and within a WELL building thoughtful signage guides occupants to use and appreciate building features. As the WELL framework continues to grow in popularity, together we can make buildings with signs that are better for people and our planet.