WELL Concept #2: Water

WELL Concept #2: Water

Delivery of clean drinking water, a privilege many of us take for granted, is a primary function of modern building systems. It is also one of the seven foundational concepts of the WELL Building Standard® for optimizing human health and well-being. In this new installment we explore WELL for Water, which provides criteria for clean drinking water and prescribes actions that can be taken to ensure a building meets or exceeds the standard.
WELL for Water comprises eight features, five of which are preconditions for achieving the basic Silver Standard. Incorporating EPA standards, WELL preconditions set limits on pollutants that can cause harm to human health. These include thresholds for:
  • Fundamental water quality, restricting the amount of sediment and microorganisms that can be present
  • Inorganic contaminants from dissolved heavy metals such as lead, mercury and copper
  • Organic chemicals including benzene, styrene and others
  • Agricultural effluences—herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers—from run off
  • Public water additives like fluoride and chlorine that can be toxic at high levels
A full list of water contaminants and limits is available in the WELL Building Standard.

Optimization features, required for higher-level WELL Gold or Platinum certification, seek to improve water quality beyond the prerequisite safety standards and promote increased water consumption. These include periodic testing and tracking, with quarterly testing for certain heavy metals; and preventative treatment and planning using sophisticated filtration systems and UV processes to safeguard the water supply and protect against pathogens such as Legionella.

Given the importance of hydration to human health, WELL also establishes measures for drinking water promotion. Included in this optimization are taste requirements, achieved by further restricting the levels of metals, minerals and additives; drinking water access, with at least one dispenser (sink, water fountain or bottle filling station) required within 100 feet of all parts of a regularly occupied space; and dispenser cleaning and maintenance—daily to prevent lime and calcium build up on mouthpieces, guards and basins, and quarterly to remove debris and sediment on outlet screens and aerators.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into WELL for Water, please email me directly.

To view past installments in our WELL Building Standard series, please click here.


Wishing you WELL,
Bruce Lilker, PE, LEED® AP,  WELL AP

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