Are Green Apartments Good Enough?

The new WELL Building Standard emphasizes health.

Diana-120x150I had the pleasure of interviewing thought leader Jonathan F.P. Rose, founder and president of Jonathan Rose Companies LLC and vice chair of Enterprise Community Partners for this month’s Executive Insight. Even before visiting the Bronx to tour the ultra green Via Verde (winner of Best Affordable category, 2012 MHN Excellence Awards), I was a huge admirer of both organizations for their pioneering work in the socially responsible real estate development movement. Via Verde co-developers Phipps Houses and Jonathan Rose Companies, in partnership with Dattner Architects and Grimshaw, have created an impressive green-living template that raises the bar for multifamily architecture and development. Via Verde is designed to exceed LEED Gold standards by utilizing low-tech strategies such as solar shading, cross ventilation, photovoltaic panels and high-efficiency mechanical systems. These strategies have been quicker to gain acceptance by affordable developers; now market-rate needs to pick up its pace. But being green is no longer the pinnacle of success. There’s an interesting new standard called the WELL Building Standard that has just raised its visibility thanks to a formal collaboration between its administrator, The International WELL Building Institute, and the Green Building Certification Insititute (GBCI)—an organization headed by U.S. Green Building Council President, CEO and Founding Chairman Rick Fedrizzi. The WELL Building Standard is an evidence-based standard created through six years of research and development with researchers and physicians from leading medical instituitions and expert practitioners from the building industry. Endorsed by the Clinton Global Initiative, the WELL Building Standard is currently in pilot phase and it applies to commercial, residential and institutional projects. It sets performance requirements in seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The new collaboration will streamline how LEED and WELL work together and seek to demonstrate that green building and health and wellness go hand in hand. A key aspect of the collaboration is that GBCI will provide third-party certification for the WELL Building Standard. During my conversation with Rose, the focus frequently returned to the health benefits of green buildings—a topic that clearly falls within his area of expertise. Is this topic coming up within your organization? Do you think we need a new set of health standards in addition to LEED? Email your comments to me at

Diana Mosher, Editorial Director