216 Mass Ave WELL Certification


The Northeastern Planning, Real Estate, and Facilities office at 216 Massachusetts Avenue is doing well. Actually, they’re doing WELL – a certification that is raising the standard for human health and wellbeing in buildings. The WELL certification is the culmination of a two-year process renovating the first and second floors of 216 Mass Ave, the old Christian Science publishing house, into the new home for Northeastern Planning, Real Estate, and Facilities.  

You may have heard of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), another common building certification. LEED certification focuses on environmental impact and sustainability, whereas WELL certification is centered around the health and wellness of occupants. Similar to LEED, WELL also considers levels of certification; the first and second floors of 216 Mass Ave achieved WELL Silver certification. 

WELL certification includes requirements for air and water quality, healthy building materials, lighting, and comfort. “The quality of the air in the space at 216 [Mass Ave], along with many other spaces on campus, is held to a high standard” said Omar Malkawi, project manager for the renovation. “We had to get a very low particulate count in the air… The quality of the lights we bought for this space and the color spectrum and the brightness they produce is something that was above other spaces.”   

WELL requirements were considered at every step of the process, and the project team worked with a WELL consultant to ensure they stayed on track. “All the decisions made in terms of what materials we used, or how we layout the space, even what furniture we bought, were affected by the WELL certification,” Malkawi said. For example, all the desks and chairs in the office are adjustable to accommodate the staff. This provides opportunities for users to not only maximize their own comfort within the office space but also receive improved health benefits, such as by standing at their desks.  


The process of achieving WELL certification has also been an educational experience for the project team. Malkawi emphasizes that to achieve certification, one needs to think critically about the conditions of our everyday lives and be willing to learn more about how those conditions can be improved. “Give the spaces you spend the most time in some thought,” Malkawi said. “What’s the quality of the air I breathe in my home? What’s the quality of water I’m drinking every day? Ask questions and advocate for your safety and your health.” 

The certification of 216 Mass Ave serves as a reminder that we can always be doing more to improve the health and overall well-being of building occupants, and Northeastern is taking extra steps to do so on projects all over the global campuses.  

Written by Adam Doucette and Daria Healey, November 2nd, 2022
Photos by Alex Gritsinin, 2022

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