The Challenges of Meeting LEED and WELL Light Standards


HGA Senior Lighting Designer Tao Ham recently presented The Challenge of Meeting LEED and WELL Standards in a Single Project at Lightfair® International, May 10, where she highlighted how Transwestern, a real estate management company, established benchmarks for occupant well-being for its Chicago office. Below are takeaways from her program with co-presenter David Hubka of Transwestern.

The LEED® and WELL Building Standard™ are compatible yet distinct certification programs for achieving sustainable, healthy buildings. Yet specific energy-saving strategies contributing to LEED can come at the expense of WELL. We learned this first-hand with a LEED Platinum office in Chicago, in which meeting the WELL requirements was challenged.

Specifically, under Energy & Atmosphere on the LEED Scorecard (see below), the Owner’s Project Requirements targeted several lighting goals, including:

  • Power Density -- 65 percent power reduction than ASHRAE 2007 using LED fixture.
  • Control -- 95 percent of lights controlled by infrared or ultrasonic occupancy sensors.
  • Lighting Control Commissioning -- Owner training, controllability, interaction with other systems, and ongoing maintenance.

For the WELL Light standards, the project measured the following:

  • Visual Lighting Design
  • Circadian Lighting Design
  • Electric Light Glare Control
  • Solar Glare Control

These measurements focused on the lighting quality relating to human health and visual comfort in lieu of energy performance.


While LEED stresses less energy use, WELL often requires increased energy consumption to achieve ideal lighting levels that promote emotional and physical wellness. Therefore, it is important to balance lighting for environment (LEED) and lighting for people (WELL).


For designers and building owners, the opportunity is to bridge research and best practices to promote balanced solutions. When planning your workplace to meet LEED and WELL Light standards, consider the following:

  • Energy conservation is still the goal.
  • Sustainability and wellness are not only about energy but quality of lighting.
  • Identify the project goals early to balance LEED and WELL.
  • Demand skilled lighting professionals.

Topics: Sustainability & Resiliency, Corporate