WKU’s Ogden College Hall achieves WELL certification

Science facility becomes first university laboratory building in nation to achieve certification to improve student and faculty health and well-being

WKU’s Ogden College Hall is the first educational laboratory in the United States to achieve WELL v2 Gold Certification by the International WELL Building Institute, maximizing the safety, health and overall wellness of the building’s occupants.

That certification ranks it as the healthiest university lab building in the world.

“We wanted this multi-departmental science building to be student friendly, utilitarian, energy efficient and a healthy environment for work and learning,” WKU Provost Cheryl Stevens said. “We are proud of the final result and look forward to enhanced student learning in its innovative spaces.”

Ogden College Hall opened in 2018, replacing an aging lab building from the 1960s. In addition to a student-focused design of lab and other spaces that provided innovative opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, project stakeholders made student health and wellbeing a priority by seeking a design to meet the WELL Gold standard, even with a tight budget. (More about the project)

Tracy Steward of CMTA Consulting Engineers, who was the WELL Project Administrator and Design Engineering Project Manager, said the WELL standards are usually reserved for office and commercial buildings, but the principles are just as important in educational settings.

“When insurmountable research and data proves time spent in buildings has a direct impact on health and productivity, we need to take action by designing our built environments in an optimal manner,” Steward said. “As humans, our bodies are designed to connect with nature. If we can bring the daylight that supports circadian rhythm, clean air, comfortable space, views of nature or spaces that mimic nature, provide food options where we can actually pronounce the ingredients, then we certainly need to provide that for future generations. By living and working in WELL spaces, the concepts have a proven way to help reduce illness, anxiety and depression, and brighten the outlooks of those who are occupying the space.”

Buildings are scored on a point system and it takes 60 points to become WELL Gold certified.

“Ogden College Hall knocked it out of the park by accumulating 73 points,” Steward said. “The design strategies utilized and established at WKU will be used as the standard moving into 2020.”

Informational displays throughout the building encourage students to consider the numerous benefits of healthy living and enable the building to serve as a teaching tool.

“As a student-centered, applied research university, we are concerned about the total WKU experience,” Dr. Stevens said. “This project is a perfect example of how we can be intentional in how we design our buildings to have the biggest positive impact, physically and mentally, on all occupants, especially our students.”

The $40 million 82,889 square-foot building features 36 laboratories for biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy as well as interdisciplinary research laboratories for materials science, biodiversity and biochemistry; a student success center and advising suite; a 300-seat auditorium; and the dean’s office suite for the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. In addition to research, teaching and lab space, the building includes student lounge/study areas on each floor that encourage collaborative learning.

The “Science on Display” design earned international recognition in the 2018 Shaw Contract Design Awards program in the Higher Education category and the People’s Choice Award.


WKU’s Ogden College Hall has been awarded WELL v2 Gold Certification by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) through rigorous testing and a final evaluation by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which is the third-party certification body for WELL, to ensure it meets all WELL performance requirements.

WELL is focused exclusively on the ways that buildings and communities, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness.

Delivered by IWBI, WELL is a performance-based rating system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of our buildings that impact human health and wellness, through Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community. WELL is grounded in a body of evidence-based research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend approximately 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on the people inside these buildings.


The International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) is leading the global movement to transform our buildings and communities in ways that help people thrive.

IWBI delivers the cutting-edge WELL Building Standard™, the leading global rating system and the first to be focused exclusively on the ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness.


Launched in October 2014 after six years of research and development, the WELL Building Standard is the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness.

WELL was developed by integrating scientific and medical research and literature on environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes and demographic risk factors that affect health with leading practices in building design, construction and management.

The WELL Building Standard underwent a comprehensive expert peer review process, which included three phases – scientific, practitioner and medical review.

WELL Certification and the WELL AP credentialing program are third-party administered through IWBI’s collaboration with Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).

For more IWBI and WELL Certification information, follow the link: https://www.wellcertified.com/press

International WELL Building Institute, IWBI, the WELL Building Standard, WELL v2, WELL Certified, WELL AP, WELL, WELL Portfolio, The WELL Conference, We Are WELL, the WELL Community Standard and others, and their related logos are trademarks or certification marks of International WELL Building Institute pbc in the United States and other countries.

Contact: Bob Skipper at (270) 745-4295 or CMTA Consulting Engineers Media Coordinator Catharine Gardner, cgardner@cmta.com, (502) 326-3085 X 195.

Posted with permission from WKU News