Because humans spend 90% of their time in buildings, where their health and lives are shaped – my year as a concept advisor for the WELL Building Standard

2019.05.09 International Well Building Institute, New York, NY USA 134 12019
With Rose Winer, WELL Faculty Director, Community Concept Lead, Standard Development, International WELL Building Institute, New York, NY USA 134 12019 (View on

I am in a group of doctors that I’d say practice “boundless medicine,” meaning, we go to the places where health is produced.

My rationale for joining the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) (@WELLCertified) Global Network of Concept Advisors is laid out in this blog post I wrote when I joined.

See: Joining the IWBI Global Network of Concept Advisories | International WELL Building Institute – WELL Community Concept advisory – Ted Eytan, MD

Joining the IWBI Global Network of Concept Advisories | International WELL Building Institute – WELL Community Concept advisory


  • An architect or designer may have as much impact on health, if not more than a physician, and for this reason
  • Doctors love designers

I completed my service as a (volunteer) WELL Community Concept advisor at the end of June, 2019 and saw great movement forward in the standard during my tenure that I’m sharing here 🙂 🙂 🙂

Universal Design and access to public facilities for all humans, specifically transgender people

The standard now includes provisions for accommodation of people of all genders.

Bathroom Accommodations

* Provide bathrooms that support the needs of all individuals.
* For All Spaces except Dwelling Units
* Single-user bathrooms meet the following requirements:
* Meet local accessibility code without exclusions or exemptions.
* Meet occupant demand in quantity and location based on size of project (to ensure bathrooms are conveniently located for all occupants).
* Includes sign or label with text and/or symbols to indicate that the room is a bathroom and that it is inclusive of all genders.

* Provide the following:
* Toilet paper.
* Trash receptacle.
* Sanitary pads and/or tampons at no cost or subsidized by at least 50%.

Standard – WELL V2 – Community Feature C14 – Accessed 7/17/19

This is especially heartening given that WELL is a global standard. In addition to consulting our advisory, the IWBI team also consulted several other national/international experts in the field.

I tell people I will never ever know what it’s like to be transgender, therefore the best source of information is from people with lived experience. Kudos to IWBI from going to, and respecting the best source(s).

I don’t know that we’ll see signs like this everywhere (it’s my favorite of all), however, the message is the same, all genders respected and represented.

Transgender Bathroom Awareness Poster lgbtplusbristol 50079
Transgender Bathroom Awareness Poster lgbtplusbristol 50079 (View on

As an aside, and separately from my service here, a global team of collaborators came together to successfully (I think, cross fingers) add the transgender pride flag symbol to the global emoji character set. It’s all the same idea – go to where health is influenced and design a 🌎 that learns to ❤️ better. Boundless.

Transgender Pride Flag Emoji – Adopted by Unicode January, 2020 – Information for Media

Metabolic Health – Food environment, access to nutrient dense, unprocessed food

The standard, in my opinion, has evolved in a good way, promoting sound principles around the food environment. This is super challenging given that the standard is global and the the principles are changing…

It’s interesting to me to compare what I said my interest was a year ago to now. Insulin resistance is still a problem, however/and, there has been much more dialogue about the causes, such as the role of processed food, as well as data that shows how poor the metabolic health of Americans is.

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD-1001-620
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD-1001-620 (View on

WELL supports healthy eating patterns by increasing access to healthier food and beverage choices, limiting access to highly processed foods and ingredients and designing environments that nudge individuals toward healthier choices.

Standard – WELL V2 – Community Feature C14 – Accessed 7/17/19

The standard also does a good job of not promoting what is unsupported by science, the low fat diet. In the last year, the most notable international experts in the field, some of them academic rivals, have pronounced this diet dead, multiple times. Here’s their latest writing on the topic.

Not a product endorsement

My relevant disclaimers/disclosures are here. No promotion of third party products or services, no ties (financial or otherwise) to industry. Look me up in the database(s) of your choice.

I enjoyed working with the other volunteer advisors, on my own time, using my own resources, with the understanding that the standard is a product that’s sold in the real estate market, as many well known standards are, e.g. LEED.

When I was in New York recently (also on my own time, using my own resources, it’s a theme), I got to visit the IWBI offices, because if they’re developing the standard, they should be a best practice… my photos are below.

Product or not, the science behind the concepts are publicly available on the IWBI site, and I recommend a review to anyone who wants to learn more about healthy environment / culture of health. Beyond the two areas I focused on, the standard covers a wide swath of behaviors and elements inside of buildings and the communities around them.

Aren’t we lucky as health professionals to have so many individuals and organizations around us leveraging their talents to help our patients and communities succeed in health and life?

For these times I say, “the future arrived and it’s as awesome as I thought it would be.”

Ted Eytan, MD