Meet the building-wellness startup partly backed by Bill Gates and valued at $800M

New York City-based Delos has raised $237M from investors to support its “Well” certification

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

Can a certification for buildings’ wellness become as widespread as the LEED certification of sustainable design?

That is what former Goldman Sachs partner Paul Scialla is betting on as the founder of Delos, a New York City-based startup that is selling a “Well” certification that developers, employers and hotel operators can publicly display in their lobbies and promotional materials, Forbes reports. Features like treadmill desks, easy access to water or the proximity of desks to windows are examples of the types of features Well rewards.

The Well certification is modeled after the LEED standard for green buildings, but unlike the nonprofit administrator of the LEED program, Delos is a for-profit company and charges about $20,000 to evaluate 100,000 square feet of building space for compliance with wellness standards. The LEED-evaluation fee for the same amount of space is $13,000.

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Since its inception in 2000, the LEED program has certified 76,800 projects. So far, Delos has worked in 48 countries and finished 1,555 projects that total 314 million square feet.

Scialla has raised $237 million over the last five years from investors including former Fidelity Magellan fund manager Jeff Vinik and the personal investment office of Bill Gates. The company now has a $800 million valuation. Author Deepak Chopra and actor Leonardo DiCaprio also serve on the Delos board of directors.

Delos is also developing an app called Darwin that individual homeowners can buy for prices starting at $3,500 to determine the wellness of their homes, including quality tests of water and air. Australia-based homebuilder Simonds plans to install Darwin in 1,000 new homes this year, and KB Home is conducting a test of the technology in California.

Well has got some competition, however. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the General Services Administration introduced the Fitwell program in 2017 and assigned the nonprofit Center for Active Design to run it. Fitwell certification costs significantly less than Well at $8,000 for up to 1 million square feet. [Forbes] – Mike Seemuth