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December 25

Fitwel Certification- A Complete Guide

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Fitwel is a certification system that evaluates and rates buildings’ health and wellness features.

Fitwel Certification was developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA) in collaboration with experts in public health and building design. The certification is managed by the Center for Active Design (CfAD), a non-profit organization that promotes health and well-being in the built environment.

Fitwel is designed to help building owners and operators improve the health and well-being of occupants through design, construction, and operational strategies.

Fitwel certification is based on a set of evidence-based design and operational strategies that have been shown to improve the health and well-being of building occupants.

The seven FITWEL health impact categories are as follows:

The seven FITWEL health impact categories are designed to help measure and improve the health and wellness of building occupants and the surrounding community.

  • Impacts Surrounding Community Health: This category measures how a building’s design and operations positively impact the surrounding community’s health. This can include the availability of public transportation and walkability, as well as access to healthy foods and public spaces for physical activity.
  • Reduces Morbidity and Absenteeism: This category measures how a building’s design and operations reduce illness and absenteeism among occupants. This can include things like the provision of clean indoor air, access to natural light, and the availability of hand-washing facilities.
  • Supports Social Equity for Vulnerable Populations: This category measures how a building’s design and operations support the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities or low-income individuals. This can include things like the provision of accessible features, like ramps and elevators, and the availability of affordable healthy food options.
  • Instills Feelings of Well-Being: This category measures how a building’s design and operations promote well-being and comfort among building occupants. This can include the availability of natural light, access to nature, and the provision of quiet spaces for relaxation.
  • Enhances Access to Healthy Foods: This category measures how a building’s design and operations improve access to healthy food options for building occupants. This can include the availability of on-site food vendors offering healthy choices and providing kitchen facilities for employees to bring in their healthy meals.
  • Promotes Occupant Safety: This category measures the extent to which a building’s design and operations promote the safety of building occupants. This can include the provision of emergency lighting and fire suppression systems and the availability of safe and well-lit pedestrian routes.
  • Increases Physical Activity: This category measures the extent to which a building’s design and operations increase physical activity among building occupants. This can include the availability of on-site fitness facilities and bike storage, and showers for employees who cycle to work.

To obtain Fitwel certification, a building must meet a certain number of credits in each category. The number of credits required depends on the size and type of the building.

In addition to the seven core categories, Fitwel has several optional categories that buildings can pursue. These optional categories cover other health and wellness strategies that may be of particular interest or relevance to a specific building.

Which buildings can achieve Fitwel certification?

Fitwel offers certification for a range of building types, including:

  1. Office buildings: Fitwel certification is available for office buildings of all sizes, including single-tenant and multi-tenant buildings.
  2. Residential buildings: Fitwel certification is available for multi-family residential buildings, including apartments, condominiums, and dormitories.
  3. Schools: Fitwel certification is available for educational facilities at all levels, including primary schools, secondary schools, and universities.
  4. Healthcare facilities: Fitwel certification is available for healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
  5. Retail and hospitality buildings: Fitwel certification is available for retail and hospitality buildings, including hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers.
  6. Community centers: Fitwel certification is available for community centers, including libraries, recreation centers, and museums.
  7. Industrial buildings: Fitwel certification, including warehouses and manufacturing facilities, is available for industrial buildings.
  8. Mixed-use buildings: Fitwel certification is available for mixed-use buildings, which combine multiple uses, such as residential, office, and retail.

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What are the benefits of achieving Fitwel Certification?

Achieving Fitwel certification can provide several benefits for building owners and operators. These benefits include:

  • Improved occupant health and well-being: By meeting the standards, a building is more likely to promote the health and well-being of its occupants. This can increase productivity, lower absenteeism, and have other positive outcomes.
  • Increased tenant satisfaction: Tenants are increasingly looking for healthy, sustainable buildings to live and work in. Obtaining Fitwel certification can make a building more attractive to potential tenants.
  • Enhanced reputation: Fitwel certification is a widely recognized and respected credential in the building industry. This certification can enhance a building’s reputation and differentiate it from competitors.
  • Potential cost savings: Implementing the strategies required for certification can lead to cost savings in areas such as energy consumption, water use, and maintenance.
  • Improved compliance with regulations and standards: Fitwel certification can help buildings meet local, state, and federal regulations and standards for occupant health and well-being.

Overall, achieving certification can provide numerous benefits that can improve the performance and value of a building. It’s essential to carefully consider the potential benefits of accreditation and weigh them against the costs and resources required to achieve it.

Some Fitwel successful stories

Here are a few examples of notable Fitwel-certified projects:

  • The Tower at PNC Plaza in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: This building, developed by PNC Financial Services, is a LEED Platinum-certified office tower that achieved Fitwel 3-Star certification. The building features various health and wellness features, including a fitness center, a rooftop garden, and a healthy food program.
  • First Federal Plaza in Chicago, Illinois: This building, developed by First Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, achieved Fitwel 3-Star certification. The building features various health and wellness features, including a fitness center, a healthy food program, and a green roof.
  • The Edge in Amsterdam, Netherlands: This building, developed by OVG Real Estate, is a LEED Platinum-certified office building that achieved Fitwel 3-Star certification. The building features various health and wellness features, including a fitness center, a healthy food program, and a green roof.

These are just a few examples of Fitwel-certified projects that have achieved notable success. Many other Fitwel-certified buildings worldwide have also achieved success in different ways.

How hard is it to achieve Fitwel certification?

The difficulty of achieving Fitwel certification will depend on several factors, including the size and type of your building, the existing sustainability features of your building, and your resources and commitment to meeting the Fitwel standards.

In general, achieving certification requires a significant investment of time and resources. To obtain certification, a building must meet a certain number of credits in each of the seven categories of the Fitwel standard: nutritious food options, physical activity opportunities, clean indoor air, quality lighting, thermal comfort, acoustic comfort, and safe and secure environments. The number of credits required depends on the size and type of the building.

To prepare for certification, you must assess your building to identify any areas that need improvement. You will then need to develop and implement a plan to address these areas, which may involve making physical changes to the building or implementing new operational policies and procedures. You will also need to document your efforts and provide evidence of compliance with the Fitwel standards.

Overall, achieving certification requires significant time, resources, and effort. However, the benefits of certification, such as improved occupant health and well-being, increased tenant satisfaction, and enhanced reputation, can make it a worthwhile investment.

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How long it takes to certify Fitwel?

The length of time it takes to certify a building as Fitwel will depend on several factors, including the size and complexity of the building, the extent of improvements needed to meet the standards, and the resources and commitment available to achieve certification.

The Fitwel certification process generally involves several steps, including an initial assessment of the building’s compliance with the standards, the development and implementation of a plan to address any deficiencies, and a verification assessment to confirm that the facility meets the standards.

The time required to complete each of these steps can vary widely depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the building. For example, the initial assessment may take several days to a week or more to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the building. Implementing the improvement plan may take several weeks to months, depending on the scope and available resources.

Overall, the time it takes to certify a building as Fitwel can range from a few months to a year. It’s essential to carefully consider the potential benefits of certification and weigh them against the time and resources required to achieve it. Working with a consultant or service provider such as ugreen.io can help you better understand the timeline and resources needed to achieve Fitwel certification and plan accordingly.

Fitwel Certification and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of healthy indoor environments in mitigating the spread of infectious diseases. The Fitwel Certification system, focusing on promoting health and well-being in the built environment, has adapted and evolved to address the challenges posed by the pandemic.

This section will discuss the role of Fitwel Certification in COVID-19 and how it can help create healthier and more resilient indoor environments.

Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation

One of the primary concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the transmission of the virus through respiratory droplets and aerosols.

Fitwel Certification emphasizes the importance of proper ventilation and air filtration systems to ensure good indoor air quality. Strategies include increasing outdoor air supply, using high-efficiency air filters, and maintaining proper humidity levels to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.

Touch-free Technologies and Hygiene

The pandemic has highlighted the need for minimizing high-touch surfaces and promoting proper hygiene practices. Fitwel Certification encourages the implementation of touch-free technologies, such as automatic doors, sensor-based faucets, and contactless payment options.

Additionally, it promotes the availability of hand sanitizing stations and frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces to reduce the risk of transmission further.

Social Distancing and Space Utilization

Fitwel Certification considers strategies to facilitate social distancing and encourage responsible space utilization. This includes adapting floorplans for increased physical separation, implementing one-way circulation patterns, and establishing designated areas for remote work or teleconferencing.

Additionally, it encourages using outdoor spaces for work, meetings, or breaks to reduce the density of occupants in enclosed areas.

Occupant Communication and Education

Effective communication and education are essential in managing the

response to COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of building occupants. Fitwel Certification emphasizes the importance of clear signage, digital displays, and other communication tools to inform occupants about hygiene practices, social distancing measures, and any changes to building policies or procedures.

Educational initiatives, such as training programs and informational materials, can also help raise awareness about infection prevention and control measures.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for buildings to be adaptable and prepared for emergencies. Fitwel Certification encourages the development of emergency preparedness and response plans that address various scenarios, including infectious disease outbreaks.

These plans may include policies for remote work, staggered schedules, occupancy limits, and guidelines for monitoring and responding to public health recommendations.

Employee Health and Well-being

As the pandemic has significantly affected mental health, Fitwel Certification recognizes the importance of supporting employee well-being during these challenging times.

Strategies include providing access to mental health resources, promoting regular breaks, and encouraging physical activity to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Post-pandemic Building Design Considerations

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a reevaluation of building design principles and increased focus on creating resilient and adaptable spaces.

Fitwel Certification seeks to incorporate lessons from the pandemic into future design strategies, emphasizing the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and occupant health in the built environment.

Fitwel Certification and COVID-19: Our Conclusion

Fitwel Certification has played a significant role in addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. By prioritizing indoor air quality, touch-free technologies, social distancing measures, occupant communication, emergency preparedness, and employee well-being, Fitwel has helped create healthier, safer, and more resilient indoor environments.

As we continue to navigate the lasting impacts of the pandemic and look towards the future, Fitwel Certification will remain an essential tool in promoting health and well-being in the built environment.

By incorporating the lessons learned during this time, architects, designers, and building owners can create spaces better equipped to handle today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, ultimately fostering healthier communities and supporting public health goals.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Fitwel Certification

For builders considering the implementation of Fitwel Certification, understanding the potential costs and benefits is crucial for informed decision-making. While initial investments may be required to meet Fitwel standards, numerous long-term benefits can offset these costs and contribute to a project’s success.

This section will explore the cost-benefit analysis of Fitwel Certification, highlighting the financial advantages and value it can bring to builders and their projects.

Enhanced Marketability and Property Value

Fitwel Certification can enhance a building’s marketability by demonstrating a commitment to occupant health and well-being, an increasingly important consideration for potential tenants and buyers. Certified buildings may command higher rental rates, sales prices, or occupancy levels, ultimately increasing the property’s overall value and return on investment.

Reduced Operating Costs

Fitwel-certified buildings often incorporate energy-efficient systems and sustainable materials, reducing operating costs in energy consumption, water usage, and maintenance. These savings can accumulate over time, offsetting initial investments and contributing to a project’s long-term financial viability.

Improved Employee Productivity and Reduced Absenteeism

Fitwel Certification promotes a healthier work environment, which can result in increased employee productivity and reduced absenteeism due to illness. By implementing strategies that improve indoor air quality, provide access to natural light, and encourage physical activity, builders can create spaces that support employee health and well-being.

This, in turn, can lead to reduced sick days, higher job satisfaction, and greater employee retention, ultimately benefiting a company’s bottom line.

Risk Mitigation and Resilience

Fitwel-certified buildings often incorporate design elements and strategies that improve resilience to environmental challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, and public health crises.

By investing in these features, builders can mitigate potential risks, reduce the likelihood of costly repairs or loss of functionality, and ensure the long-term viability of their projects.

Attracting High-Quality Tenants

Fitwel Certification can be attractive for discerning tenants who prioritize health and sustainability, including corporate clients, government agencies, and socially conscious businesses.

By offering a certified space, builders can attract high-quality tenants and establish long-term, stable leasing relationships.

Social Responsibility and Brand Reputation

Pursuing Fitwel Certification demonstrates a builder’s commitment to social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

By implementing health-promoting design features and sustainable practices, builders can enhance their brand reputation, attract environmentally conscious clients, and differentiate themselves from competitors in the market.

Potential Tax Incentives and Financing Opportunities

In some cases, builders may be eligible for tax incentives, grants, or favorable financing terms for pursuing Fitwel Certification or incorporating sustainable features into their projects.

These incentives can help offset the initial costs associated with certification and provide additional financial benefits.

While the initial costs of pursuing Fitwel Certification may concern builders, the long-term financial benefits often outweigh these investments. Enhanced marketability, reduced operating costs, improved employee productivity, risk mitigation, tenant attraction, social responsibility, and potential tax incentives all contribute to the overall value of Fitwel Certification.

By considering the cost-benefit analysis, builders can make informed decisions about pursuing Fitwel Certification for their projects, ultimately creating healthier, more sustainable, and financially successful spaces.

As the demand for health-conscious design continues to grow, adopting Fitwel Certification principles can position builders at the forefront of this movement, providing a competitive edge and fostering long-term growth and success.

Fitwel Certification in Public Spaces

Fitwel Certification, widely known for promoting health and well-being in residential and commercial buildings, can also be applied to public spaces such as parks, plazas, and transit stations.

As builders and public space administrators, understanding and implementing Fitwel strategies in public spaces can significantly contribute to healthier, more sustainable, and inclusive environments for all users.

This section will explore the importance of Fitwel Certification in public spaces and offer guidelines for its successful implementation.

Accessibility and Connectivity

Public spaces must be accessible and well-connected to the surrounding environment to encourage their use and ensure all community members can benefit from them.

Fitwel Certification promotes strategies such as creating accessible pathways, providing clear signage, and ensuring seamless connections to public transportation, bike lanes, and pedestrian routes.

Active Design and Physical Activity

Fitwel Certification emphasizes the importance of active design principles in public spaces to encourage physical activity and overall well-being.

Incorporate features like walking and cycling paths, fitness stations, playgrounds, and open sports or group exercise areas to create spaces that promote movement and healthy lifestyles.

Green Spaces and Biophilic Design

Integrating green spaces and biophilic design elements in public spaces can significantly impact users’ mental and emotional well-being.

Fitwel Certification encourages incorporating natural elements such as trees, gardens, and water features, as well as green infrastructure like green roofs and permeable pavement to improve air quality, reduce urban heat island effects, and create more inviting spaces.

Safety and Security

Ensuring safe and secure public spaces is essential for promoting their use and fostering a sense of community. Fitwel Certification advocates for strategies such as adequate lighting, clear sightlines, and using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles to create environments that minimize the risk of accidents or criminal activity.

Social Interaction and Inclusivity

Public spaces should encourage social interaction and be inclusive to all users, regardless of age, ability, or background.

Fitwel Certification recommends incorporating diverse seating options, multi-generational play areas, and flexible spaces that accommodate various community events and activities, fostering a sense of belonging and promoting social cohesion.

Amenities and Services

Fitwel Certification recognizes the importance of providing essential amenities and services in public spaces. Consider incorporating features like public restrooms, drinking fountains, bike racks, and Wi-Fi access to enhance user experience and ensure the space caters to a wide range of needs.

Maintenance and Cleanliness

A well-maintained and clean public space is crucial for attracting users and preserving the space’s overall appeal. Fitwel Certification emphasizes the importance of regular maintenance, waste management, and the use of sustainable materials that are durable and easy to clean, ensuring the space remains inviting and functional over time.

By implementing Fitwel Certification strategies in public spaces, builders and public space administrators can create healthier, more sustainable, and inclusive environments for all users.

These spaces can contribute to improved public health, stronger social connections, and a higher quality of life for community members. By prioritizing accessibility, functional design, green spaces, safety, social interaction, amenities, and maintenance, public spaces can become valuable assets in promoting well-being and fostering vibrant, resilient communities.

As the demand for health-conscious design continues to grow, embracing Fitwel Certification principles in public spaces can position builders and administrators at the forefront of this movement, creating lasting positive impacts on the communities they serve.

Fitwel Certification for Existing Buildings

Here are some key things builders and building administrators should know about Fitwel certification for existing buildings:

  1. Certification Criteria: The certification criteria for existing buildings are similar to those for new construction but tailored to the unique needs of older buildings. The criteria cover various topics, including air quality, water quality, access to healthy food, physical activity, and mental health. Buildings must meet a certain number of criteria to earn certification.
  2. Assessments: To earn Fitwel certification for an existing building, an assessment must be conducted by a Fitwel Ambassador or a Fitwel Champion. The assessment will evaluate the building’s current status and identify opportunities for improvement. The assessment involves collecting data on building systems, operations, and policies.
  3. Implementation: After the assessment, the building owner or administrator will receive a report outlining recommended improvements. The owner or administrator can implement these improvements to meet the certification criteria. Some improvements, such as improving lighting or adding indoor plants, may be relatively simple and low-cost. Others may require more significant investments, such as upgrading HVAC systems or adding bike storage.
  4. Benefits: Fitwel certification for existing buildings offers several benefits. First and foremost, it demonstrates a commitment to promoting health and well-being in the community. It can also improve building performance, increase occupant satisfaction, and reduce operating costs. In addition, Fitwel certification can help attract tenants who prioritize health and well-being.
  5. Renewal: Fitwel certification for existing buildings is valid for three years. After three years, the building owner or administrator must renew the certification by conducting a new assessment and making any necessary improvements. Renewal can help ensure that the building continues to meet the evolving needs of its occupants and the community.

In conclusion, Fitwel certification for existing buildings is essential for builders and building administrators to promote health and well-being in their communities.

By meeting the certification criteria and implementing recommended improvements, building owners and administrators can improve building performance, attract tenants, and demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their occupants.

The Role of Architects and Designers in Fitwel Certification

Architects and designers play a critical role in the Fitwel Certification process. They are responsible for implementing the design strategies and ensuring the building meets the certification criteria.

Below are some of the ways architects and designers can contribute to the Fitwel Certification process:

  1. Incorporating Fitwel Strategies into Design: Architects and designers can incorporate Fitwel strategies into the building design process. Fitwel strategies cover various topics, including air quality, water quality, access to healthy food, physical activity, and mental health. By integrating these strategies into the design, architects and designers can help create buildings that promote health and well-being.
  2. Identifying Opportunities for Improvement: Architects and designers can identify opportunities for improvement in existing buildings. For example, they may suggest upgrades to HVAC systems to improve air quality or modifications to the layout to encourage physical activity. By identifying these opportunities, architects and designers can help building owners and managers make changes that promote health and well-being.
  3. Coordinating with Building Owners and Managers: Architects and designers can work closely with building owners and managers to ensure the building meets the certification criteria. This may involve coordinating with building operators to ensure that building systems operate efficiently or working with building management to implement policies promoting health and well-being.
  4. Monitoring and Measuring Performance: Architects and designers can help building owners and managers monitor and measure the building’s performance over time. This may involve collecting data on air quality, water quality, or occupant satisfaction and using this data to identify areas for improvement.

In conclusion, architects and designers are critical in the Fitwel Certification process. By incorporating Fitwel strategies into the design, identifying opportunities for improvement, coordinating with building owners and managers, and monitoring and measuring performance, architects and designers can help create buildings that promote health and well-being.

Comparison of Fitwel Certification with other Building Certifications

Here are some critical comparisons of Fitwel Certification with other building certification programs:

  1. LEED Certification: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a widely recognized building certification program focusing on environmental sustainability. While LEED does include some health and well-being criteria, it does not have the same level of focus on these topics as Fitwel. LEED certification is often more expensive and time-consuming to achieve than Fitwel certification.
  2. WELL Certification: WELL is another building certification program focusing on occupant health and well-being. It has a similar focus to Fitwel but a greater emphasis on the design and operation of the building’s interior spaces. WELL certification is often more expensive and time-consuming to achieve than Fitwel certification.
  3. BREEAM Certification: BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is a building certification program that originated in the UK and has since expanded to other countries. It focuses on environmental sustainability but includes some criteria related to health and well-being. BREEAM certification is often more expensive and time-consuming to achieve than Fitwel certification.

In conclusion, Fitwel Certification is a building certification program that offers a unique focus on promoting health and well-being in buildings. While other certification programs include some health and well-being criteria, Fitwel is the only one that is solely dedicated to this topic.

Fitwel may be a more cost-effective and efficient option than other building certification programs depending on the specific needs and goals of a building owner or administrator.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fitwel Certification

How long is Fitwel certification valid?

Fitwel certifications are valid for three years from the date of certification. After three years, buildings must be re-certified to maintain their certification. To be re-certified, buildings must demonstrate that they continue to meet the standards for promoting health and well-being.

Regardless of age, can any relevant building be certified? What difficulties do older or historic properties face?

Older buildings frequently lack standard modern amenities like on-site fitness centers and appropriate stairwells and were not generally constructed with the health and welfare of tenants in mind. These are also frequently places where altering the design significantly enough to satisfy all Fitwel requirements is impractical.

This is not to say that older structures shouldn’t apply for certification. The design and construction of a building a common themes among the techniques and categories. Age is not a qualification, even though an older building could present a greater challenge.

There are several opportunities to earn points because historic structures are frequently found in central, contemporary, and populated metropolitan locations.

The Fitwel Viral Response Module: What is it?

The Fitwel Viral Response Module is a separate certification that enables businesses to implement new guidelines, policies, and practices for a comprehensive strategy to reduce disease transmission on an entity-level or asset-level basis. In direct reaction to the need surrounding COVID-19, this module was created.

The module focuses on data-driven tactics that reduce viral spread and foster a healthy environment for all inhabitants. With the help of leading figures in the commercial real estate sector and health professionals, Fitwel created and produced this module. The only certification that may be applied corporate-wide is this one.

How can I start my Fitwel certification with UGREEN?

To start your Fitwel certification with UGREEN, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Contact UGREEN: The first step is to contact UGREEN to discuss your interest in the Fitwel certification. You can do this by scheduling an appointment here.
  2. Schedule an assessment: Once you have contacted UGREEN, they will assess your building to determine its compliance with the Fitwel standards. This assessment will involve reviewing your building’s design and operational features and an on-site visit to collect data and assess the building’s performance.
  3. Develop a plan: Based on the assessment results, UGREEN will work with you to develop a plan to improve your building’s compliance with the standards. This plan will outline the specific actions that need to be taken to meet the requirements, including any physical changes to the building or operational policies and procedures that need to be implemented.
  4. Implement the plan: With the help of UGREEN, you will need to implement the plan to improve your building’s compliance with the standards. This will involve making necessary physical changes to the building and implementing new policies and procedures as outlined in the plan.
  5. Verification and certification: Once you have implemented the necessary improvements, UGREEN will conduct a verification assessment to confirm that your building meets the standards. If the facility meets the criteria, ugreen.io will submit the documentation to the program for review and certification.

Working with UGREEN allows you to receive expert guidance and support throughout the Fitwel certification process.

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