Fitwel: Building Health for All
Fitwel is a healthy building certification system aimed at creating facilities that improve the health and well-being of occupants. Based on evidence-based design strategies, Fitwel addresses a broad range of health behaviors and risks including physical activity, nutrition, mental health, and social engagement. Originally created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. General Services Administration, Fitwel certification can be applied to new or existing buildings. SSR offers Fitwel consulting services to help buildings achieve their desired Fitwel certification.
What are the benefits of Fitwel to an Owner?
As an owner, investing in Fitwel strategies and certification can increase the property value and rent that a space can command. Fitwel certified buildings have integrated strategies into building operations that optimize health for occupants within the building. Marketing the premium health benefits of the space attracts higher quality tenants and employees.
What are the benefits of Fitwel to an Occupant?
For occupants of Fitwel certified buildings, they know that the building is designed with their health, safety, and well-being at top of mind. The program has seven Health Impact categories to earn points in. These categories and some examples of strategies that positively impact the occupant include:
- Increase physical activity: Walkability of building site, promotion of stair use, and access to physical fitness/recreation opportunities
- Promote occupant safety: Incorporate stair safety elements, bike parking protected from elements and theft, well-lit building entrances
- Reduce morbidity and absenteeism: Implement an indoor air quality (IAQ) policy, conduct regular IAQ testing, implement integrated pest management (IPM) plan
- Promote social equity: Enhance access to public transportation, provide amenities accessible to all occupants free of charge, provide access to programs promoting mental and physical wellness such as fitness or meditation classes
- Instill feelings of well-being: Provide regular occupants access to natural daylight, views of nature, and thermal control devices; implement rigorous cleaning protocol for all bathrooms and break areas
- Impact surrounding community health: Provide or support outdoor amenities that could serve and benefit neighboring projects, establish a tobacco- and smoke-free policy for all outdoor spaces
- Enhance access to healthy foods: Promote healthy food options through pricing incentives and choice architecture practices, stock vending machines and snack bars with healthy options, provide drinking water supply at each regularly occupied floor
How is Fitwel different from other industry certifications?
Fitwel has some key similarities to the WELL rating system; both focus primarily on the human user-experience as well as fostering a healthy, happy environment. LEED focuses more on building infrastructure and optimizing energy, water, and material/resource use. SSR has facilitated projects pursuing both Fitwel and LEED and the two rating systems synergize well together.
Key differences between Fitwel and WELL are that Fitwel may offer a lower barrier to entry. The certification process is less rigorous due to no required on-site performance testing with a straightforward prescriptive criteria-based approach. Fitwel also has a lower price point for certification fees and a faster certification process due to the lack of required testing. These distinctions make Fitwel a prime candidate for owners who are just getting into the healthy-building space or have large portfolios that would be cost-prohibitive to pursue WELL certification at scale.
Fitwel is a valuable tool for building owners who want to create healthy and productive environments for their occupants and market their facility as such. It is a comprehensive and evidence-based system that can help to improve occupant health and well-being. If you are interested in learning more about Fitwel consulting and certification, reach out to us for more information on the program, the benefits of certification, and how to get started. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.