The health and well-being movement in commercial real estate has reached an inflection point. Providing healthy spaces has become a true market differentiator as leasing activity declines and millions of workers prepare to re-occupy office spaces. This has created a surge of interest in Fitwel, a cost-effective evidence-based certification for health and well-being in the built environment.

This movement was born in 2004 when then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on CEOs of large corporations to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles into capital markets. Over time, the concept of sustainability broadened from an environmental focus to far reaching social and governance principles. This paved the way for the 2014 launch of the WELL Building Standard, the first health and well-being building standard. However, market adoption of WELL was slow because of high implementation costs, especially for existing buildings (i.e., most of the 103 projects certified to date in the U.S. are new construction).

The 2016 launch of Fitwel filled the void for a cost-effective health and well-being standard for existing buildings. Developed by the Center for Active Design (CfAD), Fitwel has no prerequisites and is more cost-effective, flexible, and accessible than WELL. Evidence-based strategies promoted by Fitwel cover the spectrum of healthy buildings from indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring to providing resources for working mothers.

Fitwel’s “Champions” program recognizes organizations that commit to certify six or more projects within a year. When reviewing the Fitwel Champions list, it is clear how much the program has grown with the likes of Tishman Speyer and Cushman & Wakefield leading the charge.

The health and well-being movement has spawned other programs, certifications, and standards. The RESET Standard focuses on IAQ monitoring and is slowly gaining traction, primarily in Asia. WELL is currently developing a Health-Safety Rating focused on facility operations and management that is expected to launch later this month. Further, the USGBC recently released a “Re-Entry” tool in the Arc platform to help property teams create effective infection control procedures, engage with occupants, and use IAQ measurements to inform operations.

Fitwel provides a tailored approach for organizations to show their commitment to providing healthy work spaces. We believe the program hits the mark on the important concepts, while remaining flexible and cost-effective. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about Fitwel and other opportunities to differentiate your assets.