5 Key Takeaways From Becoming a Fitwel Ambassador
By Eve Marenghi
Fitwel is a building certification program developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA) that sets standards for design features and operational strategies that support the health of building occupants. Fitwel offers more than 50 evidence-based design and operational strategies generated by expert analysis of over 3,000 academic research studies and tested across a portfolio of buildings. The Center for Active Design was selected by the federal government as Fitwel’s operator in 2016. Since then, Fitwel has become the world’s leading health certification system, with more than 1,000 registered projects in over 40 countries, impacting 830,000 people worldwide.
Fitwell offers pathways to certification for new construction and existing projects. Costs include a one-time registration fee of $500 per project and a certification fee based on square footage, ranging from $5,500 for buildings less than 50,000 square feet to $10,000 for buildings less than 2,000,000 square feet. Certification requires no pre-requisites and can be completed in as little as 12 weeks.
I recently completed the Fitwel Ambassador certification. Here are my top 5 takeaways from the training.
1. Healthy Buildings Improve Occupant Health and Well-Being
Time spent indoors accounts for roughly 90% of our daily lives. According to Fitwel, there is a clear relationship between where we spend our time, the quality, amenities, and design of that environment, and our individual health outcomes. Spaces that supply clean air, opportunities for physical activity, access to nature, and foster healthy habits, in general, can deeply alter a person’s health trajectory.
Non-communicable diseases and high-stress levels contribute to productivity losses and considerable health costs to US employers. Fitwel has a vision for a healthier future where every building and community is enhanced to support well-being.
2. Fitwel’s Strategies Take a Comprehensive Approach to Address Health
Fitwel addresses health holistically as an interconnected system. Empirical evidence links Fitwel’s strategies to at least one of seven Health Impact Categories. Fitwel’s strategies are those with the strongest evidence base and with the highest demonstrated impact on Fitwel’s Health Impact Categories, shown below.
Source: Reference Guide for the Fitwel Certification System: Workplace
3. Many Fitwel Strategies Address Multiple Components of Occupant Health
Fitwel offers strategies that address multiple Health Impact Categories, providing the opportunity to get the most “bang for your buck”. For example, improving the walkability of a building increases opportunities for regular physical activity, social interaction, and access to amenities, fostering improved health. By outlining the various impact categories related to each strategy, building operators can prioritize based on which strategies are most effective and beneficial for their building occupants.
4. Healthy Building Updates Are Effective Across A Range Of Building And Site Types
Fitwel currently offers certification for Workplace, Multifamily Residential, Retail, Community (beta), and Commercial Site (beta). Many health strategies are consistent across building types, but unique and specific strategies are offered as well. By providing certification for a range of building types, Fitwel ensures that building owners and operators can improve well-being for occupants across their entire building portfolio.
5. Minor, Cost-Effective Updates Make A Big Difference
Many Fitwel strategies are inexpensive to implement and remain highly effective. Adding hand-washing signage in bathrooms prevents the transmission of infections, especially relevant in the time of COVID-19. Similarly, signs promoting stair use located near elevators may encourage occupants to use the stairs, which increases daily physical activity. Safe entry and exit lighting can be inexpensive to implement and increases visibility, contributing to increased perceptions of safety and pedestrian street use after dark.
Fitwel is a comprehensive, evidence-based certification system that can be implemented to improve the built environment, increasing occupant comfort, safety, health, and well-being across a range of building types. With Fitwel Ambassadors on staff, Gotham 360 can help advise and manage the Fitwel certification process for your building or portfolio today.