People spend at least 90 percent of their time inside, so it is understandable that organizations that want to keep employees healthy, productive and happy are willing to go the extra mile to make the most of their workspaces.

Drivers like these, paired with an increased focus on personal wellness, nature-inspired design and overall balance, cause organizations to pursue a Fitwel certification. This unique program is designed to help organizations create and maintain healthier workplace environments with evidence-based design principles and operational strategies.

Interested in learning more about the Fitwel certification and how your building can achieve this standard for your tenants? This article can help you get there.

What Is the Fitwel Certification?

The Fitwel certification program was developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA) in 2016, and it’s based on the input of more than 50 researchers and scientists from a range of disciplines. 

The Fitwel certification program outlines seven health impact categories, with a scoring system that evaluates how well a building implements these design principles across 12 domains. The standards can apply to existing buildings as well as new construction projects, including the following types of spaces:

         Multi-tenant base building
         Multi-tenant whole building
         Single-tenant building
         Commercial interior space
         Multi-family residential

The Center for Active Design was selected by the federal government to implement and administer the program and, since its founding, Fitwel has become the world’s leading building health certification system. Today, there are more than 1,000 registered building projects in over 40 countries, bringing the Fitwel principles to more than 830,000 people worldwide. 

The Steps to Achieve Fitwel Certification

Although the number of steps each organization will have to take to achieve the Fitwel certification will be different, the overall path is the same for everyone. Here is a quick overview of the key steps and criteria your building can follow.

1. Identify a Fitwel Ambassador.

Nominate someone on your facilities or building management team to investigate, organize and champion the effort to obtain the certification. You may also choose to use this champion as a point of contact for a consultant that is hired to assist with the implementation of this initiative. 

This Fitwel Ambassador nominee will then take the Introductory Ambassador Course, which covers:

     Research used to develop the Fitwel program
     Criteria for the certification
     Digital interface used for record progress

The course also includes a 60-minute prerecorded training video, access to the Fitwel Reference Guides and a 50-question multiple choice online exam.

2. Use the Fitwel scorecards to assess and improve your current score. 

After successfully completing  the introductory course, the ambassador can use the resource guides to perform an initial assessment of their building project, which focuses on seven key health impact categories:

     Impacts Community
     Reduces Morbidity and Absenteeism
     Supports Social Equality for Vulnerable Populations
     Increases Physical Activity
     Promotes Occupant Safety
     Provides Healthy Food Options
     Instills Feelings of Well-Being

The results of the assessment will be recorded on a scorecard, which aids in calculating the building’s score and identifying where your facility currently is in alignment with the Fitwell design principles. Your building must ultimately score a minimum of 90 out of a total of 144 possible points to receive a Fitwel certification.

The points on the scorecard are divided across 12 domains, which encompasses all aspects of a building and its impact on wellness. These include:

Location: Walkability to public transportation and other amenities
Building Access: Pedestrian access to alternative transportation 
Outdoor Spaces: Outdoor amenity spaces available for occupant use 
Entrances and Ground Floor: Clean and safe entrances to the building
Stairwells: In lieu of the elevator, occupants have access to one or more building-wide staircases 
Indoor Environments: Building-wide policies for indoor air quality, green purchasing and a smoke-free building
Workspaces: Workstations designed with a priority for access to natural light and views of nature
Shared Spaces: Thorough and regular cleaning protocols are in place 
Water Supply: Water sources are provided on each floor and are tested annually
Cafeterias and Prepared Retail Food: On-site food service, proximity to farmer’s markets and healthy eating options
Vending Machines and Snack Bars: Snack bars and vending machines that highlight and incentivize healthy food choices
Emergency Procedures: Building-wide emergency equipment supplies and emergency address notification on each floor

Some significant points can be gained for facilities that provide a dedicated lactation room with a lactation station, electrical outlet, sink and refrigerator. Additionally you can gain points with a high walking score, by encouraging building inhabitants to take the stairs, and by promoting excellent indoor air quality (IAQ).

3. Register for the Fitwel Certification

Once your wellness team  has identified and implemented a strategy to get the 90 points required, you will register to get access to the Fitwel portal to track and report on the status of your project’s progress. 

After completing the project tracking and verifying your score, you will then need to register for a Fitwel certification, paired with a fee that varies based on the size of the building. Then, within three months, the Fitwel Certification Team will review the project and send comments for the project team’s review and response. 

Once the responses are accepted, the Fitwel Certification Team will give your project a score and associated star rating. The certification is valid for three years.

Take the Next Step

There are numerous benefits for your tenants and your brand in achieving the Fitwel Certification, but the process can vary widely based on the current status of your property, However, if you are serious about achieving the Fitwel certification and are looking to streamline the process, you can partner with Able Services and benefit from our expert experience. Once certified, you can also leverage our engineering and janitorial services to maintain and service your Fitwel certified building

Ready to learn more? Contact us and get your facility started on its own Fitwel journey.

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