For many people, January is a time for making resolutions and setting new goals for staying healthy, such as eating better food or getting more exercise. To keep with the theme of health, I’d like to share why some of my IMT colleagues and I joined other early adopters in becoming certified Fitwel Ambassadors. Launched by the General Services Administration and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and operated by the Center for Active Design, Fitwel is a unique public-private building certification based on scientific human health data.
Fitwel’s certification system highlights key features and attributes of buildings that enhance human health and ensure chronic disease prevention. At IMT, we know that occupant health is intrinsically tied with energy efficiency and building performance. A cold and drafty office or apartment building not only wastes heating fuel and money but also spurs illness and discomfort. A poorly-installed HVAC unit or improper ventilation exposes people to poor indoor air quality and CO2 build-up, which has been shown to harm productivity among other negative outcomes.
Fitwel complements existing building certifications such as LEED and ENERGY STAR due to its low cost, no requirement for extensive construction pre-requisites, and reliance on tangible, evidence-based responses, I.E. “does your building have a fitness center?” It also coincides with construction and build-out material requirements, focusing on factors that bring the well-being of tenants to the forefront of how high-performance buildings should be operated. These focus areas include indoor air quality and amenities such as bike rooms, access to public transportation, and healthy cafeteria options, all of which are becoming more common in energy-efficient spaces, as a growing number of tenants demand them.
Several leading companies in the built environment have applied Fitwel’s design and operation strategies to all or a portion of their workplace portfolios.The renowned architecture and design firm Perkins+Will became first organization to employ the certification program, according to an article in Fast Company. The firm has now committed to using Fitwel across all of its North American offices and aims to work with clients interested in getting certified. At IMT, we are excited to be early-adoption Fitwel Ambassadors so that we may inform and advise on the program’s key healthy components that align with our work to advance well-operated, high-performance buildings across the U.S.
Efficiency experts must stay up to date on not only building codes and standards, but also health-focused amenities that increase overall building and tenant well-being. This shift towards a more cohesive and circular mindset will have an outsize impact on the whole life cycle of buildings and their tenants. For more information about Fitwel, or to learn how you can get your office space certified, visit fitwel.org or contact me at email@example.com.