If you know about our firm, you know that we care deeply about sustainable practices in design and construction. To that end, Karin recently became an Ambassador of The Fitwel System, a building certification standard that optimizes building occupant health and productivity through targeted improvements to workplace design and policies.
Fitwel is a building certification that aims to support the well-being of its occupants and surrounding communities through an approach to workplace design and operations. A custom scorecard tracks points in 12 sections, to determine the level of certification of the building—a 1-star to 3-star rating. Each line within the sections is linked to one or more health impact categories, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA).
The 7 Health Impact Categories
The Fitwel scorecard is made up of strategies, each supporting various health impact categories. These have been carefully chosen to create the most impactful change in the health and well-being of occupants in a workplace.
Researched by the CDC and piloted nationwide by the GSA in 2015, the program was launched in early 2017, with the goals of fostering positive impacts on building health and productivity.
The Fitwel Health Impact Categories include:
- Impacts Community Health
- Reduces Morbidity + Absenteeism
- Supports Social Equality for Vulnerable Populations
- Instills Feelings of Well-Being
- Provides Healthy Food Options
- Promotes Occupant Safety
- Increases Physical Activity
The 12 sections of certification
The Fitwel scorecard also measures health within 12 overarching sections that impact the design and operations of a site and building interior.
Workplaces located in more walkable neighborhoods with nearby amenities and public transit access support greater opportunities for physical activity and social equity, and foster positive impacts on community health.
Sample strategies include optimizing WalkScore and transit access.
2. BUILDING ACCESS
Supporting multi-modal access to buildings increases opportunities for engaging in regular physical activity.
Sample strategies include supports for carpools, bikes, and pedestrians.
3. OUTDOOR SPACES
Providing onsite or nearby outdoor spaces assists in supporting mental and physical health.
Sample strategies include provisions and policies for outdoor amenities, such as walking trails and smoke-free spaces.
4. ENTRANCES AND GROUND FLOOR
Ground floors can be optimized to promote improved air quality and access to health-promoting amenities.
Sample strategies include entryway systems to capture particulates and context appropriate lighting for safety.
Stairwells present a convenient way for building occupants to add physical activity to their day.
Sample strategies include provisions for accessible, visible, and well-designed stairwells.
6. INDOOR ENVIRONMENT
Limiting prolonged exposure to harmful airborne substances and pollutants in indoor environments can improve air quality and reduce risk factors associated with chronic disease, comorbidities, and absenteeism for occupants.
Sample strategies include smoke-free building policies and providing an asbestos-free interior.
Health-supportive workspaces can assist in reducing absenteeism, while also instilling feelings of well-being.
Sample strategies include daylight, views, and operable shading at workspaces.
8. SHARED SPACES
Onsite shared spaces can promote health outside of the individual workspace, by providing areas for physical activity and mental rejuvenation.
Sample strategies include provisions for a lactation and exercise room.
9. WATER SUPPLY
Providing access to fresh water reduces consumption of less healthy alternatives.
Sample strategies include providing an ADA compliant water supply on every floor.
10. CAFETERIAS AND PREPARED FOOD RETAIL
Food retail can have a positive impact by elevating healthy food and beverage options on site.
Sample strategies include establishing standards for healthy food and beverages.
11. VENDING MACHINES AND SNACK BARS
Providing healthier food and beverage options can reverse the negative health impacts of traditional vending machines.
Sample strategies include pricing incentives for healthy snacks.
12. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
Emergency preparedness can improve coordination and timeliness of emergency response, increasing safety during emergency situations.
Sample strategies include provisions for an Automated External Defibrillator and associated testing schedule.
To learn more about how to implement the Fitwel certification system, see how we’re beginning to implement it in our own office.
Are you looking to make your next project “green,” but don’t know where to start?
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