What is Fitwel?

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Fitwel is a commercial building rating system that provides guidelines on how to design and operate healthier buildings. As green building consultants, SIG is always tapping into the industry to get a feel for what is trending, and we have heard a lot of buzz about this new rating system for two main reasons:

  • Health and wellness is becoming increasingly more important to people and is one of the next major trends in green building. McKinsey & Company has even predicted that “wellness” is the next trillion-dollar industry.
  • Fitwel is a less expensive and faster certification than the WELL Building Standard.

Created as a joint initiative led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) together with the General Services Administration (GSA), Fitwel provides guidelines for designing, constructing, and operating healthier buildings. The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is the operator of Fitwel and responsible for the third-party verification of the certification.

Fitwel Criteria

One of the biggest advantages of Fitwel is that there are no “prerequisites” or barriers to entry that would prevent a building from being eligible to earn a Fitwel certification. There are 144 possible points projects can achieve through the 63 evidence-based strategies – 90 points are needed as a minimum for certification. These strategies have proven to increase the health and well-being of occupants, and are divided up into 12 categories:

Based on the building’s walkscore.

Building Access
Pedestrian access to alternative transportation support, including nearby bus stops, bike parking, and showers and lockers.

Outdoor Spaces
Outdoor amenity spaces for occupant use includes walking trails, fitness equipment, restorative gardens, farmers markets, and safe lighting.

Entrances and Ground Floor
Clean and safe entrances to the building including a smoke and tobacco free building and grounds, walkoff mats, and appropriate lighting.

Occupants have access to building-wide staircase to be utilized in lieu of the elevator.

Indoor Environments
Building wide policies include one for Indoor Air Quality Policy, Green Purchasing Policy, and a Smoke Free Building Policy.

Occupant workstations are designed to increase views of nature and access to natural light. Active workstations are provided with standing support.

Shared Spaces
All shared spaces have a regular and thorough cleaning protocol in place. Common areas include lactation rooms, meditation rooms, wellness rooms, and fitness facilities.

Water Supply
Water sources are provided on each floor – including ADA and water bottle refilling stations. Annual water testing for contaminants.

Cafeterias and Prepared Food Retail
Projects are to comply with Food and Beverage policy for meetings and events. Any on site food service areas are to promote and incentivize healthy items.

Vending Machines and Snack Bars
On site vending machines and snack bars are to promote and incentivize healthy food choices

Emergency Procedures
Building wide emergency requipment supplies and emergency address notification. AEDs and CFRs on each floor.

Each strategy within the above categories has points allocated depending on the weight of the 7 health impact categories below:

  • 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

Fitwel Scoring

Fitwel certifications are given either 1, 2, or 3 stars based on the number of points they earn.  Here is a breakdown of the scoring:
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One-star (90-104 points)
Two-stars (105-124 points)
Three-stars (125-144 points)

Fitwel Scorecard

Here’s a link to download the Fitwel Scorecard. Fitwel provides scorecards for 6 different use types:

  • Multi-tenant base building
  • Multi-tenant whole building
  • Single-tenant building
  • Commercial Interior space
  • Multi-Family Residential
  • Retail
  • Sites (community and commercial sites)

Projects are able to pursue a Design Fitwel Certification, or a Built Fitwel Certification depending on the phase of construction and level of occupancy.

Fitwel Certification Cost

Fitwel is very cost-effective and is one of the most affordable building certifications to earn.  There are two main costs associated with Fitwel (note, that there may be additional capital expenses and/or other soft costs involved):
Registration fee is $500
Certification fee is $5,500 – 10,000 (depending on the square feet of the building)

Fitwel Champions

Fitwel Champions are companies that place an emphasis on the importance of health and wellness at their buildings and commit to apply Fitwel to some or all of their portfolio of buildings.

Fitwel Ambassadors

Fitwel Ambassadors are individuals who are early adopters of Fitwel and seek to promote this standard as well as navigate the Fitwel Digitial Certification Tool to help clients track progress and attain Fitwel certifications. To become a Champion, you must commit to 6 or more Fitwel projects within a 12 month period.
In order to become a Fitwel Ambassador you must take and pass a 50-question exam with a minimum passing score of 80%.
The cost of this course and exam is $250, and you can register to become an ambassador by clicking here.

Fitwel Consulting

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With Fitwel Ambassadors on staff, we would love to help guide you through the entire certification process (start to finish). Alternatively, we are nimble enough to help you with a portion of your certification, if needed.
The first step would simply be for you to reach out to us to let us know you are considering Fitwel, and we can lay out a complimentary certification plan from there. This plan would essentially assess how many stars we think you could earn (1,2, or 3) and exactly how much the certification would cost (your all-in Fitwel cost). This way, you can more easily decide if a Fitwel certification is right for your building or buildings.
If we can answer any questions or help with this certification plan, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We have a friendly and knowledgeable staff eager to assist you.
Our main number is 404-343-3835, or you can leave us a message on our Contact Us page.

Related Articles:

Top 12 Green Building Rating Systems
Covid 19 and Buildings: How Building Certifications can Help Prevent Disease Spread in the Future
SIG Partner: Paramount Group, recognized for Best in Building Health
Implementing Fitwel into your Office
Fitwel vs Well

For more information about our services, or if you would like to schedule a LEED Exam Prep Class, please contact Michael Friedman

Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) Atlanta Headquarters 1155 Mt Vernon Highway NE Suite 800 Atlanta, GA 30338


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