14 August 2023
Morayo Kamson, Senior Sustainability and Energy Analyst
What is the importance of social value in the built environment?
Real estate fund managers and asset owners are shaping their ESG strategies at a unique point in time. In the wake of a global pandemic and a time when diversity and equity are important business considerations; strategies to measure health, safety, and social wellbeing of building occupants are highly sought after. Cultivating meaningful social interactions through business activities begins with an action plan. Building certifications, such as Fitwel, prove helpful in creating such plans. Globally recognized as a leading health and wellbeing certification, Fitwel serves as a tool to benchmark buildings in terms of design and impact on occupant health and safety. Not only do Fitwel certifications give investors and property owners insight into the current social impact of their buildings, but they also determine industry best practices, which can be used to improve the impact of a given building on occupants and surrounding communities.
What is leading to the growth and expansion of Health and Wellbeing Certifications?
Fitwel has noticeably grown in scope and popularity in the health and wellbeing certification realm since its launch in 2017. From 2021 to 2022, Fitwel certifications increased by nearly 200%. This upward trend has persisted, with certifications continuing to more than double each year. As we reach the mid-year, a record number of certifications are in progress around the world. This growth is only expected to continue as asset owners, stakeholders, and tenants alike seek out methods to measure and assess social initiatives.
Health and wellbeing certifications serve several purposes. Not only do these certifications create a solid framework rooted in science, but they also measure how well buildings perform socially and provide guidance to those who are starting or continuing their ‘S’ journey in ESG.
Where is the value in Fitwel?
Whether a company is well-versed in ESG or just starting the journey, the ‘S’ in ESG has become a new area of emphasis for many, with developing regulations. Fitwel certifications aid in quantifying social components of a building and its operations. Created by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fitwel stands out from other building certifications as a recognized, science-based framework for measuring and promoting healthy buildings and occupants. Fitwel takes a unique approach to certifications with no prerequisites to certification and several resources available for use.
As Fitwel continues to grow in scope and popularity, certified buildings make great case studies and features for annual sustainability reports. Fitwel’s unique “people-centric” approach to building certifications is centered on the health and longevity of both buildings and their occupants. With categories including Shared Space, Building Access, and Indoor Environment, Fitwel helps bridge the gap between building operations and occupant experience. The certification balances occupant experience with technical aspects of building performance including air and water quality.
What is the applicability of Fitwel certifications to SFDR reporting?
Fitwel certifications aid in annual reporting as well, including SFDR and GRESB. Article 8 of SFDR reporting includes requirements for the disclosure of environmental and social characteristics in financial endeavors. Health and wellbeing certifications aid in SFDR reporting when conducted across a fund. Fitwel certifications for both new construction and operational assets serve as a benchmarking tool to track progress on social projects.
Fitwel’s partnership with GRESB bolsters its applicability with over a third of indicators in alignment. With the GRESB season coming to an end, pursuing a Fitwel certification can help tackle the social components included in reporting and ESG strategy development.
How can Longevity Partners help?
Through our Social Impact business unit, Longevity Partners supports the social initiatives of our clients through policy framework development, stakeholder engagement strategies, and asset-level social value and impact analysis. Our interdisciplinary approach serves to integrate social value into all aspects of ESG at both the corporate and asset level. We are here to help determine which social certification would best suit your needs, whether it be Fitwel, WELL, or otherwise. Should Fitwel be the chosen certification, we are ready to provide support on developing Fitwel materials for certification including, but not limited to, indoor air quality policies, civic engagement plans, and occupant satisfaction surveys.
For Fitwel or WELL inquiries, please reach out to Sophie Hazza, Global Fitwel Lead, at email@example.com or Peter Howle, our Business Unit Lead for Existing Building Certifications in the UK, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all Social Impact inquiries, please reach out to Gabriela Palma, our Global Social Impact Lead, at email@example.com, or to our Business Development Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.