Fitwel, the healthy building certification system operated by The Center for Active Design (CfAD), announced the formal launch of its Viral Response module, with additional commitments for adoption from leading companies, including BentallGreenOak, Boston Properties, Brookfield Properties, DLC Europe, Hudson Pacific Properties, Kilroy Realty Corporation, Nuveen Real Estate, and The Tower Companies.
Today's formal launch of the module, which provides annual, third-party certification of policies and practices informed by the latest public health research on mitigating the spread of contagious diseases, reflects the quick progress Fitwel and its industry and academic advisors have made to prepare the module for widespread implementation. The module's comprehensive guidance and turnkey policies were designed to be efficiently implemented across commercial and residential portfolios or individual assets, helping companies to build trust with tenants and employees.
Unlike other products, Fitwel's Viral Response module requires that companies follow a set of baseline strategies – actions that are necessary to mitigate the spread of infectious respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. These minimum requirements cover indoor environments, behavioral change, and building occupant trust, and get as granular as specifying the chemicals that are needed in cleaning products. Fitwel and its advisors intend to update the module annually in accordance with the evolving science.
Joanna Frank, President and CEO of CfAD, said, "Fitwel was initially created to optimize built environments for chronic disease prevention. Companies can chart their own course within Fitwel Certification to address these long-term issues without minimum requirements. However, infectious disease mitigation is quite different, and the science shows there are baseline requirements that companies absolutely must follow to effectively reduce infectious respiratory disease transmission in buildings. The Viral Response module was developed to set the industry standard in response to COVID-19, and it represents an evolution of Fitwel's efforts to promote health and wellness in the built environment."
Fitwel's two-step certification process enables companies the flexibility to establish and implement viral response policies at scale. Users establish policies to cover any portfolio, selection of assets or individual tenant spaces that have consistent operational practices, then submit to have these policies certified by CfAD in a six-week, double-blind review process. Once Viral Response certification is achieved, companies can demonstrate application within specific assets. This step verifies that the strategies have been put into practice, and CfAD recognizes this achievement with a plaque that companies can use to convey to occupants that their spaces are optimized for viral mitigation.
"The built environment plays a crucial role in the health, wellness, and productivity of the people who live and work within the communities that we manage on behalf of our clients. BentallGreenOak's role as industry advisor and early adopter of the Center for Active Design's Fitwel Viral Response module provides us with an industry leading response to COVID-19 to better serve our tenants and community stakeholders, while equipping our property management teams with clear and informed guidance for implementation across our managed portfolio," said Anna Murray, Managing Director, Global Head of ESG, BentallGreenOak.
BentallGreenOak, Harrison Street, QuadReal Property Group, Tishman Speyer, Triovest Realty Advisors, and Vornado Realty Trust are among the companies that served as the industry advisors that prototyped the module. A group of highly respected public health experts from leading institutions such as Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Queensland University of Technology served on the module's academic advisory board and advised on its strategies.