Questions and answers about the Fitwel certification system

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  • September 16, 2020 | Nicole Phillips
Questions and answers about the Fitwel certification system

Frequently asked questions & answers about the Fitwel certification system

Fitwel is a green building certification system that focuses on improving, enhancing, and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of tenants and residents in office buildings, multifamily residential buildings, and retail space. Created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA), the Fitwel certification system has “a vision for a healthier future where every building is enhanced to support the wellbeing of its occupants and support healthier communities.” Fitwel takes a holistic approach when addressing tenant and building health.

During a webinar hosted by Goby, we compiled a list of questions that people frequently have about the Fitwel certification system. Below is a list of these questions and their answers.

Q1. What does it cost to become Fitwel-certified? Is there a one-time payment or are there recurring fees?

There is a $500 registration fee that gives teams access to use the Fitwel Portal. The Fitwel certification fee is dependent on the size of the building. Pricing is as follows:

  • 0 – 49,999 square feet: $5,500
  • 50,000 – 99,999 square feet: $6,000
  • 100,000 – 249,999 square feet: $6,500
  • 250,000 – 499,999 square feet: $7,000
  • 500,000 – 749,999 square feet: $7,500
  • 750,000 – 999,999 square feet: $8,000
  • 1,000,000+ square feet: Contact us for pricing

Q2. Besides the registration cost and certification fee, are there any other mandatory fees, or commonly occurring costs, associated with Fitwel?

The only mandatory costs that are associated with Fitwel are the certification fee and the registration fee. The Fitwel certification is valid for three years. After three years, properties must re-submit for certification and will be charged a re-registration fee plus 80% of the prevailing certification rate.

None of the Fitwel strategies are cost-restrictive for any portfolio, so the amount of money you need to spend getting certified depends on how much you’re willing to spend. For example, a large amount of money could be spent in order to build a new gym or other amenities that require a larger financial investment and increase your buildings score by a good amount. However, there are strategies that can be achieved that are less costly, such as placing appropriate signage around stairwells and providing plants in offices and common spaces. These strategies are easy to implement and cost-effective.

Q3. Are Fitwel-certified buildings publicly listed somewhere?

There is a Project Directory listing all of the performance data on Fitwel-Certified projects located on the Fitwel website.

Q4. How does the certification process differ between new construction and existing buildings?

New Construction and renovation projects can pursue Fitwel certification through the New Construction pathway. This is available to projects pre-occupancy which will allow for market differentiation based on a widely recognized commitment to building and occupant health. Once occupied, project teams will have the opportunity to pursue a Built Certification. New construction projects must first submit for a Design Certification (pre-occupancy) and then a Built Certification (post-occupancy).

Existing or recently completed buildings are able to pursue certification through the existing buildings pathway and will receive a Built Certification.

Q5. I manage a single campus that contains 3 office buildings; do I need to pay the Fitwel fee for all three buildings, or is there just one fee for the campus?

The annual fee of $500 is charged on a per-building basis, therefore you will have to pay a fee for each building.

Q6. How does Fitwel compare with WELL?

Though both Fitwel and WELL certification programs have a similar focus, which is maximizing the health and well-being of building occupants and tenants, they have different approaches and focus on different aspects within a building. Fitwel is heavily focused on building a healthy community inside and outside the building and offers a more straightforward way of attaining that information. WELL, on the other hand, takes a deeper look into individual spaces and measures things like air quality and water quality.

Q7. Can any applicable building be certified, regardless of age? What are some challenges for older or historic properties?

Older properties tend to not have been built with the health and wellness of tenants in mind and lack typically modern amenities like on-site fitness centers and applicable stairwells. These also tend to be properties where it’s not realistic to change the design of the building enough to meet every Fitwel criteria.

This doesn’t mean that older buildings shouldn’t submit for a certification. A large portion of the Fitwel strategies and categories are related to the design and structure of a building. Though an older building may have a bigger challenge, age is not a disqualifier. Historic buildings tend to be located in core, modern and popular urban areas, so there are many opportunities to earn points through Alternative Compliance.

Q8. Is there evidence that having a Fitwel certification has an impact on prospective leasing decisions and/or rent levels?

There have been many studies in recent years about green building certifications and their influence as a factor in leasing decisions. While there aren’t any studies about the impact of the Fitwel system itself, there is a proven correlation between earning certifications, such as LEED and WELL and higher rent rates, increased occupancy and improved tenant and resident satisfaction. With this in mind, it’s fairly safe to draw a similar conclusion about Fitwel, given that its strategies and criteria overlap with both the LEED and WELL frameworks.

Q9. What is the Fitwel Viral Response Module?

The Fitwel Viral Response Module is a separate certification that allows companies to adopt new guidance, policies, and procedures for a multi-faceted approach to mitigate the spread of disease on an asset-level basis. This module was designed and developed in direct response to the demand surrounding COVID-19. The module highlights data-driven strategies that mitigate viral transmission and create a healthy environment for all occupants. This module was developed and designed by Fitwel with great input from health experts and commercial real-estate industry leaders. This is the only type of Fitwel Certification that can be implemented company-wide.

ESG materiality assessments

With investors inquiring more and more frequently about what your company is doing in regard to responsible investment, how you treat employees and vendors, your dedication to sustainability initiatives, and other activities that fall under the ESG umbrella, it’s important to have answers to these questions.

An ESG materiality assessment empowers you to easily report your current state and outline what future initiatives will focus on. Learn what an ESG materiality assessment is, what the benefits for your organization are, how the assessment supports sustainable investment strategies, and how Goby can help support your ESG materiality assessment process and provide strategic benefits for your organization.

Learn more

Nicole Phillips

Nicole joined Goby in July of 2019 as an ESG Consultant. In her role, Nicole supports clients in their efforts to become more energy efficient through various certifications including LEED, Fitwel and Energy Star.

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