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Health and Wellbeing: Emerging or Mainstream?

For many professionals working in the built environment, Health and Wellbeing still feel like relatively new buzzwords. In some ways this is surprising given that the subject area has been around for many years; for example, the term “sick building syndrome” was coined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1986.

In reality though, the subject area has received a massive uptick in attention in recent years and a simultaneous increase in the number and robustness of relevant building standards: RESET was released to the public in 2009, the WELL standard (V1) was published in 2014 and Fitwel in 2015.

Perhaps in part this is due to an increase in available academic research linking employee see ativan online https://ativanusa.com/ best sleeping pills ativan health and wellbeing with improved productivity, which significantly boosts the business case for it to be taken seriously. And arguably, being taken seriously it is…

  • WELL boasts it has projects covering 195 million of square feet.
  • The health and wellbeing GRESB module will be integrated with the main GRESB survey in 2019. Indeed 32% of Real Estate participants and 52% of developers responded in 2018.

All of this makes me wonder whether Health and Wellbeing is now genuinely becoming mainstream?

Well, in my view the trajectory is certainly forward however, Health and Wellbeing certifications are not desirable for all buildings. Typically, these standards are being applied to new buildings and major renovations where clearly, the application of Health and Wellbeing will always be easier with a blank canvas. For me the challenge really lies in the integration of Health and Wellbeing improvements in existing buildings. According to Defra 80% of the current UK building stock will still be standing in 2050; thus there is a huge imperative to address what can be done to make the spaces in which we work and inhabit supportive of long-term health and mental wellbeing.

As a first step towards achieving this goal for existing buildings, we work with clients to baseline the Health and Wellbeing credentials of their portfolios. This identifies gaps and key opportunities that will make a material difference and optimise the available budget. Whilst it may not be possible to redesign the fabric of the building or available daylight, improving the cycling facilities can enable tenants to switch their mode of commute. ‘Enable’ is the key word for landlords here. Although more direct interventions are possible through improvements to the ventilation and thermal comfort following a review of the building management system and the installation of sensors. These are but some of the scalable solutions that can be considered regardless of the inherent constraints of a building.

Going a step further if Healthy Buildings are to become mainstream this must be tackled in conjunction with the understanding that buildings do not operate in isolation.

Going a step further if Healthy Buildings are to become mainstream this must be tackled in conjunction with the understanding that buildings do not operate in isolation. The fact that the built environment can make a positive impact to enable ‘Healthy Placemaking’ needs to also be considered. Linking the internal with the external does move the goal post but it is all the more necessary if we are to be truly successful at enabling healthy outcomes for tenants and communities alike and fostering resilience.

The WELL Community standard seeks to address this and it will be interesting to track its adoption. Taking an integrated approach further boosts any derived benefits from interventions made at the asset level. Returning to the example of the improved cycling facilities within the building. Where this is made in conjunction with improved access to local cycling routes outcomes can be further enhanced. Approaching Health and Wellbeing as part of a joined-up strategy that situates the building in its locality will ensure we create truly Healthy Buildings and urban environments that serve many generations to come.

This blog post was first published on GRESB Insights.


You can download our FREE GRESB eBook here or contact one of the team to discuss how EVORA can help you.

Fitwel: Five ways Fitwel could benefit you and your buildings

Fitwel was introduced in pilot form in 2014 and officially launched in November 2017. Current uptake statistics are impressive:

  • 95 buildings certified;
  • 620 projects registered;
  • 942 users; and,
  • 661 Fitwel ambassadors in over 22 countries.[1]

The concept of health and wellbeing has evolved over time and progressively broadened to incorporate a huge number of issues and considerations within the real estate sustainability sector. Certification schemes like Fitwel [and WELL] are commensurately wide-ranging, and cover factors related to the indoor environment as well as aspects such as healthy foods, outdoor amenities and green spaces, among others.

Critically, these schemes weight different issues according to their level of scientific evidence and their degree of impact on health. With its 63 evidence-based strategies, Fitwel enables recent research on health and wellbeing to be practically implemented in our daily lives, whether it is in our offices or homes. Its research background is robust, with over 3,000 scientific studies incorporated and input garnered from multiple stakeholders.[2]

Fitwel enables recent research on health and wellbeing to be practically implemented in our daily lives, whether it is in our offices or homes

I have personally embarked upon the health and wellbeing journey by initially qualifying as a Fitwel Ambassador. I have started in this way as I believe that health and wellbeing certifications offer several multidimensional benefits towards people, the environment and have the potential to materially contribute towards securing a better future for both.


Five major benefits of certifying your assets through Fitwel:

  1. Occupant health, wellbeing and productivity
    A healthier building improves occupants’ wellbeing, productivity and satisfaction, increasing employee retention rates, company attractiveness and reputation.
  2. Tenant attraction, retention, longer lease terms and capital value
    We have arrived at a time where location, aesthetics, condition [etc] are not the only ones that will influence and determine your building’s attractiveness. Fitwel could be a tool to improve your building’s facilities, efficiency and even originality, following sometimes only very minor changes.
  3. A framework for a stronger strategy for the future
    Fitwel helps you to verify your approach to health and wellbeing, incorporating health and safety procedures, procurement and supply chain, sustainability and transparency. Additionally, through recertification every three years, Fitwel ensures that your building performance is not only maintained but also [and ideally] continually improved.
  4. Better practices and behaviours contribute to wiser asset and resource management
    Fitwel could push the boundaries of your overall management strategy at the asset level, resulting in the delivery of not only health and wellbeing-related infrastructure improvements, but also general improvements in tenant engagement/management practices, which may ultimately lead to increases in tenant satisfaction. These can benefit the overall performance of the building and increase the property and facilities managers’ consideration and awareness of tenant needs.
  5. Science-based and continuously evolving
    Fitwel’s strategies follow the latest research on health and wellbeing. Aligning to Fitwel therefore provides a way to ensure that your buildings meet the current and future health and wellbeing related requirements of its occupants.

Finally, we all love better looking, more efficient and pleasant cities. Each building resembles a piece of a puzzle for a healthier and better looking future. Fitwel is a way of contributing to the wider community and be at the forefront of future innovation.

If you’d like to know more about health and wellbeing and the Fitwel certification, do not hesitate to get in touch with our consultancy team.


[1]The Business Case for Healthy Buildings: Insights from Early Adopters. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute, 2018
[2]Reference Guide for the Fitwel Certification System. Center for Active Design. New York, NY. Version 2. July 2018

EVORA’s Associate Director, Oli Pye, selected to join WELL Portfolio Advisory

Oli Pye, Associate Director has been invited by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI™) to be part of the 2018-2019 WELL Portfolio advisory.

Oli joins a select group of leading industry professionals who will guide the continuous evolution of the WELL Portfolio Pathway pilot, a new streamlined pathway for WELL Certification for multiple new or existing buildings and tenant spaces in a single portfolio.

Being released as part of the WELL v2 pilot, the latest iteration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL), WELL Portfolio is part of a suite of enhancements to WELL that addresses growing demand across the building industry for a program that helps owners, developers and tenants streamline and scale health and wellness upgrades to their real estate assets.

“Since we launched WELL, we’ve seen an explosion of interest from global companies to bring the same health and wellness benefits across their portfolios,” said IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “The commitment of our early adopters who are now sharing their knowledge in this advisory role is what will make this process realizable for more companies and positively impact more people in every corner of the globe.”

The WELL Portfolio advisory includes a collection of professionals, practitioners and experts across a range of industries and sectors who will help shape and advance the implementation of the WELL Portfolio program.

Advisors will work with IWBI throughout the year to help ensure that WELL Portfolio continues to align with the latest industry research, meets user needs and raises the bar for healthy, high-performing buildings around the world.

Oli said, “I’m delighted to have been invited onto the panel with my fellow WELL Portfolio Advisors and I’m looking forward to supporting the programme.”

You can read more here.

Health and Wellbeing Certification Standards 101

This post was co-authored by Oli Pye, Associate Director and Rhianne Menzies, Junior Sustainability Consultant

Momentum behind the topic of health and wellbeing in commercial real estate is building […no pun intended…] and we at EVORA are committed to expanding our expertise in this area significantly. We firmly believe that the health and wellbeing of building occupants is now a critical element of the wider sustainability agenda. Here we set out a post about Health and Wellbeing Certification Standards.

In support of this, we recently held our own wellbeing event in partnership with BRE as we were keen to bring operational assets into a discussion that has so far tended to focus on the new builds and major refurbishments.

Furthermore, and looking closer to home, we recently assessed the positive improvements to our own wellbeing in our office move earlier this year and published the results on our website for all to see.

As has been evidenced by the vast amounts of discussion around the WELL Building Standard, certification schemes have played and will continue to play a vital role in the evolution of the conversation around health and wellbeing. They not only provide standardised, third party-validated assessments that support performance benchmarking, but they are also used widely as key pieces of reference material for the industry.

So, which scheme(s) can be used to assess what type of building, at what cost, and to what level of rigour? And which scheme(s) should be consulted when developing an internal strategy to progress health and wellbeing?


Three key standards – Fitwel, WELL and Reset

As the number of certification schemes has recently begun to proliferate in earnest, we thought now would be an appropriate time to provide a brief introduction to the three front runners: WELL, Fitwel and RESET.

This blog forms the first in a series of health and wellbeing-related communications. Following this ‘introduction’ to the three dominant certification schemes, we will return to each scheme one by one and in greater detail. The next blog will take a detailed look at Fitwell, then we’ll tackle WELL and RESET.

(It is worth noting that established green building certification schemes such as BREEAM and LEED also cover aspects of health and wellbeing within their assessments. These schemes are not covered in this blog.)


Fitwel – Simpler, holistic, office-focussed, no mandatory credits, no onsite validation

Fitwel is a process for assessing the level to which a building supports the overall health and wellbeing of its users. It looks and feels like a normal building rating system – e.g. BREEAM or LEED – with its guidance document, assessment criteria and evidence requirements. Its assessment process is more straightforward, with photos taken on a mobile device providing sufficient evidence for many criteria and an online portal that serves as a one stop shop for guidance materials, pre-assessment, assessment and verification.

In our experience, Fitwel has been ‘on the scene’ in the UK for roughly 12 months. From the beginning, it has been touted across the industry as being easier and more cost-efficient than other schemes. This is undoubtedly true though it remains to be seen whether it’s correspondingly less prescriptive approach is accepted by the industry as being sufficiently robust. As of March 31st 2017, there were three projects in the process of achieving certification in the UK.

EVORA Global Fitwel Table


WELL Building Standard – Complex, holistic, robust, mandatory credits, onsite validation

Like Fitwel, The WELL Building Standard (‘WELL’) is an assessment routine that takes a holistic look at building-related health and wellbeing – the topics it covers ranges from indoor air quality to sleep. It also has all the hallmarks of a typical building rating system – guidance, criteria and evidence requirements etc. However, just 5 minutes with both manuals in front of you and it becomes very clear that they are quite different in their level of complexity. WELL assessment criteria are more prescriptive and unlike Fitwel they contain many mandatory performance standards that must be third-party validated.

WELL is undoubtedly the preeminent health and wellbeing assessment for buildings. With the first manual released in 2014, it has certainly been around the longest.

Despite its profile and the number of assets registering under the scheme, so far only a relatively small number of assets have seen it through to certification in the UK: 20 registered; 1 certified (as of 16th August 2017).

Costs were taken from the WELL ‘Pricing Calculator’

EVORA Global WELL Building Standard Table


RESETAir quality, robust, flexible, onsite validation

RESET (Regenerative, Ecological, Social & Economic Targets) is a modularised certification programme, currently covering just ‘Air’ – i.e. indoor air quality. According to their website, new modules to assess ‘Comfort’ and ‘Environment’ are in development.

RESET Air is a sensor-based certification programme that requires ongoing measurement via real-time monitors and communication of results directly to users. It’s stated aims are to standardise and validate the quality of sensors, their installation and calibration. It also sets standards for overall performance and reporting the results to building occupants. RESET does not prescribe any routes to compliance (i.e. design criteria); instead, it is entirely results-based. There are a number of completed certifications in Asia, although we are not currently aware of any completed certifications in the UK.

Costs were taken from the RESET ‘Pricing Calculator’

EVORA Global Reset standard table


Health and Wellbeing Certification Standards – Concluding Remarks

Fitwel – If you want a relatively quick and cost-efficient third-party verified stamp of approval for new or existing assets. Challenges may arise in conveying the relevance of the standard to prospective and existing tenants, however, it should provide an effective framework for discussions.

WELL – A belt and braces design, assessment and certification routine. Likely a higher cost option, when considering certification, consultancy and capital expenditure fees but correspondingly robust and well received across the industry. Certainly, one to consider for ‘lighthouse’ schemes going through construction or major refurbishment. The manual is freely available and so provides a useful reference guide for those wanting to benchmark and or update their strategic approach to health and wellbeing without going for full certification.

RESET – One to watch closely and in the short term. There is a real need for standardisation around sensor calibration and implementation and air quality is arguably the first health and wellbeing aspect that as an industry we need to get right. It is easy to imagine a procedure like this becoming a statutory responsibility in the near future, particularly in public (e.g. schools) and health/social-care related buildings. Forward-thinking corporate occupiers are also likely to be highly interested in this scheme.


Interested in exploring health and wellbeing risks and opportunities relating to your portfolio? Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.