FITWEL: Optimizing buildings to support health

Fitwel was launched in 2017 after five years of development and pilot studies, and, in 2018 released its cutting-edge building standard, onto the Health and Wellbeing market.   Fitwel offers key services to certify an office or multi-family property as follows:

1. Prioritizing wellness within the design, development, and operations of buildings.

2. Exceptional science research studies focused on optimizing health in a building in the best way possible.

3. Ensuring company leadership in the cutting-edge sustainability industry.

4. Building a stronger community by educating and cultivating the health and wellness for employees and residents.

The Workplace and Multifamily Residential ScorecardOpens in a new tab. provided by Fitwel can be used as a working document for teams to assess projects against the Fitwel Strategies standards and information for achieving Fitwel Certification. These include strategies, public health rationale, documentation required, and associated point allocations.

The International WELL Building Standard: Opens in a new tab.Focuses on the people in the buildingOpens in a new tab.

IWBS (or WELL),Opens in a new tab. within its first year, had nearly 80 projects registered or certified across five continents. Also, it has enjoyed a year of unchallenged, unparalleled acceptance as the only choice for Health and Wellbeing certification in the built environment.  Latest statistics reported by WELL illustrates the Standards continued success, 932 projects encompassing over 175 million square feet are applying WELL across 35 countries. Similar to Fitwel, WELL aims to promote happiness and productivity to the forefront of building practices and reinvent buildings so that they are ergonomically sound.  This maximizes productivity by reducing discomfort and enhances overall well-being and improving everyone’s lives. WELL is the pioneer in focusing attention solely on the health and wellness of building occupants, including:

  1. Identifying 102 performance metricsOpens in a new tab., design strategies, and procedures that can be implemented by the owners, designers, engineers, contractors, users, and operators of a building.

  2. WELL is based on a thorough review of the existing research on the effects of indoor spaces on individuals, and has been advanced through a comprehensive peer review.

  3. To achieve the requirements of the WELL Building Standard, space must undergo a process that includes an onsite assessment and performance testing by a third-party.

WELLOpens in a new tab., v2Opens in a new tab. is currently in pilot and operates on a points-based system, with a total of 110 points available to each project.

What are the differences between Fitwel and WELL?

WELL is undeniably well-researched, with the only common complaint leaning towards it being too scientific, whereby the Workplace Scorecard of Fitwel is far simpler, with less scientific jargon and minimal medical mumbo-jumbo.Opens in a new tab.

FITWEL appears to be equally well-rounded.  However, how they operate is more manageable.  FITWEL is undeniably a more practical, low-impact and user-friendly building certification.  An uncomplicated online portal and the substantially smaller price tag makes FITWEL seem the younger, cooler and more techno-savvy sibling of the paper-heavy WELL standard.

WELL has been widely critiqued as being both too expensive and too difficult and FITWEL offers an appealing alternative of small steps in the right direction. Perhaps this more manageable alternative could lead to the spiraling popularity of health and wellbeing strategies to buildings worldwide.  However, WELL sets the highest standards – the buildings we live in; the buildings we work in, and everything in them, can be designed to improve our lives, and boost–not encumber our health and well being.

Like WELL, FITWEL remains in development and will undoubtedly release updates like its predecessor.  These iterations will undoubtedly push the standard to offer suitably challenging targets to all future users and ensure real progress in the field of health and wellbeing. And, it is the hope that a more accessible approach will be open to all.

Both standards can undeniably learn from each other, and the impact of competition on the market can only have positive effects. FITWEL could stand to include some of WELL’s credit precision and more ambitious targets, and equally WELL could be revolutionized by including some more user-friendly technologies.

When it comes to the impact of these two wellness standards, they are undeniably both champions and these prevalent organizations have reason to be hailed (both receive high scores).

However, they are not the same, and they will not realistically compete with each other. FITWEL is a much simpler, mass-market approach to health and wellbeing than the exceptionally comprehensive WELL Building Standard.

With progress, further development and research, the future for health and wellness will be looking and ‘feeling’ good!

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