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Fitwel Standard: measuring residential well-being​

Created By RISC | 3 weeks ago

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We usually spend over 90% of each day indoors so inside environments affect our daily life and our physical and emotional well-being. So building standards consider physical and mental health to create positive settings. ​

​Standards include SOOK by the Thai Green Building Institute and the WELL Building Standard by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). Fitwel looks after the welfare of residents in a distinctive way. ​

The standard was established in 2016. Its criteria include design and building management standards based on research and procedures that adhere to international standards. ​

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US General Services Administration have evaluated Fitwel in US buildings both new and old (GSA). They found it can be used to establish a healthy environment in a variety of buildings with different sizes, ages, and locations. ​


The CDC and GSA spent more than 5 years developing the Fitwel standard, based on over 5,600 research findings and more than 70 best practices. It has 7 key areas for enhancing health, including: ​

1. Impacts Surrounding Community Health: It is intended to boost the health of inhabitants by promoting the health of the surrounding community. An example is public green spaces open to the public for free use. ​

2. Reduces Morbidity and Absenteeism: Physical and emotional illnesses can result from living in an unfavorable environment with cement walls, dirty, humid air, inadequate lighting, and no greenery. A healthy environment helps reduce illness. Such environments include good indoor air quality design and natural light, trees or green spaces, adequate drinking water, and an area to encourage walking or exercise. ​

3. Supports Social Equity for Vulnerable Populations: Supporting the equal access to healthcare of young people, the elderly, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged social backgrounds, for instance by creating universally accessible spaces and placing accessible medical facilities nearby. ​

4. Instills Feelings of Well-Being: Encouraging the creation of green spaces that are clean, secure, and tranquil. Access to nature makes it possible for all kinds of individuals to get together and engage in social activities, helping everyone stay healthy. ​

5. Enhances Access to Healthy Foods: One of the foundational elements of health is food. The layout of the area should promote healthy eating habits, such as easy access to a variety of nutritious foods with discounts to incentivize people to eat them. ​

6. Promotes Occupant Safety: Creating spaces that lower the chance of accidents, such as reducing pedestrian accidents, adding bike lanes nearby, and safe stair design to support emergencies like having an automatic defibrillator (AED) device, are all important aspects of urban planning. ​

7. Increases Physical Activity: People spend a lot of time each day hunched over computer screens, which contributes to ailments like Office Syndrome. Foot support is needed. It is essential to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Ample room for exercise improves health by getting the body moving throughout the day. ​

A unique algorithm is used to determine the Fitwel score, which depends on the potential for positive impact and is supported by concrete proof of the strategy's efficacy. Fitwel offers 3 degrees of recommendation based on star ratings: ​

1 star for 90-104 points. ​
2 stars for 105-124 points ​
3 stars for 125-144 points. ​

Fitwel is a very flexible standard since there are no rules, just points to be scored, which attracts people's interest in certifying structures. We can decide to concentrate on the things that the project can perform to earn high ratings instead of worrying about other challenging needs. The lack of regulations sets Fitwel apart from other construction standards and rating systems. ​

Fitwel also offers extensive support for the following 7 building types:

1. Senior Housing Scorecard (SH) ​
2. Multi-Tenant Base Building (MTBB) ​
3. Multi-Tenant Whole Building Scorecard (MTWB) ​
4. Single Tenant Building Scorecard (ST) ​
5. Commercial Interior Space Scorecard (CI) ​
6. Retail Scorecard (RT) ​
7. Multifamily Residential Building Scorecard (MFR) ​

In addition to building certification, Fitwel now also offers site certification, including: ​

1. Community Scorecard (CM) ​
2. Commercial and Industrial Site Scorecard (C&I) ​

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fitwel developed the Fitwel Viral Response Module (VRM), an international standard for building safety from infectious illnesses and encouraging good health in the building. This module was created by health professionals and industry leaders. This is a suggestion based on research that has solid scientific evidence and third-party certification to reduce indoor virus transmission, such as controlling indoor air quality, humidity, air filtration, adding sufficient ventilation to reduce airborne infections, controlling water quality to be safe from Legionellosis, regular cleaning protocols in each area and surface in the building, to be free from germs, viruses, and communication to educate health professionals. ​

If you are interested in more information about the Fitwel standard, learn more at www.fitwel.org ​

Story by Phetcharin Phongphetkul, Sustainable Designer/ LEED®AP BD+C, WELLTM AP,Fitwel Ambassador, TREES-A NC, RISC ​

References: ​
Fitwel: https://www.fitwel.org/solutions , Fitwel Viral Response Module (VRM): https://www.fitwel.org/viral-response-module ​
Introduction WELL V2: https://v2.wellcertified.com/en/wellv2/overview ​
The SOOK Building Standard: https://tgbi.or.th/news-activities/annoucement/2021/08/24/1426/ ​

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