People spend 90% of their time indoors, where the majority of exposure time and the concentration of indoor air pollutants are actually higher. Suboptimal air quality in commercial buildings will lead to poor health, absenteeism and reduced productivity among tenants and employees.
The growing concern with the adverse effects of traditional buildings on human health encourage developers and building owners to go the extra mile by devising new plans to make built spaces healthier; this has given rise to health-focused rating systems such as the Fitwel certification.
What Is Fitwel?
Fitwel is a rating system and certification program developed in 2016 by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA) for commercial buildings, single-tenant, multi-tenant and retail establishments. This system outlines and evaluates all the standards and best practices of a built environment.
Fitwel aims to accomplish the following:
- Promote occupant safety
- Instill feelings of well-being
- Improve physical activity
- Enhance social equality
- Impact community health
- Reduce absenteeism, and;
- Provide healthier food options
Fitwel is often hailed as one of the most attainable building certifications these days. Unlike other rating systems available in the market, Fitwel does not demand a list of prerequisites to achieve the certification, it is a free design and construction program with a minimum number of points to collect.
How Does Fitwel Work?
Eligibility for Fitwel Certification is evaluated using a Scorecard. This Scorecard consists of 12 elements that are known to contribute to workplace health and well-being:
- Outdoor Spaces
- Building Access
- Water Supply
- Vending Machines
- Entrances and Ground Floors
- Indoor Environments
- Shared Spaces
- Food Services
- Emergency Procedures
Buildings and project sites accumulate points within each element. An establishment earning more than 90 points achieves the one-star or the basic Fitwel Certification, more than 104 points for the two-star or the intermediate level of certification and three-star certification for buildings earning 125 to 144 points.
The Fitwel Certification process can take 12 weeks and includes 6-steps to complete:
Step 1: Register the project by creating a company account and entering the necessary information in the Fitwel portal.
Step 2: The company shall evaluate and determine which Scorecard element suits its project or building establishment and how well it qualifies to each Fitwel strategy.
Step 3: Archive the answers to the Fitwel strategies to compare project improvement over time.
Step 4: Submit all the necessary documents showing how the project complies with the Fitwel strategies.
Step 5: Within 12 weeks, the Fitwel certification team will review the project and provide comments for the project owner to address.
Step 6: The certification team will score the project according to the above rating process. The Fitwel certification lasts for three years once it has been issued. The project may be filed for recertification for a discounted price if submitted within three years starting from the initial certification date.
Making Buildings Fitwel-Certified Through IAQ Strategies
Listed under the Scorecard element of “Indoor Environments” are the strategies that building managers can adopt to achieve Fitwel certification. These strategies include (6.3) Developing indoor air quality policy, (6.4) Testing air quality and (6.5) Reporting air quality results to the building occupants.
(6.3) Adoption of indoor air quality policy
An indoor air quality policy shall be implemented in line with Fitwel. Having an IAQ policy in place will help building owners determine areas where the air quality is problematic and needs to be improved. To earn points, an IAQ policy shall be effective in all building aspects including renovation and construction and shall be incorporated in the leasing manual.
(6.4) Testing air quality
Fitwel includes IAQ monitoring and testing as part of the strategy. This can help building owners to set IAQ benchmarks, assess the effectiveness of the current IAQ policy and help buildings comply with the below Fitwel air measurements and earn scores:
- PM2.5: <25 μg/m³
- CO2: <1100 ppm or 700 over ambient
- CO: <9 ppm
- Formaldehyde: < 27 ppb
- TVOC: < 500 μg/m³
- Relative humidity: between 30-60%
In addition to this, air quality testing and monitoring must be done after any building activity including renovation and construction, it shall also be implemented in all constantly tenanted spaces after occupancy.
(6.5) Reporting air quality results to the building occupants.
To promote data transparency, confidence and environmental awareness, Fitwel urges air quality testing results to be reported and shall be made available to regular tenants through a digital platform or tenant manuals.
Earn Fitwel Scores With uHoo Aura
uHoo Aura can assist owners in implementing the above strategies and attain points by improving indoor air quality in commercial buildings.
uHoo Aura captures information about indoor air quality and transforms it into readable measurements. Equipped with temperature, humidity, CO2, TVOC and nine other sensors, uHoo Aura provides the competence to know what’s in the air to help building owners come up with an IAQ protocol that can effectively address air issues and be approved for certification.
Its modular sensor design enables users to remove and replace old modules with the new ones seamlessly without having to return the whole device to the manufacturer for maintenance. This ensures cost-efficiency, data accuracy, long-term performance and continuous monitoring of air quality in commercial buildings without downtime and significant additional costs.
uHoo Aura comes with a dashboard that displays real-time information on the status of the building’s current IAQ. This device also grants users the control to share IAQ data and meet Fitwel’s transparency requirements.
Fitwel strategies supported by uHoo
Implementing IAQ solutions that are certification-ready can be easily achieved with the right IAQ monitoring system. Contribute to a building’s sustainability, increase tenant trust and attraction. Make your building Fitwel-certified with uHoo Aura.