Development of Fitwel
Promoting occupant health and wellness is an integral part of GSA’s real estate operations and is central to the agency’s mission to provide effective, mobile, sustainable workplace solutions for federal agencies at the best value for the American Taxpayer. Recognizing the opportunity to positively impact employee well-being through the built environment, GSA partnered with the City of New York and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011 to develop a new building health and wellness rating system called Fitwel. Using an evidence-based approach, this rating system assesses workplace features, including the design of stairwells and outdoor spaces, and policies, such as indoor clean air standards and healthy food standards, shown to impact occupant health and wellness. It is also designed to encourage facility managers to work continually to increase their building’s certification score.
In 2014, Fitwel was piloted in 89 public sector buildings, including 74 GSA-owned facilities. The pilot demonstrated that Fitwel effectively benchmarked the buildings’ support of occupant health and wellness and validated facility manager support and buy-in for using Fitwel. 54 GSA-owned facilities are currently certified [XLS - 18KB].
GSA issued a Request for Information for a third party to administer and implement the Fitwel rating system, with the intent of making the tool available to a broader suite of building types and organizations outside of the federal government. The Center for Active Design (CfDA) was selected and took over the administration and implementation of Fitwel in May 2016. The rating system is currently available to private sector organizations and any other landholding agency. Information on Fitwel is available on CfAD’s Fitwel page.
GSA’s Implementation of Fitwel
GSA currently uses the Fitwel rating system as a tool to assess performance on occupant health and wellness at the building level. GSA leverages the Fitwel certification as it offers a third-party reviewed, benchmarking process and identifies opportunities and low-hanging fruit strategies that support continuous improvement to maximize occupant health, well-being and productivity in GSA owned buildings.