The Center for Active Design (CfAD) has formally launched its Fitwel Viral Response module, which provides annual, third-party certification of policies and practices informed by the latest public health research on mitigating the spread of contagious diseases.
The announcement comes as real estate organizations including BentallGreenOak, Brookfield Properties and Nuveen Real Estate commit to adopting the module
Fitwel’s Viral Response module requires that companies follow a set of baseline strategies—actions that are necessary to mitigate the spread of infectious respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. These minimum requirements cover indoor environments, behavioural change, and building occupant trust. They get as detailed as specifying the chemicals that are needed in cleaning products. Fitwel and its advisors intend to update the module annually in accordance with the evolving science.
Joanna Frank, president and CEO of CfAD, says the module represents an evolution of Fitwel’s efforts to promote health and wellness in the built environment. It was developed to set the industry standard in response to COVID-19.
“Fitwel was initially created to optimize built environments for chronic disease prevention,” she said. “Companies can chart their own course within Fitwel Certification to address these long-term issues without minimum requirements. However, infectious disease mitigation is quite different, and the science shows there are baseline requirements that companies absolutely must follow to effectively reduce infectious respiratory disease transmission in buildings.”
Fitwel’s two-step certification process enables companies the flexibility to establish and implement viral response policies at scale. Users establish policies to cover any portfolio, selection of assets or individual tenant spaces that have consistent operational practices, then submit to have these policies certified by CfAD in a six-week, double-blind review process.
Once Viral Response certification is achieved, companies can demonstrate application within specific assets. This step verifies that the strategies have been put into practice, and CfAD recognizes this achievement with a plaque that companies can use to convey to occupants that their spaces are optimized for viral mitigation.
“BentallGreenOak’s role as industry advisor and early adopter of the Center for Active Design’s Fitwel Viral Response module provides us with an industry leading response to COVID-19 to better serve our tenants and community stakeholders, while equipping our property management teams with clear and informed guidance for implementation across our managed portfolio,” said Anna Murray, managing director, global head of ESG, BentallGreenOak.