A new report from the Centre for Active Design (CfAD), in collaboration with QuadReal Property Group, points to the positive ways healthy building strategies can drive value in real estate. Released June 8th, the report’s findings support the long-advised notion that investing in the health of a building leads to higher tenant satisfaction ratings and better financial outcomes.
“Demand for healthy buildings has never been higher, and now the case for investing in them is even stronger,” said Joanna Frank, President and CEO of CfAD, operator of Fitwel. “This research makes clear the value of benchmarking to transform the information about a portfolio into a pathway that owners and investors can act on to plan future investments. At scale, this will solidify health-promotion interventions as best practices across the real estate sector.”
While public health research has addressed the link between the built environment and the health of occupants for decades, COVID-19 has underscored the need for better benchmarking and reporting. Commercial building owners are under greater pressure to provide data that shows exactly how their properties are impacting the health and well-being of those who live and work there.
According to Meirav Even-Har, National Manager, Wellness & Healthy Buildings at QuadReal Property Group, the road to transparency is easier than ever, thanks to industry tools and certification programs like Fitwel.
“Pursuing benchmarking using Fitwel has enabled us to analyze healthy building strategies for our domestic residential portfolio, which in turn informs future investment and operating procedures,” she said. “For our industry, benchmarking and certification helps create a standard set of health and wellness indicators that redefines best-in-class buildings.”
So, what constitutes “healthy”?
While no two properties are exactly alike, some of the features of a healthy apartment building include units that offer adequate daylight, views of nature, access to fresh air, indoor greenery, yoga studies, hygiene signage, proof of certification and sanitation stations. At the facility level, all systems and equipment should be properly maintained, with high efficiency and operational standards that prioritize, health, safety, and the environment.
Though there is no shortage of rewards that come from investing in the health of a building, findings outlined in the new report show the following direct correlations:
- properties located in walkable districts with plenty of amenities and access to nearby services command higher rents;
- properties that conduct regular maintenance and implement operational strategies to clean, monitor, and improve building systems have higher occupant satisfaction ratings;
- properties with healthy food access via food courts, farmers markets, or grocery stores in close proximity to the building, are more attractive to residents and represent a great opportunity for developers.
“One of the QuadReal team’s sustainability goals is to provide healthy buildings to our tenants and residents so they can flourish,” said Jamie Gray-Donald, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & EHS at QuadReal. “From the start, we believed that investing in best-in-class operations and amenities would make healthier spaces. This aligns with our commitment to be a responsible company. Thanks to our collaboration with CfAD, we have found a clear correlation between a higher Fitwel score with a greater willingness of occupants to recommend the building to their friends and colleagues. This reinvigorates our conviction to invest in healthy buildings and benchmark wellness more broadly in our portfolio.”
New healthy benchmarking tool
Launched in tandem with the report, Fitwel has also introduced a “Portfolio Benchmarking Tool” that will allow building owners and investors to assess how a single asset or entire portfolio is impacting occupant health.
The new tool enables the user to calculate how their operating decisions will impact mental, social, and physical health outcomes, allowing them to invest more wisely and reap the rewards of better overall health.
To learn more about the Fitwel standards or to access the complete report, visit fitwel.org