Menkes Developments is the first Canadian real estate company to become a Fitwel Champion. Fitwel is a new metric-based certification program that measures the physical, emotional and mental well-being of people in the workplace through targeted improvements to design and operational policies.
“We are addressing an emerging trend in the real estate market that employees want work spaces that support their health and wellness goals” says Peter Menkes, president of the commercial and industrial division of Menkes. “Being an active partner in promoting health and wellness in our buildings is an investment in our occupants, tenants and buildings, just as our leadership in sustainability has been.”
Fitwel addresses health within seven health impact categories, including community health, morbidity and absenteeism, social equality, physical activity, occupant safety, and a sense of well-being. The certification assesses building and workplace features—including the design of stairwells and outdoor spaces, proximity to public transit and fitness facilities, indoor air quality, and healthy food standards—against a baseline of criteria that create a health-promoting environment.
“Fitwel will be used as a measuring stick in creating healthier work environments,” says Jon Douglas, director of sustainability for Menkes. “Employees spend an increasing amount of time indoors and the buildings they work in have an impact on their health. We actively promote health and wellness at our properties by creating opportunities for occupants to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
As part of the Fitwel certification process, Menkes has committed to implementing a Real Estate Wellness Program with efforts such as encouraging physical activity, supporting mental health, and promoting nutrition and good hygiene. Specific strategies include encouraging occupants to use the building stairs and making properties more bicycle-friendly. Communications outreach will focus on mental health awareness and promoting healthy food options on-site and within walking distance of the workplace. Another component of the communications strategy will highlight preventative initiatives that support good health, for example hosting onsite flu clinics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration led the development of Fitwel. The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is the operator leading its widespread adoption and future development.