Which Wellness tool is best for Australian Businesses?
A comparison of Fitwel and WELL
Indoor environments influence and impact almost every aspect of our lives as Australians, from the way we feel, our ability to focus all the way to how well we sleep and rest. Modern-day life has had an increasingly negative impact on our overall well-being as humans with sedentary behaviour, unhealthy diets, pollution exposure and nature-deprivation leading to health difficulties, social isolation, loneliness, reduced ability to focus and stress. By enhancing the quality of our indoor environments, we can transform our built environments into vessels for increased individual health and well-being, and improved employee productivity and retention.
What are the benefits?
Why are 49% of building owners and occupiers willing to pay more for buildings that have a positive impact on the health and wellness of its occupants? This is because research has demonstrated time and time again that wellness programs, and wellness optimised spaces reduce employee absenteeism and increase staff productivity and retention. Making these spaces appealing to tenants, employers and employees alike.
There are two key frameworks and rating programs that help organisations understand areas for improvement and articulate their performance in the wellness space, these have been reviewed and compared below.
WELL: The WELL Building Standard is third-party certified program which is administered by the Green Business Certification Incorporation (GBCI). It is a system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.
FITWEL: Developed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), it is aimed at helping employers evaluate all the design factors that go into creating a healthy workplace, from proximity to public transit, bike parking, indoor air quality, healthy food access, and stairwell design.
SCOPE & EASE OF USE:
WELL: sets performance requirements in seven areas relevant to occupant health in the space – Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.
The scientific rigor of WELL is thorough, and although it can be cumbersome and administratively time consuming, the program results in positive human health impacts which also yields increased employee productivity and decreased number of sick days. Complex documentation must be collected and reported for WELL, including annotated project documents, drawings, and letters of assurance from the project team. Performance Verification is required and includes a site visit from a certified professional called a WELL Assessor.
WELL is designed primarily for commercial office space, and has different requirements for new and existing buildings, new and existing interiors, and core and shell projects.
FITWEL: measures health within 12 areas of design and operations: Location, Building Access, Outdoor Spaces, Entrances and Ground Floor, Stairwells, Indoor Environment, Workspaces, Shared Spaces, Water Supply, Cafeterias and Prepared Food Retail, Vending Machines and Snack Bars, and Emergency Procedures. The Fitwel score provides benchmarking and allowing organisations to make improvements across their property to improve their rating.
Certification is optional and can be pursued at any point by uploading documentation for review. Similar to the WELL standard, Fitwell is designed mainly for commercial office buildings, and has different requirements for multi-tenant buildings, single-tenant buildings and commercial interiors spaces.
WELL: has registration fees that range from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on the size of the project. Additional certification fees are assessed on an as needs basis and range from $0.42/sq ft – $0.58/sq ft for new and existing buildings or interiors. The rigor and complexity of WELL typically requires the engagement of an external consultant which encounters a fee, usually in the order of >$100,000.
FITWEL: has project registration and certification fees with a total maximum cost of $7,000 per projects/project. The program is designed to be simple so that those who own or occupy buildings can achieve certification without engaging a consultant. However, consultants are available to coordinate and advise on the project, including delivering an improvement gap-analysis and road map to uplift your spaces.
THE WHOLE PICTURE
Fitwel is an accessible, affordable, and highly practical starting point for benchmarking and optimising your space for occupant health. Comparatively, WELL offers more scientific and administration rigor at a higher price point, yet ultimately allows for a higher level of performance and competitive differentiation for buildings that pursue it as it is more widely known.
By subscribing to either system, building owners and corporate users can gain a competitive advantage in the race for buildings that result in healthy and productive people.
If you would like to learn more about how to improve the wellness of your buildings and organisation, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.