In response to COVID-19, Fitwel users continue to demonstrate their commitment to health with company-wide adoption of viral mitigation policies impacting diverse commercial and residential assets
NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Fitwel®, the healthy building certification system, is pleased to announce that QuadReal Property Group and The Tower Companies are among the first companies to certify their policies using the Viral Response (VR) module, further reflecting their leadership in advancing health and wellness through design and development practice. This achievement demonstrates how both property owners and operators have mobilized to adopt Fitwel's evidence-based operational policies and best practices to combat the spread of infectious respiratory diseases in their properties and build trust among occupants.
QuadReal, a global real estate investment, operating and development company, and The Tower Companies, which owns a diverse collection of commercial properties in the Washington, D.C., region, have long prioritized occupant health and wellness as part of their broader ESG and social impact initiatives. Both organizations are Fitwel Champions, having each committed to use Fitwel's health-focused design and operations strategies at scale across their respective portfolios. Adopting Fitwel's VR module – which was developed in coordination with leading public health experts and real estate companies – enables them to effectively address the unique challenges associated with COVID-19 and other infectious respiratory diseases.
Jamie Gray-Donald, Senior Vice President of Sustainability & Environmental, Health & Safety at QuadReal, said, "We've been working with Fitwel for three years to advance health and wellness initiatives across our portfolio, and they've become a trusted advisor. The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the role our buildings can play in mitigating the spread of infectious disease. The VR module was critical in helping us identify areas for improvement and in tailoring a policy specific to our needs. When our tenants are ready to return to the office, they can be assured that our practices align with Fitwel's science-based approach."
Jonathan Bauer, Sustainability Manager at The Tower Companies, commented, "The bottom line is that our employees and tenants are our most important stakeholders, and everything we do is to earn their trust. This philosophy was central to how we explored different ways to optimize our buildings to mitigate viral transmission. We recognize the power that comes with third-party validation, so for us it was about working with a partner that understands our stakeholders and the science behind these efforts. Fitwel's guidance has been invaluable in helping us establish a robust and effective viral response, furthering our commitment to prioritize our occupants' health and wellness."
The VR module was intentionally designed to offer property owners and operators the flexibility to establish effective viral mitigation protocols for commercial and residential asset types. Both firms cited their relationships with the Fitwel team, the applicability of the module across their differentiated portfolios, the evidence-based approach and extensive research that has informed the VR module as core reasons for seeking the certification. Unlike other solutions, Fitwel's VR module has established best practices for companies to follow by setting minimum requirements that are necessary to mitigate viral transmission, while providing turnkey policies to ensure an efficient and consistent approach to guide the industry.
Joanna Frank, President and CEO of CfAD, said, "The fact that two leading and highly different companies in QuadReal and Tower have been able to certify their policies so quickly within the VR module clearly reflects the ease with which companies of all sizes can apply these strategies across their portfolios. We are immensely grateful to our industry and academic advisors, who have risen to the COVID-19 challenge to help us create and refine this incredible tool. We also commend our early users for recognizing the importance of viral mitigation and working proactively to safeguard the health of their tenants and employees."
Fitwel's two-step VR module certification process enables companies the flexibility to establish and implement viral response policies at scale. Users can establish policies to cover any portfolio, selection of assets or individual tenant spaces that have consistent operational practices, then submit to have their policies certified by CfAD in a six-week, double-blind review process. Once the certified strategies are implemented at the asset level, companies can submit to CfAD for asset-level approval. 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, Harrison Street, QuadReal Property Group, Tishman Speyer, Triovest Realty Advisors, and Vornado Realty Trust are among the companies that served as the industry advisors that prototyped the module. A group of highly respected public health experts from leading institutions such as Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Queensland University of Technology served on the module's academic advisory board and advised on its strategies.
About Fitwel and the Center for Active Design
Fitwel is the world's leading certification system committed to building health for all®. Generated by expert analysis of 5,600+ academic research studies, Fitwel is implementing a vision for a healthier future where all buildings and communities are enhanced to strengthen health and well-being. Fitwel was originally created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and U.S. General Services Administration. The CDC remains the research and evaluation partner for Fitwel. The Center for Active Design, a global not-for-profit organization, was selected as the licensed operator of Fitwel, charged with expanding Fitwel to the global market. To learn more about Fitwel, please visit: www.fitwel.org.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, QuadReal Property Group is a global real estate investment, operating and development company. QuadReal manages the real estate and mortgage programs of British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), one of Canada's largest asset managers with a $171.3 billion portfolio. QuadReal manages a $44.2 billion portfolio spanning 23 Global Cities across 17 countries. The company seeks to deliver strong investment returns while creating sustainable environments that bring value to the people and communities it serves. Now and for generations to come.
About The Tower Companies
For three generations, the family-owned Tower Companies has maintained a commitment to responsible development and continues to envision a world where buildings inspire and enrich the lives of their occupants and create positive social change. The sustainable building leader owns, develops, and manages over 6 million square feet in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area consisting of office buildings, office parks, lifestyle centers, regional malls, eco-progressive live-work-play communities and hotels, with an additional 13 million square feet in the development pipeline. In 2004, The Tower Companies was the first in the United States to achieve LEED® certification at a multi-family community, Blair Towns, and since then, 95 percent of their commercial and multi-family residential properties have achieved LEED® certification and 80 percent are ENERGY STAR® certified. In addition, Tower publicly reports their portfolio's carbon footprint to The Climate Registry and offsets 100 percent of GHG emissions by supporting renewable energy projects in North America. Through a partnership with the Department of Energy, the Tower Companies pledged to reduce energy and water consumption 20 percent by 2020, then surpassed those targets in 2017. The Tower Companies is an international authority in the industry and has been recognized for its commitment to sustainability and energy independence by numerous national organizations and federal agencies, including the U.S. Green Building Council, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and more.
SOURCE Center for Active Design