09/29/2022 | by Sarah Borchersen-Keto

Healthy building environments have become an essential requirement for attracting and retaining tenants, and also for ensuring that real estate assets avoid becoming stranded for failing to meet baseline requirements, says Joanna Frank, president and CEO of the Center for Active Design (CfAD), operator of the Fitwel healthy building certification system.

Speaking on the REIT Report, Frank noted that “health is seen as essential. It is seen as table stakes. If you want to attract and retain tenants, you really need to be able to answer that question of ‘how is this a health-promoting environment?’”

For investors, Frank pointed to “a distinct possibility of having stranded assets, of actually seeing your asset become less valuable, if you aren't meeting that baseline for being a healthy building because your peers and your competitors are able to articulate that.”

Frank noted that scientific evidence strongly supports the connection between the physical attributes of buildings and the way buildings are operated and maintained, and the measurable impact that those are having on all aspects of health. She added that there are 5,600 peer reviewed research studies behind Fitwel that have come that have been published by academic institutions around the world, primarily over the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, Frank noted that as Fitwel takes the next steps in addressing issues of health and wellness, it has released a new guide to measuring the ‘S’ in ESG.

“This is a big step forward because one of the big barriers to S, and to being able to report on S, was an understanding of what metrics we should be gathering as an industry in order to articulate your risk as it's represented from that people perspective,” Frank said.

Fitwel will be continuing to support the industry at both the asset level, but increasingly at the entity level, “because that is what's needed when it comes to meeting demand for those investor reporting metrics,” Frank said.

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