July 2021 — Property Management Quarterly — Page 13 Sustainability NEXT STEP Energy Solutions 59,000,000+ sqft. 12,898 equivalent $74,980,119 56% 19,345,772 lbs. $8,092,632 Converted to LED lighting Utility rebates secured for our customers Autos removed from roads annually CO 2 emissions avoided Average first year return on investment Annual savings realized by our customers For the past ten years, we have offered our customers a turnkey LED lighting retrofit exprience. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the advantages of an LED lighting conversion at your facility. Y ou may have noticed new decals showing up on sev- eral Class A buildings lately. This year, there was a sig- nificant marketing push from the International Well Build- ing Institute, most notably with a Super Bowl commercial featuring Lady Gaga urging people to look for buildings with the WELL Health- Safety seal to feel safe coming back to work. What is this, and what else has emerged in the marketplace? First, the IWBI is a for-profit organization managing a health and wellness building certifica- tion called WELL. With at least one founding member who formerly started LEED with the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, the desire to be able to raise capital changed the structure of the organization behind this rating system. WELL certification (which I will refer to as “standard” WELL below) looks at several aspects of the built envi- ronment and the impact on the humans occupying those spaces. Health and wellness rating systems started gaining some momentum in 2018 and 2019 as a new way to dif- ferentiate assets from the competi- tion … then the pandemic entered. Investors already in the process of looking at health and wellness turned to the IWBI (and others) for direction on how to enhance safety during a global pandemic. A task force on COVID-19 was formed and a new certification called the WELL Health-Safety Rating was released; let’s get back to this momentarily. Emerging as an alternative to the WELL system in the mid-2010s, a nonprofit entity called the Center for Active Design released its own health and well- ness system called Fitwel, which also began to gain trac- tion before the pandemic. There are many similari- ties between the ideas in Fitwel and WELL, but the documentation and structure are quite different, which makes Fit- wel significantly more cost-effective to implement, especially in exist- ing buildings. The program actually came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s extensive review of over 3,000 studies related to the health impact of buildings on the occupants, and its development of guidelines for General Services Administration buildings – both in design and in operation. It has since been contracted to CfAD to admin- ister the rating system. Similar to the IWBI, CfAD felt a need to pro- vide guidance during the pandemic. They released their own system called the Fitwel Viral Response Module. To keep all of this straight, let’s compare and contrast these four different systems. IWBI has WELL and the WELL Health-Safety Rating. “Standard” WELL is a three-year certification with mandatory components and optional components – the struc- ture is quite similar to LEED. The documentation for WELL is fairly intensive and the certification also includes mandatory on-site testing for items like air and water quality by one of IWBI’s approved testing agents. Because of this rigid struc- ture, and because it was created more as a design tool vs. an opera- tions tool, WELL is quite expensive. However, the WELL-Health Safety Rating is almost completely the opposite. There are no mandatory components. Practitioners simply need to implement at least 15 of the available strategies, and the rating is achieved. Many of those strategies are simply policy docu- ments, and some are related to the management team’s benefits packages. Because this is an annual certification, it will be interesting to see what happens over the rest of this year and 2022 now that restric- tions have been lifted, and many buildings are starting to remove sig- nage, distancing, barriers and other pandemic-specific measures. Just like WELL, Fitwel also is a three-year certification. However, unlike WELL, there are no manda- tory components. Project teams can implement any of the options they wish to achieve the minimal score required for the certification, making the program more flexible. If teams elect to test air and water quality, they are free to utilize any vendor they choose or even per- form that testing in-house. The documentation typically consists of photos, annotated floor plans or statements of compliance. Since the entity is a nonprofit, the fees also are dramatically less than WELL. So, again, Fitwel tends to be much lower-cost than WELL, but still is a well-rounded certification due to the number of actions that must be implemented to obtain the minimal score. However, the Fitwel Viral Response Module is quite rigid. There are sev- eral mandatory components, a few of which require consulting with a mechanical engineer, for example. Providing as much fresh air as possible, utilizing MERV 13 filters, requiring personal protective equip- ment, requiring thorough cleaning protocols … many measures proven to be effective for reducing viral spread are required by this program. There are several groups with large regional or national hold- ings pursuing either the WELL Health-Safety Rating or the Fitwel Viral Response Module, including Hines, Franklin Street Properties, Invesco, Unico, Lincoln Property Co. and many more. Again, it will be interesting to see if the programs change over the course of this year to encourage ownership or manage- ment teams to renew these certifi- cations in the absence of distancing markers, PPE, etc. Will they elect to springboard to the “standard” ver- sions of WELL and Fitwel instead? Only time will tell. This will be one more post-pandemic effect for the market to keep its eyes on. For more information, visit well- or . We also will be discussing the standard ver- sions of the systems in the upcom- ing BOMA supplement. s A roundup of pandemic building certifications Amanda Timmons, LEED AP O+M, Fitwel Ambassador President, Ampajen Solutions LLC