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Creative PartnershipsAug 27, 2020

QuadReal’s Partnership with Fitwel

Collaborative partnership results in improved health and wellness

Challenge
At QuadReal, we provide spaces to live, work, shop and play. Working closely with our tenants and residents, we create spaces that align with their values and needs. With Canadians spending nearly 90% of our time indoors, mostly where we live and work, there is greater urgency and opportunity to address health and wellness within our built environments. At QuadReal, this leads us to reevaluate how the spaces we provide impact our tenants, residents and guests. We wanted to know what more QuadReal could do to provide healthy places that support our communities.

Approach
We set out to find the best guidance available, preferably based on rigorous peer-reviewed research. This search ultimately led QuadReal to establish a meaningful partnership with The Center for Active Design (CfAD) and Fitwel.

Fitwel is a leading international building certification system that uses research and evidence-based strategies to optimize and support the health of building occupants. In 2016, The CfAD was appointed by the U.S. federal government as the licensed operator of Fitwel with the mandate to expand globally. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is Fitwel’s main research and evaluation partner.

Our partnership with Fitwel has developed to encompass certification, education and research. QuadReal also serves as a member of the Fitwel Advisory Council.

Working with Fitwel helps elevate the health and wellness services and amenities that we offer our tenants and residents across the portfolio.

Jamie Gray-Donald, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & EHS

Solution
In 2018, QuadReal piloted the Fitwel certification program at three office properties in our Canadian portfolio: Commerce Court and Southcore Financial Centre in Toronto, and Park Place in Vancouver. We included buildings we manage where QuadReal is also a tenant so that we could better understand the tenant experience. The certification process helped our property teams identify ways to promote wellness amenities as well as areas for enhancement. Through this pilot process, it became clear that CfAD, Fitwel and QuadReal share a commitment to integrity, collaboration and innovation.

The result of the partnership was the joint publication in 2019 of The Office Guide to Building Health, a free Fitwel resource to promote health and wellbeing within buildings through practical and impactful design and operational strategies. Our goal was to make this tool relevant and user-friendly for our peers, tenants, designers and others. The Office Guide to Building Health outlines health and wellness considerations and opportunities at three stages of occupancy:

    1. determining location and acquiring space
    2. leasing, renovating and fitting out space
    3. establishing policies and programs in existing spaces

The guide addresses the varying health and wellness needs of different organizations, offering relevant and practical suggestions as a starting point to help tenants arrive at solutions that work for them. Download a digital copy of The Office Guide to Building Health.

Outcome
Today, seven QuadReal office properties are Fitwel-certified, with the plan to increase that number over time. We are also actively incorporating choice Fitwel strategies into new residential developments and international partnerships. Additionally, our existing
Canadian office and residential portfolios are undergoing a health and wellness benchmarking process to identify areas for enhancement. We also actively consider Fitwel strategies in our own workplaces. One example of this is the addition of internal staircases in our recent office retrofits, which provide a convenient and active alternative to elevators.

Since The Office Guide to Building Health was published in fall 2019, we have promoted and distributed it to our tenants and at industry events such as BOMEX and the GLOBE Series. In addition, it has been downloaded thousands of times by organizations around the world. This is a testament to the growing focus on health and wellness in the built environment. We recognize that implementing changes that promote positive health and wellbeing outcomes in our buildings is a long-term investment—one we are committed to continue making. What started out for us with a question has grown into a journey of certification, research and knowledge-sharing with a valued partner. In early 2020, QuadReal was honoured to receive Fitwel’s Industry Leadership Award recognizing our proactive efforts.

Our work with CfAD and Fitwel is an important part of our commitment to create living and working environments that enhance the lives of the people and communities we serve. We look forward to continuing to work with our teams, tenants, partners and peers to support healthier built environments for all.

Health and wellness is a top priority for the QuadReal team. As part of these efforts, we have actively partnered with Fitwel not only in certification for our portfolio, but to advance more broadly the standard’s commitment to ‘building health for all’.

Remco Daal, President, Canadian Real Estate

Fitwel Case Study Download (PDF)

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