Guide outlines key areas and metrics for quantifying the “S” in ESG reporting for real estate to boost entity-wide performance
NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Fitwel announced today new insights to support the correlation between implementing health-promoting operational and design strategies and value in real estate, advancing its efforts to quantify ESG from a people-perspective. The announcement comes on the heels of Fitwel’s publication of the Guide to Measuring “S”, a resource that outlines 5 key areas and metrics for quantifying S in ESG reporting for the real estate industry. The correlation highlights that by using health as the basis to measure and evaluate ESG performance, it is possible to not only increase ESG scores, but also mitigate material risk and increase value at the asset and entity levels – all while improving occupant health.
With global ESG-aligned assets on track to exceed $50 trillion by 2025, third-party healthy building certification systems like Fitwel will increasingly be relied upon for tracking and integrating health-related ESG metrics. In the real estate sector, the role of ESG considerations has traditionally focused on structural building risk rather than people-centric risk because it is easier to quantify. Fitwel and its real estate partners see this as a missed opportunity — entities that don’t focus on optimizing the health of the occupants’ risk undermining investment performance.
Fitwel was originally created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and is now operated by nonprofit research organization, the Center for Active Design (CfAD) which is charged with expanding Fitwel to the global market. The Fitwel Standard translates the global public health evidence base into practical, implementable design and operational strategies and guidelines to be used at the building level, community level and at scale. The Fitwel Platform integrates asset- and entity-level benchmarking, a streamlined healthy building certification process, and is also currently building out “S” focused ESG data insights for leading global real estate companies.
The Guide to Measuring ‘S’ outlines select strategies that impact health across five areas – Location, Operations and Performance, Amenities, Design, and Programming and Evaluation – and maps them to quantifiable metrics, including Walkscore and Tenant Satisfaction. The connection between these strategies and health are substantiated by 100+ years of public health research and the metrics identified are supported by recent reports, including Fitwel’s Health Drives Value for Real Estate. This benchmarking study, conducted in partnership with QuadReal Property Group, showed that as a property’s Fitwel score increases through the application of Fitwel strategies, such as access to public transit, implementation of a robust indoor air quality policy, and walkability, the median score for property recommendation, or Net Promoter Score, also tends to increase. Not only does a property’s walkability promote physical activity and social interaction, but it can also reduce car use and in turn, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Combined, these impacts address the trifecta of physical, social, and mental health—all while increasing ESG scores.
To help put the “S” Guide into practice, Fitwel also released the Fitwel-GRESB Crosswalk for Workplace and Multifamily Scorecards, a tool that compares Fitwel strategies to real estate’s leading ESG framework, GRESB Real Estate Assessment. These resources, along with the Fitwel Platform, further advance market transformation for the healthy building movement, providing globally standardized, science-backed strategies that are now central to investor decision-making and strategy.
“Investing in health has never been more paramount. It took about ten years to create a consensus around defining the metrics in the environmental pillar of ESG, and now, there is growing demand for reliable metrics to quantify the Social pillar,” said Joanna Frank, President and CEO of Active Design Advisors, Inc., and CfAD, the operators of Fitwel. “Fitwel is committed to supporting the effort to reach a consensus on the S as quickly as possible, using what was learned from the environmental movement and what we already know about the connection between the built environment and health outcomes through evidence-based health-promoting strategies.”
Leading real estate companies — many designated Fitwel ‘Champions’ and Best in Building Health honorees from previous years — have already been integrating Fitwel into their ESG reporting, highlighting the critical role the platform plays in strengthening their commitment to social responsibility and ultimately driving entity-wide value.
Joanna Frank will be speaking at IMN’s ESG & Decarbonization in Real Estate Forum in Nashville on February 7th and 8th. She will be presenting on February 7th on the panel, ESG as a Driver for Real Estate Valuation. Nadine Rachid, Senior Vice President of Standard and Product Development at the Center for Active Design, will also participate in Using PropTech to Future Proof Buildings Against Risk and Drive Sustainability at the forum.
To learn more and download Fitwel’s ESG resources, visit https://fitwel.org/esg.
S Guide Release Blog – post date: 2/7/23