Cushman & Wakefield and Nuveen Real Estate Score Fitwel Two Stars for Wellbeing Excellence

16/09/2019

Cushman & Wakefield supported Nuveen Real Estate in achieving its first Fitwel certification. The Fitwel standard provides an evidence-based blueprint for making positive changes that enhance the health and wellbeing of occupants. Fitwel certification also communicates to occupiers and investors a building’s wellbeing credentials, providing a robust benchmark.

Fitwel Two Star rating for wellbeing excellence at the Steward Building

66% of real estate professionals agree wellbeing features can impact a property’s market success and value

Situation

Nuveen Real Estate is one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world, with a global sustainability strategy that addresses environmental, social and governance issues. Cushman & Wakefield is an international leader in commercial real estate services, with a dedicated Energy, Infrastructure & Sustainability team, including Fitwel Ambassadors and WELL Accredited Professionals located globally.

Nuveen Real Estate has worked with Cushman & Wakefield on energy efficiency and wellbeing programmes across a number of its portfolios. There is growing evidence that designing and managing properties for both energy efficiency and wellbeing performance can impact organisational performance, operational efficiency and ultimately asset value.

For Nuveen Real Estate’s first Fitwel certification, the team chose the Steward Building, a 5,300m2 office and retail building in Spitalfields, London E1. Nuveen Real Estate’s Central London Office Fund bought the Steward Building in 2011, before redeveloping it. The building’s BREEAM Excellent sustainability features and location in the heart of Spitalfields made it a strong candidate for Fitwel. Nuveen Real Estate sold the building to Al Rashed in early 2019.

Actions

Cushman & Wakefield’s Fitwel Ambassadors, WELL Accredited Professionals and Facilities Managers worked together to complete an initial Fitwel gap analysis in the Steward Building. This resulted in several additional initiatives being implemented, including:

  • New signage to promote the use of stairwells.
  • More plants and greenery in common areas.
  • Displays to advertise local amenities, including fitness facilities and restaurants.
  • New building policies such as green procurement, considering factors such as pollutant releases and waste generation when purchasing products and materials for the building.

The team also aligned existing health and wellbeing initiatives in the Steward Building with Fitwel strategies and uploaded evidence to the Fitwel portal. These included:

  • Access to natural light indoors and operable shading.
  • Stairwell accessibility.
  • 38 bike spaces, a ratio of 1 per 15 occupants, along with showers and lockers.
  • Water bottle refilling stations on each floor.
  • Beautiful restorative garden within 500m of the building.
  • Pedestrian pathways linking to nature and separated from motor vehicles.

The Steward Building achieved a Fitwel Two Star rating, scoring 105 out of 144 potential points. Cushman & Wakefield and Nuveen Real Estate are now exploring Fitwel opportunities in additional buildings.

Financial

As an existing high-specification, well-managed building, the Steward Building was already incorporating a number of Fitwel strategies. Additional improvements implemented through the Fitwel process were relatively low-cost, with the main expenditure relating to improvements to signage across the building and biophilic design including new plants and greenery.

For Fitwel fees, visit the Fitwel website.

Benefits

  • Demonstrating to occupiers and investors the Steward Building’s wellbeing credentials, providing a robust benchmark with a Fitwel Two Star rating.
  • Improving engagement with occupiers, who have responded positively to the changes in the building, particularly the promotion of the stairwells.
  • Increasing occupier awareness of surrounding outdoor spaces, including the restorative garden, outdoor seating, shops and fitness facilities, by installing displays and updating the occupier handbook.
  • Supporting the building management team in improving the space for occupiers, for example through greenery and policy improvements.
  • Increasing marketability and responding to changing occupier demand. Since Fitwel certification has been pursued, there have been no vacancies in the building and this will continue to be monitored. Research demonstrates that buildings that prioritise wellbeing lease more quickly.

Challenges & Achievements

STRATEGIES

How to enhance wellbeing without complex building design changes?

Once a building is developed, there can be a perception that it is too late for wellbeing interventions without significant investment. However, the Fitwel scorecard identifies a series of evidence-based strategies to make the most of existing building features and the surrounding environment to enhance wellbeing. Within a few days of Cushman & Wakefield installing signage in the lift area encouraging people to use the stairs, the property team received positive feedback from occupiers that this had motivated employees to change their habit of taking the lift. Studies show that stair climbing uses 9.6 times more energy than the resting state; this is more energy per minute than jogging or rowing. Not only is this an effective way to increase daily physical activity and enhance wellbeing, it can also cut energy use by reducing lift journeys.

FUTURE

How to continue to refine Fitwel to maximise benefits for occupiers, owners and investors?

Cushman & Wakefield’s Fitwel Ambassadors, located globally, provide detailed feedback from clients to Fitwel, to inform the future development of the certification, as well as engaging with Fitwel to understand the science behind its requirements. In June 2019, Fitwel released Fitwel v2.1, which provides updated scorecards, as well as new certification pathways for construction and renovation projects. Some of the key updates in the workplace scorecard include more stringent requirements for indoor air quality and water quality, access to thermal control and further development of stakeholder engagement processes.

“We’ve seen a significant uplift in interest in wellbeing programmes, including Fitwel certification, from property owners, large occupiers and developers. Fitwel’s points-based scorecard is digestible so stakeholders can easily understand what’s involved and the health impacts of pursuing strategies. Based on a breadth of scientific research, Fitwel highlights opportunities to improve wellbeing for occupants and demonstrates a building’s credentials for wellbeing excellence.” 

Annie Goransson, Fitwel Ambassador at Cushman & Wakefield