Frasers Property Achieves Two Global Firsts for Wellbeing

30/11/2021

Frasers Property UK has become the first company in the world to gain a three-star Fitwel accreditation for wellbeing excellence at a business park. It has also achieved the largest Fitwel certified area globally, following the successful accreditation of three business parks: Winnersh Triangle, Chineham Park and Farnborough – the latter achieving the coveted three-star rating. The Fitwel standard assesses holistic health and provides a blueprint for positive changes that are scientifically proven to enhance occupier health and wellbeing.

Largest Fitwel certified area in the world

Highest score for a business park globally – 3 stars

Contributing to occupier wellbeing

Demonstrating good ESG management

Situation
 

Frasers Property holds the largest business park portfolio under single ownership in the UK. All their business parks are well-connected, with landscaped green spaces, safe street infrastructure, cafés, gyms and events. This strengthens the connection between people and their place of work. 

Through its Rethinking Sustainability strategy, Frasers Property UK is committed to enhancing its business parks to support customers and global sustainability goals, including promoting health and wellbeing. After developing and implementing a health and wellbeing framework across all its parks, Frasers Property decided to seek formal external accreditation through Fitwel. This global certification standard assesses holistic health, including:

  • Public realm access and pedestrian connectivity.
  • Proximity to open spaces.
  • Outdoor fitness areas and community destinations.
  • The provision of healthy food.
  • Embedding social resilience, occupant safety and emergency preparedness.

Drivers for certification included communicating the health and wellbeing benefits of business parks to occupiers. Wellbeing credentials are a powerful part of the appeal of business parks, particularly after national lockdowns, with their outdoor spaces providing opportunities for physical activity, social interaction and connection to nature.

Together with managing agent MAPP, Frasers Property began the process of Fitwel accreditation in February 2021 at Winnersh Triangle in Reading, Chineham Park in Basingstoke and Farnborough Business Park in Farnborough. 

Actions
 

Frasers Property UK’s Sustainability Manager, Amira Hashemi, led the process internally, supported by MAPP’s Sustainability Manager and local property teams, who gathered evidence for each park.

The Fitwel scorecard assesses outdoor and common areas on site accessible by all occupiers. These are in abundance at Frasers Property’s business parks, which feature green public spaces, nature trails, public art installations, outdoor gyms, social seating, pathed walkways connecting to infrastructure and universal access for wheelchairs and pushchairs, as well as access to healthy food options and free bikes for use around the parks. 

The teams gained extra points for health-promoting events open to all occupiers, such as yoga, pilates and bootcamps. Frasers Property and MAPP were also recognised for their extensive occupier engagement, including through events and surveys. At Winnersh Triangle, a valued existing occupier and fitness expert, Move HQ, was recently involved in the design of a new sports building on the park, called The Cabin, and an AstroTurf pitch, called The Court, which they were then invited to operate.

Through the certification process, Frasers Property and MAPP identified opportunities to enhance the consistency of some policies across the business parks, including cleaning protocols, hazardous waste management and pest management. A gap analysis for each park also identified upgrades that the team is now prioritising to further boost mental and physical wellbeing for occupiers and meet extra Fitwel criteria upon recertification. These include:

  • Planting a fruit and vegetable garden for occupiers, at least 2,500 sq ft in size, that includes raised beds and has a weekly maintenance plan during peak season.
  • Installing drinking water fountains in all outdoor areas, with bottle refilling taps, compliant with international standard ISO 21542:2011.
  • Launching air quality testing in outdoor spaces such as fitness areas and car parks. This will be in addition to existing indoor air quality testing. 
  • Introducing an idle reduction policy and installing signage, to encourage drivers to reduce emissions and enhance air quality.
  • Farnborough Business Park gained three stars, the top rating for Fitwel, achieved by only 5% of Fitwel projects globally – and the first for a business park. Winnersh Triangle and Chineham Business Parks both achieved two stars, representing wellbeing excellence. Frasers Property now plans to hold a Fitwel engagement tour for occupiers, highlighting features that support wellbeing and outlining improvement opportunities.

Financials

It cost around £15,000 per business park to achieve certification. 

Benefits

The value gained from Fitwel exceeded expectations, including:

  • Demonstrated to occupiers how Winnersh Triangle, Chineham and Farnborough Business Parks promote physical and mental health, showcasing the wellbeing benefits of business parks.
  • Identified health-promoting upgrades to further enhance the parks for occupiers, including through green spaces and policy improvements.
  • Opened up additional opportunities for occupier engagement and supporting their ESG goals.
  • Demonstrated good ESG management to investors, achieving two global firsts on Fitwel. 
  • Increased marketability and responded to changing occupier demand post-Covid.

Jaime-Louise Morley of MAPP: “Health and wellbeing within the workplace is becoming increasingly important, more so now than ever before. Fitwel is a great tool to use as a starting point to complete a gap analysis and introduce initiatives to improve the site overall. This project really highlighted all the great aspects the parks already had in place and how they stand out from the typical business park model. It really shows that Frasers Property is committed to having a positive impact on their sites as well as the surrounding community.”

Joanna Frank, President and CEO of Fitwel and the Center for Active Design: “We commended Frasers Property on their Fitwel certification and for being leaders in the healthy building movement. The implementation of Fitwel’s strategies and best practices demonstrates Frasers Property’s commitment to prioritise their tenants’ health and wellbeing. As lockdown restrictions are lifted, Frasers Property is proactively ensuring the safety of the people in their buildings by being the largest certified area in the world.”

Challenges & Achievements

EVIDENCE

How do you collate all the evidence required?
 

Frasers Property and MAPP completed the process internally, with no consultancy support. Frasers Property set up a shared drive with folders for each Fitwel category. Local property teams then collected and uploaded evidence. Fitwel completed an initial assessment and provided feedback, which highlighted substantial gaps in the draft submission. In June 2021, the property teams gathered additional evidence, including photographs of all buildings and outdoor spaces on the business parks, which they collated into PDFs, clearly labelling everything in accordance with the Fitwel criteria. They also provided maps showing distances between qualifying amenities, as Fitwel puts emphasis on access, with amenities typically needing to be within 800m, half a mile or a 10-minute walk of all occupiers’ buildings. There are 12 Fitwel categories, with 63 underlying evidence-based strategies that projects can score points against. The shared folder approach worked well, and the three parks were successfully accredited in September 2021.

 

GLOBAL

 

How do you apply international certifications in different countries?
 

Fitwel was originally developed in the US and some tailoring may be needed to adapt the criteria for the UK. Frasers Property has raised a few items with Fitwel that could be reviewed for UK business parks. For instance, Fitwel provides points for community engagement linked to brownfield remediation, even though there may be little to no community interest in remediation of very small areas of land. In contrast, Fitwel does not award any points for other effective forms of community engagement, such as volunteering and fundraising. Every Frasers Property business park actively supports a local charity partner, through fundraising and occupier events. This is not currently recognised through the certification. Other areas that could be reviewed for the UK include water quality testing, electric vehicle charging (which contributes to air quality) and disabled parking (which supports inclusivity). Frasers Property has invited Fitwel to visit its UK business parks to gain insights.

 

“The Fitwel accreditation is the benchmark for developers tuned into the realities of what modern occupiers want and need. We have invested heavily in our business parks to ensure health and wellbeing are integral to the design, development and operation of our buildings. We’re proud the hard work is being recognised by organisations like Fitwel and look forward to welcoming more people to our business parks in the future.”

Ilaria del Beato, CEO of Frasers Property UK