The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is making big moves into the expansion and growth of their Fitwel certification as the demand for wellness real estate (and likewise Fitwel registrations) continues to spike. According to CfAD, the newly created Active Design Advisors, Inc. (its shortened Adai pronounced ‘a-DAY’) will be responsible for promoting and administering the Fitwel certification as it expands across key markets, as well as maintaining Fitwel’s best-in-class customer service.
“This is exactly the right moment for us to be launching Adai,” CfAD President and CEO Joanna Frank says. “Today Fitwel-certified projects improve the lives of more than a million people across the globe. But how do we get to 10 million, to 100 million? We want to invest in people and technology to meet the demands of the real estate industry for ESG-driven solutions. Not only will Adai help us grow our capacity to keep accelerating the healthy building movement, it will help us maintain the highest standards of customer service and expand our platform to ensure we truly are responding to our clients’ needs.”
CfAD states that it will continue translating the global public health evidence base into practical and implementable design and development solutions and will retain responsibility for objective third-party Fitwel certification. The organization also will continue leveraging its partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain the Fitwel standard, reviewing and updating it regularly with input from academic and industry advisory groups to ensure the standard remains both rigorous and practical to apply across portfolios of real estate assets. And CfAD will continue using its research acumen to develop reports and white papers to educate and empower the marketplace.
Wellness Certifications Continue to Grow Amidst Market Demand for Healthier Buildings
As of 2021, more than 2,100 Fitwel projects had been registered in 50 countries—with Q1 registrations up 238% year-over-year—representing more than 675 million square feet of real estate impacting 1.3 million people. Tenants are driving demand, with commercial interior projects representing 30 percent of total registrations last year.
This rise aligns with the findings of a recent global investor survey that CfAD conducted with BentallGreenOak and the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative, which reported that 92% of investors representing portfolio investments in real estate totaling approximately $1.03 trillion plan to enhance their health and wellness strategies over the next three years.
Reena Agarwal, CfAD’s Chief Operating Officer, said the early years of Fitwel’s growth revolved around educating the marketplace—defining a healthy building and why it matters. Now the focus is on scaling the strategies as quickly as reasonable.
“We have so much verified data now that we didn’t have in the beginning,” she said. “We can prove the positive outcomes, so the next chapter will find us working closely with our client partners to scale Fitwel across entire portfolios of real estate assets. Our goal is not to give out plaques. Our goal is market transformation. And the creation of Adai, the expansion of our team, of our products and services, is absolutely critical to this mission.”
As a subsidiary of CfAD, Adai will benefit from the same core personnel, executive leadership and board of directors. In the near-term, CfAD states Adai will seek to become a benefit corporation and pursue formal B-Corp certification, joining a global business movement committed to building a regenerative and inclusive economy. Adai will be run by co-founders Joanna Frank and Reena Agarwal who will serve as CEO and COO of Adai, respectively. Both will join Adai’s Board of Directors.
About the Fitwel Standard
Unlike other healthy building certifications, the Fitwel standard emerged from a vast evidence base dating back to the world’s first global pandemic in 1918. In 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. General Services Administration selected CfAD to serve as the exclusive licensed operator of Fitwel, which leverages a proprietary approach to translating its growing database of peer-reviewed research studies to create actionable strategies that promote measurable health outcomes for occupants and communities. Fitwel is leading the way in helping owners and operators of real estate to advance the ‘social’ component of ESG strategy by standardizing benchmarks that most strongly impact human health.