The Center for Active Design this week announced the expansion of the Fitwel building certification system to include multi-family residential developments. Following the March 2017 launch of Fitwel for workplaces, the release of a version adapted to the residential sector extends the standard’s reach in encouraging building design and operations for health and well-being. With this expansion, Fitwel also becomes the qualifying mechanism for Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards financial incentive program.

“Incorporating health-promoting elements into home environments has a measurable positive impact on the health and stability of residents,” says Lisa Creighton, Vice President of Strategy and Development at the Center for Active Design (CfAD). “With the launch of Fitwel for multifamily residential, in conjunction with our continued partnership with Fannie Mae, we are ensuring equitable access to spaces that promote health.”

Developed as a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration, and administered by the non-profit CfAD, Fitwel addresses seven health impact categories: community health, morbidity, social equity for vulnerable populations, feelings of well-being, physical activity, occupant safety, and healthy food options. The residential standard comprises 59 design and operational strategies known to improve outcomes in one or more of these categories, with points allocated to each strategy according to a CDC-developed algorithm that weighs two vectors: the strength of the evidence supporting the strategy’s health impact, and the strength of the impact itself. Activity (indoors and out), healthy food choices, and indoor air quality account for the majority of strategies.

Fitwel for multifamily is applicable to new and existing market-rate, affordable, and senior-specific residential developments, and CfAD reports that the Center is already fielding significant interest from developers. AvalonBay Communities, a real estate investment trust that owns some 75,000 apartment units on both coasts, is the first residential-only developer to commit to implementing Fitwel across its portfolio. “Our purpose is to create a better way to live for our residents,” says Mark Delisi, Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility at AvalonBay, “and we know that innovation in residential wellbeing and partnering with Fitwel will certainly improve the health and wellbeing of our residents."