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2023 WELL, Fitwel, and LEED Certifications Updates

Authors: Madison Dorman, Mike Kloha and Samantha Varela

Please note, this article was edited on May 11, 2023, to reflect the recent extension for the Fitwel registration discount offer.


If you are considering pursuing green building certifications such as WELL, Fitwel, and LEED, it's important to stay informed about their key updates in 2023. This will enable you to fully understand the latest requirements and take advantage of any new opportunities for certification. Please review the certification system updates below.



​WELL Building Standard® is a performance-based rating system that is focused on the health and wellness of the building occupants. The building must undergo an on-site assessment and performance testing by a third party.


  • WELL Summit and Greenbuild will be hosted in Washington D.C. in September 2023.

    • WELL Summit - September 25 – 26

    • Greenbuild - September 26 – 29

  • IWBI will host the 2024 WELL Summit in Long Beach, CA

  • WELL at Scale:

    • WELL at Scale is a program that allows companies to pursue WELL Certification for multiple buildings at once. This program streamlines the certification process and provides companies a framework for achieving WELL Certification across their portfolios.

    • The WELL at Scale program is designed to be flexible and adaptable to each company's unique needs. Our team at Verdani Partners will work with you to develop a customized plan for achieving WELL Certification across your portfolio. We'll provide guidance and support throughout the certification process, from pre-certification planning to post-occupancy evaluations.

  • WELL Ratings:

    • WELL Health-Safety:

      • The WELL Health Safety Rating evaluates buildings and organizations across a range of health and safety metrics, including air and water quality, cleaning protocols, emergency preparedness, and stakeholder engagement. By measuring these metrics, building owners and operators can identify areas for improvement and make targeted investments to support the health and safety of their occupants.

      • For ESG clients, the WELL Health-Safety Rating is a powerful tool for meeting sustainability goals while also prioritizing the health and safety of occupants. By investing in health and safety measures, ESG clients can improve the overall sustainability of their buildings and demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of occupants.

    • WELL Performance Rating:

      • The WELL Performance Rating includes a comprehensive set of performance metrics across seven categories: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. By measuring these metrics, building owners and operators can identify areas for improvement and make targeted investments to improve the health and wellness of occupants.

      • The WELL Performance Rating is a powerful tool for ESG clients who are looking to prioritize the health and wellness of their occupants while also meeting sustainability goals. By investing in the health and wellness of occupants, ESG clients can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and enhance the overall sustainability of their buildings.

    • NEW! WELL Equity Rating:

      • The WELL Equity Rating is a framework for assessing a company's ESG performance. It considers a range of factors, including environmental impact, social responsibility, and ethical governance practices. The rating system is designed to help companies identify areas for improvement and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

      • The criteria for the WELL Equity Rating include a range of ESG factors, including carbon emissions, resource management, diversity and inclusion, and ethical business practices. Companies are evaluated on their performance in each of these areas, and given a rating based on their overall ESG performance.

      • If you're looking to improve your company's ESG performance, there are several steps you can take. These include reducing carbon emissions, improving resource management, promoting diversity and inclusion, and adopting ethical business practices. Our team at Verdani Partners can help you identify areas for improvement and develop a sustainability strategy that aligns with your company's goals.


 

Fitwel is a premier certification system for optimizing office, multifamily, residential, and retail buildings to improve health and productivity outcomes through targeted building improvements and operational strategies.


  • Portfolio-Wide Solution Released: This solution provides a logistical Certification process efficiency where the client will Bulk Benchmark the portfolio to define which strategies could be pre-approved at the portfolio level to streamline the certification process. Bulk Benchmarking, in general, is a valuable resource for performing gap analysis, setting priorities, and identifying areas of strength and opportunity within any portfolio. Portfolio benchmarking is available at a cost of $1,000. Once the available portfolio-wide strategies are identified, Fitwel registers the projects on the portal, and then the client compiles the documentation necessary for the Fitwel certifications team to approve.

  • Aggregate Scorecard in Pilot: The Aggregate Scorecard is applicable for low-rise properties with multiple buildings with a shared indoor space that falls under the building owner’s or manager’s control. The Fitwel team requires pre-approval to pilot this scorecard as it is a manual process and is not available on the Fitwel portal, currently.

  • New Version: Fitwel v3 is being launched early Fall [updated May 2023] , and will have updates to the reference guides including new strategies, new scorecards, example documentation, and changes to the strategy point values. Projects that register before May 2023, will receive a 5% discount (on top of Fitwel Champion and Provider discounts) on Fitwel project fees. You can learn more, here: Fitwel v3 Introduction

  • Updated Help Center: Fitwel has done a refresh of their Help Center that offers the following new resources:

    • Strategy-focused articles provide insights and implementation guidance for some of the most common questions that our team receives 

    • Sample documentation to use to comply with Fitwel strategies

    • A "Getting Started" section, which digitizes our Submission Workbook into searchable articles to help you kick off in confidence.



 


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Existing Building Operations & Maintenance (EBOM) is a rating system for existing buildings to implement green operations and maintenance processes to improve operational performance, reduce environmental harms of existing buildings, and restore the balance of natural systems.


  • LEED will launch a new pricing schedule on May 1st, 2023. You can find more details here: 2023 LEED Pricing Article

    • On average, it will be about a 12% increase from the current fees that have been in place since 2016

    • Projects may lock in current LEED registration and certification fees by pre-paying fees by April 30th

  • LEED v4 Energy Improvements: USGBC has proposed updates (soon to be released) in the energy section of the LEED v4 program to more directly account for greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. LEED v4 was initially developed on the basis of reducing energy demand simply through usage and energy efficiency. These updates will essentially raise thresholds and more closely align LEED v4 with v4.1, which introduced greenhouse gas emissions as a metric for building energy performance.

  • LEED v4.1: It has been confirmed that LEED v4.1 will remain in beta and never be officially balloted. This is because USGBC is focused on a more comprehensive rating system update via LEED v5.

  • LEED v5: Starting in January 2023, USGBC committees and working groups were tasked with developing the LEED v5 rating system updates, based on industry feedback from 2022. The goal is to provide a first draft of this new rating system by Fall 2023, preferably at Greenbuild. At a high level, the principles that LEED v5 plans to address are summarized in The Future Of LEED 2022 and include the following:

    1. Scale for greatest impact.

    2. Decarbonize the building industry swiftly to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis.

    3. Inspire and recognize adaptive and resilient built environments.

    4. Invest in human health and well-being.

    5. Create environments in which diversity, equity, and inclusivity thrive.

    6. Support flourishing ecosystems through regenerative development practices.

  • LEED Addenda Updates: The next round of LEED addenda updates is scheduled for April 21, 2023. These updates will impact LEED credit requirements and also may affect LEED v4.1 credit substitutions. More information can be found here: LEED v4.1 Credit Substitutions Article


2023 CERTIFICATION DEADLINES:

  • Fitwel: To guarantee a 2023 award, Fitwel applications are due by the following:

    • August 25th for general users,

    • September 8th for Ambassadors,

    • September 22nd for Champions + Providers,

    • October 6th for Recertifications.

  • WELL: It is recommended to submit the project for preliminary documentation review by July 24th to allow enough time for final document review, performance reviews, and appeals to earn a certification for 2023. Each review phase is 25 business days. You can find a WELL v2 project timeline calculator here: Timeline Estimator

  • WELL Recertification: can begin the recertification process up to 12 months before the certification expiration date.

  • WELL at Scale: review period every 12 months (documentation submission every 6 months) from initial submission.

  • IREM CSP: to guarantee a 2023 award, IREM CSP certifications are due by November 15, 2023.

  • LEED: to guarantee a 2023 award, LEED applications are due by the following:

    • To guarantee a LEED certification award before the end of 2023, projects must submit applications and clear payment by 9:00 AM (ET) on September 6th

    • To guarantee a LEED certification award before Greenbuild 2023, projects must submit applications and clear payment by 9:00 AM (ET) on June 6th




CERTIFICATIONS SERVICE OFFERINGS:

Below are the services that the Verdani Partners Certification team currently offers:

  • Fitwel v2.1 (and soon v3) Built Certification and Recertification

  • Fitwel Design Certification

  • LEED v4.1 EBOM Initial Certification and Recertification

  • LEED NC

    • Including LEED CI

  • WELL v2 Core

  • WELL Health-Safety Rating

  • WELL Equity

  • WELL at Scale

  • IREM CSP Certification and Recertification



Read our recent Verdani Vitals Certifications Issue, April 2023



Please contact us at certifications@verdani.com if you are interested in a proposal for one or more of these services.


 

About Verdani Certifications

Verdani specializes in providing expertise and services for a variety of sustainability certifications, including LEED, Fitwel, WELL, IREM, BREEAM, and BOMA, among others. With our help, you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and achieve your sustainability goals while also reaping the many benefits that come with being recognized as a leader in this area.


Our services are designed to help clients reduce operating costs, promote healthy and safe environments for building occupants, and conserve resources, all of which can result in higher ROI, increased building value, improved reputation, and greater competitiveness in the marketplace.



About Verdani Partners

Verdani manages ESG programs for 21 real estate firms with over 8,900 properties managed across 1.3 billion square feet of diversified portfolios, representing over $660 billion AUM. verdani.com


Serving as an owners’ representative for ESG management, Verdani provides clients with a team of sustainability experts that work within their organizations to develop and manage customized programs on an ongoing basis. Verdani’s clients leverage the team of professionals, state-of-the-art tools and resources, and industry connections to advance their portfolios, minimize risk and create long-term value.


Verdani is a GRESB Global Partner and member of the GRESB Benchmarking Committee that manages GRESB reporting. Verdani also produces annual sustainability reports for some of the nation’s top real estate firms. Verdani’s corporate ESG, green building certifications, technical services, communications department and educational programs bring an impressive breadth of expertise to each portfolio and project.



 

About the Authors


Madison Dorman

As the co-lead of Verdani’s Certifications Department, Madison works with building owners and property managers to achieve LEEDv4.1 O+M, WELL, Fitwel, IREM CSP, Green Globes, ENERGY STAR Labels, and ASHRAE Audits. Notably, Madison’s expertise focuses on helping clients achieve health and wellness goals for commercial real estate and multi-family residential properties: this includes providing COVID-19 and other infectious disease informational materials (e.g., signage, informational webinars, flyers, policies), Fitwel v2.1 and Fitwel Viral Response Module certifications, and WELL v2 and WELL Health-Safety Rating certifications. Madison graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Sustainability for the Built Environment. She is a certified Fitwel Ambassador and holds professional credentials in LEED AP O+M, WELL AP, and EcoDistricts AP.




Michael Kloha

Michael manages existing building certification projects and conducts IEQ performance testing for both the Certifications department and Verdani Technical Services. He works on various certifications, including LEED EBOM, Fitwel, IREM CSP, and WELL. With over seven years of experience in urban sustainability, Michael specializes in green building certifications, sustainability policy research, local government, and stakeholder engagement. He previously consulted with developers on sustainable design and construction strategies for LEED projects. Michael has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy and a minor in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California, San Diego. He is accredited as a LEED AP O+M, WELL AP, TRUE Advisor, EcoDistricts AP, and Fitwel Ambassador, and is currently studying for his LEED AP BD+C credential.


Samantha Varela

As the WELL Certifications Manager at Verdani Partners, Samantha Varela has more than 6 years of notable leadership experience in the green building industry. Her specialization includes project management, business development, and sustainable design. Samantha is a Board Member with the U.S. Green Building Council at a local level and has contributed to advocacy and resilience efforts in South Florida. In addition, she has served on the AIA Palm Beach Center on the Environment Board and was featured on the Resilient Forward podcast for her work on the historic Four Seasons Surf Club project. Samantha holds professional credentials in LEED, FGBC, Fitwel, The WELL Building Standard, and other building rating systems. She is responsible for managing all WELL Core, WELL Health-Safety Rating, and other health and wellness programs at Verdani.


 

Disclaimer

All information contained within this article, report or other communication is protected by law, including, but not limited to, copyright law and trademark law, and none of such information may be copied or otherwise reproduced, repackaged, further transmitted, transferred, disseminated, redistributed or resold, or stored for subsequent use for any such purpose, in whole or in part, in any form or manner or by any means whatsoever, by any person without Verdani, LLC’s prior written consent.​ The information contained herein was developed in accordance with best industry practices. This article was prepared without reference to any specific property or scenario and is not intended to substitute for the professional advice of an attorney, engineer, or other climate change professional. This article should not be relied on exclusively when conducting risk assessments or developing response plans. Neither Verdani, LLC nor its employees or agents can be held responsible for the use or misuse of the information contained herein, and Verdani LLC hereby disclaims any liability for damages arising from the use of this information, including without limitation, direct, indirect, or consequential damages including personal injury, property loss, loss of revenue, loss of opportunity, or other loss. © Verdani, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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