A new government test will show whether your office is healthy or not

Fitwel was designed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration.

Standing desks have risen in popularity at many offices.
Standing desks have risen in popularity at many offices. –The Boston Globe

A growing body of research shows that employees’ physical work environment can have a big impact on their health.

Workers with access to light-filled areas, healthy snacks, exercise facilities, and bike parking often make healthier choices than their peers, yet many office spaces don’t feature any of these amenities.

That’s why The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration designed a new rating and certification program called “Fitwel” that scores how healthy a workplace is.

Fitwell uses a simple, web-based scorecard that ranks buildings on over 60 benchmark criteria such as indoor air quality, healthy food access, fitness facilities, and lobby and stairwell design.

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These criteria, according to the CDC and the GSA, are linked by scientific evidence to at least one of seven categories that affect health.

The scorecard is organized by sections of the workspace — from the lobby to the cafeteria. An algorithm combines the factors and weighs each by the strength of the evidence connecting them positive health outcomes.

Then, a numeric number is displayed indicating the health of the work environment.

A pilot version of the scorecard was tested in 89 federal buildings in 2015, and since then, the CDC and GSA partnered with The Center for Active Design, a nonprofit that promotes architecture and urban planning solutions to improve public health, to make it available to any workplace.

While Fitwel is currently being released to a restricted audience, there will be a full launch in 2017.

According to Fast Company, the goal is that Fitwel can be used by any building manager to improve their existing office space incrementally, no matter their budget or situation.

Fast Company writes:

There is no expensive third-party certification, like the existing Well Building Standard or the well-known LEED Green Building certification, and it tries to avoid creating extra paperwork or costs. Building managers submit their questionnaire answers, with photographic evidence where applicable, to receive a Fitwel rating.

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