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Practicing what we preach: Championing sustainability and wellness across Stantec

January 10, 2018

By Blake Jackson

Places, people, and clients: Three reasons Stantec is now a Fitwel Champion

In November 2017, Stantec became the 13th company to form a strategic alliance with the Center for Active Design (CfAD, the leading non-profit using design to foster healthy, engaged communities) by becoming a Fitwel Champion. Developed by CfAD in 2015, Fitwel is a health-focused third-party rating system piloted at 89 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and General Services Administration (GSA) facilities. Similar to the WELL Building Standard, Fitwel offers a market-friendly, cost-effective opportunity for projects seeking certification for incorporation of proven evidence-based design approaches across the built environment. The Champion designation was designed for early adopter organizations looking to broaden their commitment to better health impacts across their portfolios. Other Champions include global giants in design, construction, and real estate.

Stantec saw an opportunity to leverage our size and presence in North America and beyond to form this alliance as part of a shift toward focusing on sustainability and wellness in the built environment with three primary areas of impact: 1) our real estate, 2) our people, and 3) our clients.

The sixth-floor lobby in Stantec’s Boston office serves as a multi-use space, which accommodates everything from all-staff meetings to yoga classes and community events.

Real Estate: The Champion commitment initiated a pilot project where three Stantec offices (Boston, Denver, and Toronto) began retroactive Fitwel certification—to be completed by Q1, 2018. While modest in scope, this initial cohort will assess the applicability of key strategies for health and wellness that have the potential to affect all Stantec real estate moving forward. Our current real estate policy is to design Stantec offices (400+ on six continents) to meet LEED Silver equivalency, where it makes sense. Our hope is to add a requirement that Stantec offices meet Fitwel 1-star equivalency too, in this same spirit.

People: Our people are our greatest asset, and we feel through our Champion designation and Fitwel certifications that we can encourage healthy behaviors by demonstrating a commitment toward active engagement in promoting staff health and wellness. We want to attract and retain the best talent and keep them inspired, engaged, and productive inside and beyond Stantec. Becoming a Fitwel Champion also aligns with the existing health and wellness programs we offer.

The Stantec Toronto office is characterized by open stairways, natural materials, access to ample daylight, and an underfloor air distribution system for clean air delivery and promotion of individual occupant comfort.

Clients: As a Fitwel Champion, Stantec will learn by doing. We will leverage lessons learned from certification of our own offices and generate proprietary knowledge on design for wellness that we can use to help our clients respond to their staff health objectives. As we compile metrics from certifying our offices, we can combine these gleanings with the results of internal research (Stantec’s Green Light program) on health and wellness, particularly exploring key performance indicators (KPI) to answer questions about how our investment in health-focused systems make us healthier.

Lastly, as we roll out our Champion agreement gradually across Stantec, we will accredit staff as Fitwel Ambassadors and leverage this expertise across all sectors to help our clients reach their health and wellness goals.

In Denver, visitors to the second-floor lobby of Stantec are greeted by a free office bike share. The space opens to a roof terrace to encourage year-round outdoor activity.

Boston, first steps

We submitted 311 Summer Street in Boston, Massachusetts, as our first office for certification. Located within a historic eight-level warehouse in the Seaport District, the space is home to 120+ employees and boasts a LEED Platinum (ID+C) certification. The space was a natural fit for the pilot program. Many of the LEED attributes of the building contributed to the Fitwel score. 311 Summer Street is in a walkable urban environment; adjacent to the Boston Harborwalk; serviced by multi-modal public transportation; and has onsite showers, changing rooms, and bike storage facilities. Additionally, most regularly occupied spaces (open studios) are daylit with access to views through operable windows.

The office also earned several points for features unique to the Fitwel system, including providing accessible drinking water on each level, a lactation room for nursing mothers, and protocols for emergency preparedness. The building’s offset core opens the floors to daylight on three sides, which also allows users to encounter stairs, serving all floors, before they encounter an elevator. The second stair, adjacent to the exterior, receives natural daylight and sports a front-of-house look to encourage its use. Utilizing these stairs is a great way for staff to incorporate activity into their daily routine. 311 Summer Street earned a 2-star Fitwel certification for Commercial Interiors, the second-highest designation within the system.

Our Champion agreement is only the beginning. Additionally, Stantec has been appointed to the Fitwel Advisory Council, which will give us a platform to provide input into the evolution of the standard as it matures.

  • Blake Jackson

    Blake is a passionate architect who specializes in designing and implementing stewardship (sustainability, wellness, and resiliency) for a variety of projects and industries.

    Contact Blake
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