Menkes Signs On as a Fitwel Champion
February 23, 2017
TORONTO (February 23, 2017) – Menkes Developments Ltd. (Menkes), a fully integrated real estate company based in Toronto, has announced today that it is the first Canadian real estate company to become a Fitwel Champion. Fitwel is a new evidence-based building certification system that optimizes occupant health and productivity through targeted improvements to workplace design and operational policies. As an earlier adopter of Fitwel, Menkes will take an industry-leading role in implementing initiatives at its managed office buildings to help promote opportunities for occupants to improve their health and wellbeing.
“We are addressing an emerging trend in the real estate market that employees want work spaces that support their health and wellness goals” said Peter Menkes, President of the Commercial / Industrial Division of Menkes. “Being an active partner in promoting health and wellness in our buildings is an investment in our occupants, tenants and buildings, just as our leadership in sustainability has been.”
Fitwel’s development was led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration. Fitwel has a vision for a healthier future where every building is enhanced to support the wellbeing of its occupants and surrounding communities. The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is the operator of Fitwel, leading its widespread adoption and future development.
“We are delighted to partner with Menkes to expand the use of Fitwel to the Canadian office market,” says Joanna Frank, executive director of CfAD. “Menkes’ leadership role will be critical in optimizing workplaces to promote occupant health and ensure Fitwel’s broad based applicability across Canada.”
Fitwel addresses health within seven health impact categories, including community health, morbidity and absenteeism, social equality, physical activity, occupant safety, and a sense of well-being. Fitwel certification assesses building and workplace features—including the design of stairwells and outdoor spaces, proximity to public transit and fitness facilities, indoor air quality, and healthy food standards—against a baseline of criteria that create a health-promoting environment.
Occupant wellbeing is fundamental to Menkes’ approach to property management. “Our goal in designing and managing work environments is to provide opportunities for occupants to live a healthier lifestyle. Fitwel will be used as a measuring stick in creating healthier work environments,” says Jon Douglas, Director of Sustainability for Menkes. “Employees spend an increasing amount of time indoors and the buildings they work in have an impact on their health. We actively promote health and wellness at our properties by creating opportunities for occupants to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
As part of the Fitwel certification process, Menkes has committed to implementing a Real Estate Wellness Program with efforts such as encouraging physical activity, supporting mental health, and promoting nutrition and good hygiene. Specific strategies include encouraging occupants to use the building stairs and making properties more bicycle-friendly. Communications outreach will focus on mental health awareness and promoting healthy food options on-site and within walking distance of the workplace. Another component of the communications strategy will highlight preventative initiatives that support good health, for example hosting onsite flu clinics.
According to Gallup, an occupant of a building is spending on average of 50 hours a week in the office. At the same time, there is a health crisis in North America; in Canada, one in four adults are considered obese, which is no surprise as a leading cause of obesity is a lack of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Workers with access to daylight are getting on average 46 more minutes of sleep each night. More sleep can have a huge impact on productivity. People represent over 90% of an organization’s expenses—more than rent or energy. A small impact to increasing productivity and reducing employee absenteeism can have great returns for a tenant organization.
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Menkes Developments Ltd. is an award-winning, fully integrated real estate company involved in the construction, ownership and management of office, industrial, retail and residential properties. Founded in 1954, the company is one of the largest private developers in Canada, with a primary focus in the Greater Toronto Area. Menkes is known for its innovative, multi-disciplinary approach and particularly for its expertise in large-scale, mixed-use development. Past projects include the Empress Walk entertainment, shopping and residential complex in North York City Centre, the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences in Bloor-Yorkville and two landmark projects in Toronto’s South Core district, 25 York (TELUS House) office tower and the two million square foot Harbour Plaza Residences / One York commercial retail complex. The company’s latest project is a proposed waterfront community on an 11.5 acre site in downtown Toronto, which will be anchored by a new two-acre park. For more information about Menkes, please visit menkes.com and follow us on twitter @MenkesLife.
Fitwel is a cost-effective, high impact building certification system that optimizes building occupant health and productivity through targeted improvements to workplace design and operational policies. Fitwel has a vision for a healthier future where every building is enhanced to support the wellbeing of its occupants and surrounding communities. Fitwel’s development was led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration. The Center for Active Design is the operator of Fitwel, leading its widespread adoption and future development. Learn more at fitwel.org and follow Fitwel on twitter @fitwel.
About the Center for Active Design
The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is the leading international non-profit organization that uses design to foster healthy and engaged communities. CfAD takes a multi-disciplinary approach to translating research into practical design solutions. CfAD guides the creation and implementation of initiatives that respond to unique community priorities and result in measurable outcomes. For more information about CfAD, please visit www.centerforactivedesign.org and follow CfAD on Twitter @active_design.