Manulife Investment Management achieves Fitwel Viral Response Module certification with distinction for North American real estate portfolio

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Manulife Investment Management has secured Fitwel Viral Response Module (VRM) certification with distinction at the entity level, a further commitment to sustainability efforts across its real estate portfolio and ongoing focus on the health and well-being of its tenants, employees, and partners.

Fitwel is the world’s leading certification system committed to “Building Health for All.” Originally created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US General Services Administration, Fitwel is a rigorous, third-party healthy building certification that sets the industry standard for evidence-based strategies to promote positive health outcomes for building occupants and communities. Fitwel's VRM was developed in coordination with leading public health experts and real estate companies to effectively address the unique challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic

and other infectious respiratory diseases. The VRM allows building owners, companies, and commercial tenants to demonstrate compliance with evidence-based, cost-effective strategies that mitigate viral transmission and build trust to create healthy and resilient environments for all occupants.

“We’re guided by our values and commitment to support the health and well-being of employees, customers, and communities,” says Regan Smith, head of real estate sustainability at Manulife Investment Management. “In tackling the challenges associated with Covid-19, we recognise the important role real estate managers can play in providing safer and healthier spaces within our buildings.”

Receiving entity-level certification signifies Manulife Investment Management’s consistent wellness, design, development, and operation policies across its North American portfolio. These rigorously reviewed policies and procedures for safe and healthy infrastructure will continue to be implemented across the firm’s 58.5 million-square-foot North American real estate portfolio.

Two of Manulife Investment Management’s signature properties—Manulife Place in Edmonton, Alberta and The Michelson in Irvine, California—have already achieved certification with Fitwel Building scorecards. This certification involves the evaluation of more than 55 evidence-based design and operational strategies that enhance projects by addressing a broad range of health behaviours and risks across seven health impact categories. It encompasses a plethora of features, including indoor air quality, fitness amenities, access to green spaces, accessibility, and alternative transportation, among others.

Joanna Frank, president and CEO of the Center for Active Design, which establishes and maintains the Fitwel standard adds: "We’re grateful for the commitment from global partners such as Manulife Investment Management for rising to the challenge to further address building occupant health in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Setting a global standard is more necessary now than ever before, and Manulife’s rapid adoption of the Fitwel VRM highlights its leadership in aligning practical policies with evidence-based best practices to promote health.”

Manulife Investment Management develops and manages commercial real estate for thousands of customers around the globe as part of its comprehensive private markets’ capabilities. As of 30 June, 2021, the real estate portfolio totals over 62 million square feet of office, industrial, and retail space strategically located in markets across Canada, the United States, and Asia. The group leverages its global platform and local expertise to provide market-leading solutions for its tenants and deliver results for its partners.

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