Columbia Earns Prestigious Health and Well-Being Certification for New Residential Building on 125th Street

Fitwel®’s three-star rating, its highest, recognizes the building’s extensive features that cultivate physical, mental, and social health of occupants as well as overall sustainability. 

December 14, 2021

NEW YORK – Columbia University today announced that it has achieved Fitwel® certification for 600 W. 125th Street, its new 34-story building to house graduate students and faculty members on the southwest corner of 125th Street and Broadway. The building earned three stars – Fitwel’s highest standard – in Fitwel Version 2.1 Multifamily rating for its design, construction, and sustainability principles as well as its commitment to resident health and well-being.    

Fitwel, created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. General Services Administration, with the Center for Active Design, certifies buildings for advancing human health and well-being through their design and operational strategies. 

“We’re honored to be recognized by Fitwel for the commitment to sustainability, health, and wellness through the design and operation of 600 West 125th Street,” said David M. Greenberg, Executive Vice President for Columbia University Facilities and Operations. “This Fitwel certification, Columbia’s first, furthers our overall commitment to sustainability and wellness in construction and operations.” 

Following the design, construction and sustainability principles established for the Manhattanville campus across the street, 600 W. 125th Street – designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with CetraRuddy Architecture – features active ground floor retail use, transparent storefront façade that promotes safety and connectivity at the urban layer, and slender building volume that provides for light and air with its generous setbacks.  

Other key sustainability highlights include a high-performance façade, optimized equipment efficiency, climate considerate appliance technology (the faculty clothes dryers are air source heat pumps) and an all-electric retail kitchen to achieve long-term carbon emissions reductions. The project included an enhanced Clean Construction program, vegetated roofs, stormwater detention, and wellness considerations. In addition to the three-star Fitwel rating, 600 W. 125th Street is also tracking certification of LEED v4.0 Gold. 

The building’s mission statement is “to cultivate an environment that contributes to the occupants’ physical, mental, and social health by providing continual and equitable access to clean and safe spaces; building amenities; nature; exposure to daylight; programs that promote education; and activities designed to improve occupant health, wellness, and social interaction.” 

Some criteria that helped 600 W. 125th Street to achieve its three-star rating include having a dedicated exercise room, access to a full-service grocery store, crop share or other fresh produce delivery programs, and views of nature from common spaces. Location also contributed to the certification with points awarded for the building being located in an area with a Walk Score of 90 or above and having access to a transit stop within a half mile or 800 meters of a main building entrance.   

Governance and transparency are also important factors in Columbia receiving the three-star rating, including holding a regular occupant satisfaction survey and a Stakeholder Collaboration Process for residents, to name a few. Other contributing features include occupants having access to thermal control devices, and the building implementing acoustic control measures to minimize both interior and exterior sourced noises. 

Outdoor enrichment is also a focus, with criteria like access to a farmers' market, an outdoor restorative garden, outdoor playgrounds, an outdoor fitness area, an outdoor common space, a bike share station, and bicycle parking.   

About the building 

600 W. 125th Street is approximately 177,000 square feet and includes 142 apartments and 5,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level, which will be occupied by returning lessee, McDonald’s. 

About Fitwel and the Center for Active Design 

In just three years, Fitwel has become the leading global health certification system, seeing a dramatic uptick in use, with 80% growth in certifications annually. Generated by expert analysis of over 5,600 academic research studies, Fitwel is implementing a vision for a healthier future where all buildings and communities are enhanced to strengthen health and well-being. Fitwel was created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. General Services Administration. The Center for Active Design, a global not-for-profit organization, was selected as the licensed operator of Fitwel, charged with expanding Fitwel to the global market.