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Wellness at the heart of a Community

 

Fadi Nwilati, CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services speaks about achieving the 'Well' rating

 
By Marisha Singh, January 1, 2023 UAE Property Management
 

Wellness at the heart of a Community
 

Kaizen Asset Management Services announced in November 2022 that it has obtained the WELL Health-Safety Rating for 91 properties in its portfolio from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation by Delos. 

The WELL Health and Safety rating is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating. All 91 properties in KAIZEN Asset Management’s portfolio were assessed on the basis of: cleaning and sanitization procedures, emergency preparedness programs, health service resources, air and water quality management, stakeholder engagement and communication, as well as innovation.

Kaizen says it monitors air quality inside the buildings it manages using IoT sensors to ensure the highest standards of clean air and energy management of chillers. It implements environmental preservation activities through partner service providers, as well as applying standards of using eco-friendly materials for cleaning and sanitation, and pest control.

CMtoday spoke to Fadi Nwilati, the CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services to understand the vision driving this achievement.

Q: What is the vision driving the adoption of Well-Health safety reading across your properties? 

Our purpose is to create memorable experiences and communities, and we can't create memories for customers before first taking care of their health and safety. Of course, like any professional, and reputable company in the region, we already had the highest standards when it came to health and safety ratings. But it is very difficult to gauge how you are doing without having an independent third-party certification or assessment. In order to have this verification we reached out to Delos to understand where we are. And I am happy to say that across all of our portfolios, we have passed their audits and have received the Well certification. Another thing to consider is when you improve the rating of a building for any factor, but especially for health and wellness, you are also improving the marketability and the rentability of that property. And when this happens, that will simultaneously improve the rents and improve the property’s value. It hence becomes a win-win for everyone. It is a win for Kaizen because we get to understand where we stand today and we now have access to a lot of resources from IWBI. This is backed by science to help us develop more and contribute more to the wellness of our customers. It is a win for the residents because it also gives them the comfort that their family is healthy. And it is a win for our landlords as well because it improves the value of their assets.

Q. What were the challenges on the way to achieving this certification across your portfolio?

I think the challenges first and foremost was getting all the stakeholders aligned to the fact that wellness should come first. I think the entire industry, be it developers, landlords, property managers, maintenance companies and service providers, have all been focused a lot on properties and focused on resident services. Over the years, health and wellness took a bad backseat and it was more of an individual responsibility. If I wanted to be more healthy, I should exercise more. I should do the recommended things for any individual to improve their health. Now we understand as individuals and as an industry that wellness needs to be managed and built in to the environment. That was the challenge of getting all the stakeholders that we work with, all the service providers that we work with, to understand that we actually have a huge responsibility towards our residents in terms of health and safety and that we can actually contribute positively to improve the wellness of our customers and our residents. 

Q: While this certification was an initiative driven by Kaizen’s leadership, how will the local market understand the value of the certification that you are providing to them? 

Dubai is a city that brings companies and people from across the globe and this means there is a continuous exchange of ideas, and values and learning. And as you reside in the city, you become a learner yourself and you start questioning what you know and start learning new things. There was no demand for this certification from our residents. Because if you don't know that something exists, you are not going to ask for it. People, especially outside the industry, would not know now that we were one of the first companies to achieve it and raise the awareness of health and safety and wellness. I believe residents will start demanding it in other buildings once they understand the value it imparts in terms of liveability. People will start paying more attention as to whether a building is rated “WELL” or not. Also, RERA and Dubai Land Department are also issuing their own rating system. The more and more rating bodies we have on different aspects to properties, the more serious those governing bodies and certifications are, the better it is for the general public. Because then you know about the quality, you know the standards available for health and wellness. That makes it much more easier for a tenant to search, and easier for the landlord to explain the value that their property delivers. And it is better for the general public overall, because this way the entire industry will start thinking that we all need to raise the standards. 

Q: What is Kaizen working on after this certification?

We have put together our environment, social and governance goals over the last two years. We have our goals mapped out until 2040.  For the next year in particular, our focus is going to be increasing recycling within buildings and to make it very easy for residents to recycle in their houses. We are working with certain service providers to come up with the right value proposition that works, and also the right value proposition to make it easy for customers, to recycle. The second part we're focused on in 2023 is reducing plastic bottle consumption in our buildings – in particular for drinking water and buildings, because I think we are all in the habit of just buying plastic bottles. Another area worth mentioning also is our focus on the social governance or social aspect of our service personnel – the cleaners, the security, the maintenance teams, to make sure that they are living in good conditions, that they are being paid on time, and that their social life surrounding them is in good standard. We need to take care of them as well. So those are our goals. 

Kaizen’s announcement comes in the wake of the Dubai Land Department’s push to elevate the health, safety, and quality of life for the city’s residents based on the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan. The DLD’s strategy is to consolidate Dubai’s position as a preferred global real estate destination.

Dubai Land Department and Delos, with participation from the public and private sectors launched ‘The Future of Health, Wellness & Innovation Forum’ in December to raise awareness and explore innovative solutions and future visions for the healthy and sustainable building movement. 

At the forum, His Excellency Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of Dubai Land Department, commented: “Health and safety issues have always been fundamental pillars of the UAE’s strategy, and Dubai in particular, towards ensuring growth by promoting innovation and sustainability, in line with the developmental approach pursued by the wise leadership under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

Bin Mejren added: “The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan draws an integrated future map for sustainable urban development, the main focus of which being people and the improvement of their quality of life. From this standpoint, health, safety, and innovation standards have become integral to achieving Dubai’s vision to become the best city in the world to live and work.”

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