With states and cities beginning to re-open economic sectors, what should building owners and managers consider to safely manage the reentry of tenants, workers and visitors? This was the topic of an interview conducted this week by Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO, Jeffrey DeBoer, with Dr. Joseph Allen, Assistant Professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of its Healthy Buildings Program. (Video, May 6)
- Dr. Allen discussed how a science-based strategy to mitigate infectious risks can be adopted as part of a healthy building effort. He is the co-author of the book, “Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity,” published last month.
- The interview is one of a series of videos by The Roundtable on the impact of Covid-19 (The Roundtable’s YouTube channel videos)
- Dr. Allen said:
- He was inspired at a Roundtable Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) meeting to assemble a report that eventually became “The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building.” The publication “takes 40 years of scientific evidence, distills it down to those key factors or features that we know relate to better employee health, improved productivity and help reduce infectious disease transmission.”
- Building stakeholders could implement a health safety plan using “a five-step hierarchy of controls” detailed in his April 29 Harvard Business Review article, “What Makes an Office Building ‘Healthy’”
- Healthy building metrics can contribute to building valuation. “Start measuring … health performance indicators. Capture all those gains.” He gives a specific marketplace example featured in an April 28 Harvard Business Review podcast case study, “A Tower for the People: 425 Park Avenue.”
- There is increased market interest in healthy buildings, especially in light of the fallout from the global pandemic. “This healthy building movement, just like working from home and teleworking, have been slowly rising – and with COVID, it has forced a massive quickening of these movements.” (Watch interview, May 6)
- National Real Estate Investor: “Some States Are Reopening. Here’s What Office Landlords Can Do to Make Tenants Feel Safer.” NREI.com, May 7 – From tracing apps to strictly enforced rules on the use of masks, office landlords prepare for eventual reopening.
- Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International: “Getting Back to Work: Preparing Buildings for Re-Entry Amid COVID-19” provides guidance for preparing commercial properties for the safe return of office tenants, building personnel, visitors, vendors and contractors. The guidance document provides a framework for developing individual property or portfolio plans.
- International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Covid-18 Resources Center includes “Re-Opening Best Practices” and state-by-state business updates and mandates.
- CDC’s “Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.” CDC’s guidance relies heavily on lists developed by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, regarding disinfectant products that can be used against COVID-19 (e.g., sprays, concentrates, and wipes).
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) State/Local COVID Requirements:
“State and Local Executive Actions” chart provided by DHS is a compendium (to date) of state and local laws and ordinances related to COVID-19 (e.g., stay-at-home orders, social distancing, facial covering/PPE requirements).
The Roundtable’s Building Re-Entry Working Group continues to meet weekly to address issues associated with the restarting of the economy.
Operations and performance standards for healthy buildings will be a topic discussed during The Roundtable’s virtual Annual Meeting on June 11-12, which will include remote events for both business and policy advisory committee meetings.
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