Roundtable Responds to EPA’s Inquiry Regarding  Indoor Air Quality

EPA logoThe Real Estate Roundtable on Dec. 5 responded to a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Request for Information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) management, which posed questions about a possible new building “label” program. (Roundtable comments and EPA’s Federal Register Notice

Roundtable Comments 

  • A public-private partnership federal recognition program that commends leadership in IAQ design and management could be a key component of a return to healthy workplaces, The Roundtable stated in its comments.
  • The Roundtable urges policymakers and business leaders to push for the safe return of employees to their physical workspaces to benefit productivity and help reinvigorate small businesses in downtown neighborhoods—an essential contributor to urban communities and their tax bases. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 2)
  • Should EPA move forward to propose any criteria for a potential IAQ label, The Roundtable commented that the agency must: 
    • Identify clear statutory authority and adequate federal resources to ensure its long-term viability;
    • Conduct an initial pilot program for testing in actual buildings to reflect real-world experiences of commercial real estate practitioners (including private sector and federal building owners); and
    • Demonstrate support for best practices and procedures that sequentially (I) control emissions and off-gassing from indoor sources, (II) improve ventilation rates, and (III) enhance air filtration and cleaning. (EPA’s IAQ best practices webpage

The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) has a long, successful track record of collaboration with EPA and the Department of Energy in the development of numerous voluntary recognition programs, which are listed in the comments.

Healthy Return to Office 

Healthy Workplace Coalition logo

Return-to-the-office is a significant industry priority that will be discussed during The Roundtable’s all-member State of the Industry Meeting on January 24-25 in Washington, DC. 

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White House “Clean Air in Building Challenge” Invites Owner Participation; SEC Delays Climate Rule

White House Indoor Air Quality Summit

Real estate and other industry leaders recently participated in the first White House Summit on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) as part of the Biden administration’s continued focus on the benefits of healthy buildings in the pandemic era. (Summit video, Oct. 12 and International WELL Building Institute, Oct. 13) 

Building Owner “Pledge” 

    • Create a clean indoor air “action plan” (e.g., regular HVAC inspections and maintenance)
    • Optimize fresh air ventilation (e.g., use economizers, open operable windows)
    • Enhance air filtration (e.g., install MERV-13 filters)
    • Communicate IAQ practices with building occupants  
  • Speakers at the summit included Silverstein Properties’ Chief Innovation Officer Guy Vardi and Dr. Joseph Allen, Healthy Buildings Program Director at Harvard University. Roundtable President Jeffrey DeBoer interviewed Dr. Allen at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. (Roundtable Weekly, May 8, 2020 | Watch the video interview) 

Agency Developments 

EPA logo

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a Request for Information to solicit feedback from industry, researchers, and the public on key characteristics and measures of improved ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning in buildings. Comments are due by Dec. 5, 2022. 

In other news, the Securities and Exchange Commission will reportedly delay by “months” its release of a long-anticipated final rule on corporate climate disclosures. (Bloomberg Law, Oct. 19) The agency continues to assess the legality of its proposal under recent U.S. Supreme Court case law and sift through more than 14,000 comments received from the public—including input provided by The Roundtable and other CRE groups in June. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 16 and June 10

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