NAVIGATING THE "NEW NORMAL" AMID COVID-19

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Recreating the Office for an Unforeseeable Future

Originally published in Commercial Property Executive by Gail Kalinoski, August 2020

While planning for the “office of the future,” we must design office spaces in a flexible way that can easily adapt to changes and accommodate different tenant needs.

That’s what developer Matt Cassin, founder and managing partner of JMC Holdings, says in planning a new 21-story office building in downtown Pittsburg, set to deliver in 2023.

With heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems receiving closer scrutiny in existing offices and future workplaces, indoor air quality will be a big concern going forward.

Outdoor space will be more important than ever, and JMC is planning an eighth-floor roof deck, a first-floor plaza for tenant and public use, and a small street-level park. Building technology will feature an active chilled beam system combined with dedicated outdoor air units for cleaner, more highly filtered air.

But how much technology is too much?

While Carbon Lighthouse recommends avoiding the impulse to run the HVAC system 24/7, we also evaluate any new safety measures by focusing first on high-occupancy and high-frequency areas like elevators and restrooms.

Regarding the occupancy question, a Gensler survey found 70 percent of U.S. workers would prefer to be in the office most of the week — and at least one anchor tenant in a top U.S. market requested “twice as much space for social distancing” in a new property.

Our engineers urge operators to take the opportunity now to strategically invest in technologies and solutions to help them efficiently deploy COVID-mitigation measures — and to use these investments as building blocks for portfolio resilience against future disruptions.

Carbon Lighthouse’s tech-enabled Efficiency Production model calculates Efficiency Reserves — or wasted energy hidden across HVAC and lighting systems. Our patented AI platform CLUES® then translates those inefficiencies to optimize operations and grow asset value across an entire portfolio.

Finding the right balance with technology optimizations is key for the office of the future, and the return on that tech investment can be justified by the potential extension of equipment life, energy savings, and creating a more resilient portfolio.

Photo courtesy of JMC Holdings.
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