How CRE is Listening to Data, Science and Tenants to Navigate COVID-19
In a recent Commercial Observer webinar, we sat down with two Carbon Lighthouse clients, Deborah Boyer of The Swig Company and Eric Smith of L&B Realty Advisors, LLP to discuss their reopening strategies across their portfolios, and how these decisions have prompted evolutions of the workplace and traditional office buildings toward the new post-COVID norm.
Boyer, EVP of Innovation & Community Impact at Swig, reflected on the greatest challenges she experienced in the early days of COVID. “There were times when we chose to do things that a mechanical engineer may have refuted, but at a certain point, if a measure creates the perception of safety for a tenant, we might still implement it,” she reflected. In search of science-backed solutions, she armed herself with consultants while keeping her tenants top of mind. Bringing in the right external support helped her and the on-site teams better evaluate recommendations and develop the best strategies for tenant safety while minimizing the costs from blindly implementing ineffective COVID measures.
Coupling ASHRAE and CDC recommendations with tenant needs was no small feat for Smith, EVP of Business Development at L&B. “We can follow every single recommendation out there and spend a lot of money doing it, and tenants still might not feel comfortable returning to work,” Smith commented that ultimately, “tenants are going to run this show.” He further noted that even if he implements every recommendation, it won’t matter if only 50% of his tenants come back. Ultimately, L&B took a property-by-property approach recognizing that every property and its occupants are vastly different and focused on transparent communication to ensure tenant confidence in returning to their offices. L&B used deep building data to evaluate its existing systems and the impact of COVID recommendations, and determined the best strategies for each of its properties.
It’s a precarious act of assuring tenants that you’re being diligent about creating a safe work environment while implementing measures rooted in science. In developing Carbon Lighthouse’s COVID-19 Resiliency program, we focused on avoiding overbuilt solutions that create unwarranted financial pressures or unnecessary energy spikes without any additional safety benefits. We’re helping our clients modernize their portfolios by arming them with the science and data that delivers maximum operational efficiency and resilience – both in the face of the current global pandemic and with future planned and unplanned disruptions.