Romanian real estate investor develops new standard that certifies office building resilience to pandemic
Liviu Tudor, one of Romania's biggest office owners, has developed a new standard that certifies the resilience of office buildings to a pandemic or similar risks. He has launched the IMMUNE Building Standard open-source, aiming to help office building owners worldwide regain their tenants' trust in this difficult market context generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As work from home has become the new norm among white-collar employees worldwide, office building owners are looking to convince companies to bring their employees back to the office.
"The pandemic has radically changed the way we live, work, and interact. Excepting hospitals, clinics, and 'clean rooms' dedicated to scientific research, no other building is prepared to face a pandemic challenge like Covid-19. Since people are spending up to 90% of their time indoors, the need to redesign and reengineer the built environments, mainly responsible for our health, becomes more and more articulated in order to obtain resilience to pandemic events as well as future bacteriological or toxicological threats," explained Liviu Tudor, founder and president of Genesis Property, and president of the European Property Federation.
Genesis Property owns the West Gate Business District and Novo Park office buildings in Bucharest, with a total gross leasable area of 150,000 sqm.
"Just as we take care of our immune system and constantly seek to boost it, there is a need for solutions to improve the immunity of the buildings in which we spend most of our time and to prepare them for the new normality. This is how the IMMUNE concept was created, with the mission to boost the immunity of office buildings and design the healthy environment in which we will work in the future," he added.
The IMMUNE Building Standard was developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in a very short timeframe, following a EUR 1 million investment in research, development, and implementation. A team of 20 experts in health, technology, architecture, constructions, engineering, and facility management in Romania worked on defining this standard.
The IMMUNE standard is inspired by technologies and procedures developed and successfully applied in hospitals and medical clinics, adapted for offices. It is based on an index of over 100 measures recommended for implementation in buildings, which include technical solutions for architectural engineering, technology, design, and operational practices applied permanently or ready to activate in specific risk scenarios.
Some of the measures are a premiere for office building occupants and could prove instrumental in ensuring the security and health of workplaces of the future. Among these are IMMUNE Stewards, designated representatives in each building to ensure the implementation and monitoring of activities for the safety and health of people, as well as for the design of spaces, an IMMUNE Quarantine space – a dedicated area designed, fully equipped, and ready to use in case of the immediate need to isolate exposed people –, and an Emergency IMMUNE Warehouse which is a rapid and effective relief logistic system for pandemic-response. Specific protective materials will permanently be deposited there, including personal protective equipment. The IMMUNE Steward will be responsible for maintaining the stock and distributing all materials needed in the building for all occupants' safety.
Another measure is the IMMUNE Digital Twin, consisting of digital screens placed in receptions to display immunity-boosting indicators such as daily improvement of indoor air quality in comparison to outside air, water parameters compared to those of the water from the city network, and different relevant information about the functioning of IMMUNE equipment throughout the building.
"IMMUNE was designed for people, for each of us who want to return to the office without concerns that we might get sick – of Covid-19, but not only – and might endanger the health of those we love. This is why it is not only a standard; it is a window into the office market of the future and the future of our professional lives," said Liviu Tudor.
The standard will work similarly to those used for certifying green buildings. An authorized building assessor in the field of sustainable building design, development, and certification will evaluate a building based on an IMMUNE Assessment Scoring Index and will award it with one of the three labels, Strong - 3 stars, Powerful - 4 stars, or Resilient – 5 stars. These are based on the score obtained by the building during the official evaluation.
The standard is dedicated to office buildings and can also be adapted for buildings with other uses, like hospitality, retail, health care, education, or residential.
"Health measures applied in the current context are not enough to ensure long term viability of business environments, whether offices or hospitality and retail spaces which entail the presence of many people. Just like no building can be imagined today without a fire prevention standard, we believe that IMMUNE will become a natural part of a building's healthy life. Specialists have not reached the final conclusion about this pandemic yet. IMMUNE is open-source, and we have already received an impressive response to our invitation to collaboration, which remains open, aiming to develop the final version of the standard that will design the healthy workplace of the future," concluded Liviu Tudor, founder and president of Genesis Property.
The first building that will be certified with the highest IMMUNE level in the following period is the H3 building in the West Gate Business District, fully occupied by Ericsson, where the implementation of measures included in the standard is already in progress. The IMMUNE evaluation and certification process is conducted by Build Green, an independent company and a contributor to the development of the IMMUNE standard and which offers office building evaluation and certification for BREEAM, LEED, EDGE, and WELL standards.
(Photo source: the company)