With the implementation of “Reopening Oregon” and “Safe Start Washington”, landlords, tenants, and vendors are confronted with many questions about how to safely reopen commercial office buildings. NAI Elliott’s Real Estate Managers have created the following recommendations based on industry resources, governmental guidance, and on the ground experience.
Note: combatting the COVID-19 pandemic requires broad participation to be effective. NAI Elliott takes recommended tactics which best facilitate the success of the broad array of tenant businesses in our portfolio.
1. Assess the current functionality of the access control system. In the initial shut-down of office buildings, many access control functions were adjusted.
2. Establish a building access schedule that limits guests appropriate to tenant mix.
3. Install signage to direct traffic in patterns that facilitate social distancing.
4. Install hand sanitization stations at building entrance(s)/exit(s) as soon as product is available.
5. Assess the financial and physical feasibility of installing touchless door openers on external entrance(s)/exit(s).
6. Audit access fobs with all tenants ensuring that building ownership/management has an up to date list of individuals with access. Consider updating emergency contacts and other tenant info in the effort. This information will be particularly helpful in response to building exposure to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.
1. Institute a system that allows for social distancing waiting for and riding elevators. Install conspicuous signage, considering both wall-mounted and self-standing, to reflect the system employed.
2. Utilize stair access as a part of the system for access to or exit from upper floors.
3. Assess if direct access to the building from adjoining parking garages can minimize use of elevators.
Garages and Parking Lots:
1. We do not believe blocking off parking spaces will enhance social distancing or prove feasible or practical.
2. Implement a system with conspicuous signage at any common entrance(s)/exit(s) that facilitate social distancing.
3. Evaluate exhaust system schedule to maximize air flow.
1. If the HVAC system was deactivated for a closed building, employ a qualified technician to assess the system before re-activating. Pay particular attention to fluids in a hydronic systems without timely chemical treatment and assess if uncirculated fluid can host disease-causing bacteria.
2. Clean hard surfaces and moving parts of all units with particular attention to coils. It is not deemed necessary or effectual by industry partners to clean ductwork.
3. Evaluate the feasibility to replace and/or upgrade existing filters to those with MERV 13 rating (note: industry standard is MERV 8).
4. Assess air intakes and clean as necessary.
5. Maximize circulation of fresh air in the building. Typical air changes are six per hour and we recommend 10 to 12 per hour. Inform tenants that added circulation may result in uncommon hot/cold issues and recognize that additional utility costs may be incurred.
6. Target 40-45% humidity in the building to optimally combat the virus.
7. Audit common area and tenant vents to ensure none are covered or blocked.
Common Area Amenities:
1. Utilize stanchions and signage to establish physical distancing for building employees such as security.
2. Install hand sanitization stations as soon as available and practical.
3. Remove or restrict occupancy in areas designed for congregation including seating areas and shared workspaces.
4. Close non-essential amenities including exercise and fitness areas.
5. Use signage to create traffic patterns that facilitate social distancing in necessary amenities including bike storage and mail rooms.
6. Consider modifying shared conference rooms to limit the number of people congregating and ensure physical distancing.
1. Assess if the standard frequency of cleaning will be appropriate for building occupancy.
2. Assess if janitorial vendor has access to supplies to restock common area hand sanitizer, disinfecting stations, and restroom supplies.
3. Ensure janitorial employees are trained on EPA guidelines for appropriate product use.
4. Confer with janitorial vendor on cost and availability for post-exposure cleaning. If necessary, solicit quotes from other vendors who specialize in post-exposure disinfecting.
1. Before an exposure occurs, identify vendors who can conduct a full disinfecting of common areas and obtain bids. We are seeing a wide variation in bids, especially when cleaning is required on a tight timeline.
2. Employ building measurements to give vendors square footages of common area spaces including hallways, restrooms, lobbies. This can facilitate a bid without requiring a vendor to go onsite.
3. If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is reported, clean all common areas and inform tenants that a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been present in the and the complete cleaning that will occur. Do not collect or share any personal information of the individual diagnosed with COVID-19.
1. Install signage stating maximum occupancy of the restroom based on a safe social distancing load of 75 square feet per occupant.
2. Post notices with best practices on hand washing.
3. Increase the frequency of sanitizing cleaning and ensure that vendors are utilizing materials compliant with EPA, CDC, and OSHA standards. Increase supply of hand soap to ensure dispensers are full.
4. Assess the viability of UV-C sanitizing lights and implement where possible.
5. Assess the viability of installing touchless faucets and towel and soap dispensers.
6. Add additional waste baskets near both sides of restroom doors to facilitate using a towel to touch handle.
7. Assess the viability of installing automatic door openers or foot openers to facilitate touchless opening of doors.
8. Check P-traps to ensure seals are functioning properly after periods of limited use.
9. Remove, or mark off any extra furniture to facilitate social distancing.
1. If service was increased while buildings were unoccupied or experiencing reduced occupancy, assess the need to retain that increased service.
1. Assess the available resources of established sign vendors to implement a building-wide program that reflects local, state, and federal recommendations.
2. Determine the available budget and prioritize signage focusing on high-traffic, high-touch common areas.