Reit Magazine - January/February 2021 - 58

theDNAofESG

Healthy Indoor Environments
Take Hold
BY SARAH BORCHERSEN-KETO

O

ne of the many trends accelerated by COVID-19 has been
the increased attention given to the quality of indoor
environments and how the buildings we inhabit can help
or hinder our daily health and performance, says Joe Allen, head of
the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of
Public Health.
For decades, the notion that the nation's buildings should work to
bolster occupant health took a back seat to focusing on a building's
energy consumption and its ability to simply avoid disease transmission, Allen says. While priorities had started to shift in recent years,
it has taken COVID-19 to fast track the process, he adds.
Companies are now starting to realize, Allen says, that the health
of their buildings plays a key role in the viability of their business.

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reit

" We've seen an explosion of
companies rethinking their
building strategies and their
design strategies and how they
monitor the health of the building, " Allen says. " Every CEO is
now fully aware that building
performance is determining
if they can even get back into
their building at some point. Or
if their employees will even be
willing to go back, " he adds.
Allen, co-author of Healthy

Buildings: How Indoor Spaces
Drive Performance and
Productivity, notes that this
time last year he could have
named every company and
researcher active in the healthy
building arena. That is no longer
the case.
" Everyone in the world is now
thinking about indoor environments and how they can make
us sick or keep us well. And
so, expectations are changing
accordingly, as they should, " he
says.
Allen worked closely with
Boston Properties, Inc.'s
(NYSE: BXP) Health Security
Task Force, created in the
early days of the pandemic,
to review and guide the office
REIT's cleaning and air and
water quality practices. He says
many leading companies have
realized they have a knowledge
gap when it comes to indoor
environmental best practices.
" The really good leaders have
their eye on what comes next.
Of course, they're dealing with
the here and now of the current
crisis, but they're also thinking
about post-COVID and what
investments they should make
now that pay dividends or continue to pay dividends well after
COVID has gone, " Allen says.

BUSINESS ARGUMENT
Allen points out that the
business argument for healthy
buildings existed pre-COVID.
Since the start of the pandemic,
however, it has become " completely obvious that there's no
alternative. "
Some of the reasons why it
has taken until now to change
that focus has been the misperception that healthy buildings



Reit Magazine - January/February 2021

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