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Two Steps to Assure Tenants It’s Safe to Return to the Office

Two Steps to Assure Tenants It’s Safe to Return to the Office

Two Steps to Assure Tenants It’s Safe to Return to the Office 900 600 Carlos Flores

July 17, 2020

By Zach Robin, CEO, Hatch Data

With shelter-in-place (SIP) orders beginning to be lifted, tenants are looking to landlords and property management to guide their timelines for returning to the office. Within that guidance, there are two critical areas of assurance every property manager should be prepared to address.

First, property teams need a clear record of operational activities undertaken throughout the pandemic to properly maintain building space and equipment for occupant safety. Second, they must ensure that operational processes and systems have been appropriately adjusted and communicated to protect occupants and operators alike moving forward.

There are a host of third parties offering guidance on how best to do so, including ASHRAE, GRESB, the CDC, and Harvard. While each organization is defining their own protocol, their general guidance centers around:

  • Health checks on arriving occupants including temperature and questionnaires
  • Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) through optimal HVAC settings for dilution and filtration
  • Communicating clearly and consistently regarding social distancing including signage and floor guides
  • Requiring building staff to wear adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times

With these steps completed, operations teams will be looked upon to continuously provide visibility for tenants on the efficacy of changes and any adjustments made as guidance evolves. At Hatch Data, we have spent the past few months working alongside owners and operators to optimize operations, and we see two key near-term opportunities to give tenants confidence and peace of mind by leveraging granular operating data:

1. Demonstrate That Your Building Is Properly Prepared

As we pointed out in April, CRE buildings across the country reduced energy use by nearly 25% from the beginning of SIP orders. Now, as tenants prepare for their return, it’s important for them to see that their building’s activity was simply reduced, and not retired. An unoccupied baseline is a terrific tool to demonstrate that operations continued appropriately throughout SIP and all systems have been properly maintained and are ready to deliver a healthful experience.Hatch-Data-Unoccupied-Baseline-COVIDHatch Data customers are able to offer occupants a much higher degree of confidence by showing them detailed meter and HVAC usage trends (example above) to demonstrate that key systems have been functioning throughout the past months.

2. Give Interested Tenants Feedback On Building Operations Metrics With A Common System Of Record

In the near-term, tenants will expect greater access to information to assure their workforce that they will be properly protected in the office. While some buildings may be in a better position to benefit from occupancy sensors, people counters, or enhanced IAQ monitors, all buildings can leverage low-cost metering or data extracted from existing building automation systems (BAS) to immediately respond to these requests.

If a building’s HVAC is operating on an extended schedule — whether it’s 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or it’s cranking 24/7 — or if filters have been upgraded to MERV 13 (or both!), the energy “signature” of these changes can be clearly seen in the trend data (example below).

Hatch-Data-Energy-Signature-IAQ-COVIDThese views can be invaluable tools to supplement regular reporting on building performance, validate runtime changes, and better coordinate tenant workforce scheduling. With this data on hand, property teams can quickly demonstrate when the building switched over to the extended HVAC schedule, upgraded or changed filters, introduced additional cleaning, and more. This data also will be useful later to validate that any cost increases from extended HVAC use are necessary and beneficial.

From Reactive to Proactive: How to Do More With Building Data

As operators dynamically adjust operations, it’s critical to have a timely feedback loop to see that changes are having the intended effect.

Instead of waiting for next month’s utility bill or a reactive tenant request, operators now rely on real-time monitoring and advanced analytics to enable visibility into performance of utility loads, sub-metered spaces, and individual equipment. This information, when analyzed against intended operational guidelines and standards, automatically provides the necessary assurance without manual review and empowers operators to stay focused on their greatest asset: tenants.

Over the past decade, we’ve worked with more than 2,000 building operations teams and owners as they seek to simplify energy management, support proactive maintenance practices, and deliver lasting performance improvements. Our software platform is used by leading property teams to bolster tenant peace of mind through operational transparency and regular reporting. With expanded support for utility smart meters, third-party metering networks, and interoperability with most BAS, operators and tenants alike gain unparalleled access to the right information at the right time, from any device. 

smartphones with graphs

At Hatch Data, we like to remind people that despite rapid technological improvements, behind every smart building is a smart building operator. Never have operations been more essential to the success and well-being of our industry, our occupants, and our economy. Having worked alongside property teams of the most successful and experienced CRE spaces across the country for more than a decade, we know that today’s operators are taking the necessary steps to adjust and adapt to these unprecedented times.

We also know they can do even more to support safe occupancy when provided with the right tools for the job. If you’d like to learn more about how Hatch Data empowers property teams to monitor and improve service quality and communicate progress with tenants, please reach out.