Facility, Real Estate Industry Giants Team Up In Response To COVID-19

Well Living Lab, Delos, Cushman & Wakefield, Hines are working together to advance return-to-work guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A comprehensive approach to study the design and operation of workspaces to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses has been formed by the Well Living Lab, Delos, Cushman & Wakefield, and Hines. The plan will include research conducted in the lab, along with applications and interventions into corporate offices in the U.S. and internationally.

(Credit: Well Living Lab)

The Well Living Lab, adjacent to the Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, MN, will use its configurable “living lab” office space to generate insights and evaluate technologies for reducing the risk of respiratory virus transmission in work environments. Rich in sensor technology and highly configurable, the lab is designed to simulate a number of indoor environmental settings.

Cushman & Wakefield will contribute its expertise in workplace strategy and design practices, including protocols for maintaining physical distancing policies and other concepts for returning to offices.

Delos will contribute expertise in air filtration strategies for reducing particulate matter concentration, surface hygiene protocols, algorithms designed to remediate indoor environmental concerns, and software to promote occupant adoption of behavioral changes necessary to support healthy environments.

Hines will contribute lessons learned from its six-decade history of creating innovative, sustainable real estate with thought leadership and management expertise from many of the firm’s key leaders in development, engineering, innovation and property management across product sectors.

“We know that buildings have a tremendous impact on our health and well-being, and the role of indoor spaces has now become more important than ever,” said Paul Scialla, Delos Founder and CEO. “As we contemplate reopening our offices in the wake of COVID-19, it is critical that we take an evidence-based approach to make our workspaces safer when we return. We are excited about the opportunity to extend the Well Living Lab’s pioneering research at the intersection of health, building and behavioral sciences into the field with leading organizations such as Cushman & Wakefield and Hines.”

To advance return-to-work guidelines, the Well Living Lab will leverage its field study capabilities for interventions in Cushman & Wakefield’s and Hines’ offices, along with Delos’ global headquarters in New York. Hines has a global management portfolio of more than 500 properties and is identifying locations, buildings, and workspaces that will complement and fuel this research. Collectively, the information gathered from all participant sites will be aggregated to inform the continued advancement of guidelines. The study is also designed to include participation in other field locations from additional corporate tenants and landlords.

“We look forward to this continued collaboration with Delos and the Well Living Lab as we work together to promote a safe workplace as offices reopen,” said Brett White, Cushman & Wakefield Executive Chairman & CEO. “We’re planning to demonstrate scientific, evidence-based studies to our ongoing product innovation as we help our clients prepare for the coming recovery.”

Hines CEO Jeff Hines commented, “Our people have been pioneers in creating progressive real estate that advances the built environment, so joining this effort is a natural way for us to give back, while continuing to anticipate and meet the needs of tenants, clients and investors.”

Well Living Lab researchers will evaluate ways to optimize the effectiveness of reducing air particulate matter concentration, surface decontamination, behavioral patterns of physical distancing, building entry protocols such as thermal screening, as well as the performance, emotional resiliency, and satisfaction of employees. Delos’ health, building and behavioral scientists will provide advisory support throughout the study. The Well Living Lab’s framework of discovery, translation and application, adapted from Mayo Clinic’s research approach, will move findings into the field to impact lives.

“Our clients are very interested in new workplace strategies that align with the science at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19,” said Despina Katsikakis, Head of Workplace Business Performance, Cushman & Wakefield. “We’re pleased to expand on our 6 Feet Office prototype with further testing in areas like advanced air filtration and surface hygiene technologies.”

Since 2016, the Well Living Lab has assembled leading alliance organizations to study the convergence of building sciences and health sciences. This includes the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation and Well Living Lab alliance member. IWBI established a COVID-19 task force in March 2020 to advance the role of buildings in protecting and enhancing health. Over 450 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics and business leaders, as well as architects, designers, building scientists, and real estate professionals have been collaborating on principles of prevention and preparedness, resiliency, and recovery as it pertains to creating safer and healthier workplaces, both in terms of the physical spaces as well as the policies and protocols that support employee health overall. Members of the task force include 17th Surgeon General of the United States Richard Carmona; Well Living Lab Scientific Advisory Council member and distinguished professor at UCLA in the Fielding School of Public Health and the Geffen School of Medicine Dr. Jonathan Fielding; assistant professor of exposure and assessment science and Director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Joseph Allen; former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO and distinguished professor of population health and health equity at the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey; Cushman & Wakefield’s Head of Workplace Business Performance Despina Katsikakis; Hines Global Sustainability Manager Adam Slakman; former Director-General of Chinese Center for Disease Control & Prevention and distinguished professor at Center for Healthy Cities, Institute for China Sustainable Urbanization, Tsinghua University Wang Yu, M.D., PhD. Insights and conclusions from this task force will inform the ongoing research conducted by the Well Living Lab, and the IWBI will assess the findings of the research platform to continue to advance the WELL Building Standard.

“The Well Living Lab is uniquely positioned to bring together building and health sciences expertise and technologies to generate and disseminate discoveries,” said Dr. Veronique Roger, Well Living Lab Director of Research and Mayo Clinic cardiologist. “This knowledge will help prepare the world for post COVID-19 safe environments in office and other settings.”

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