Covid-19 has changed the landlord/tenant dynamics forever, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Proptech, Data & Innovation Summit, which was held online recently.
The current focus on wellbeing has led tenants to realise that offices could be both healthier and more sustainable.
“The combination of the climate challenge and the health emergency has been a real wake-up call for the real estate industry,” said Menno Lammers, initiator and chief proptech officer, Proptech NL. “There’s an awareness that everything is connected, buildings and the environment, the inside and the outside, and that we need to act.”
There is no rowing back from this realisation, experts agree. It is a big wave of change that will reach all markets.
Air quality is one area of increased awareness. People have become conscious of the air they breathe in a space where they spend so many hours each day.
Not just a ‘fluffy nice-to-have’
“Pre-pandemic, a lot of health initiatives were seen as fluffy, nice-to-have but not essential,” said Francesca Brady, CEO, AirRated. “Then they were seen as a competitive advantage, because monitoring air quality improves productivity and has a positive impact on the bottom line. Now a healthy environment is being taken seriously. It’s become a must-have.”
New technology has become more accessible and less expensive, making it easier for landlords to improve the working environment and address tenants’ concerns.
“Buildings should be our safe havens, they shouldn’t make us sick,” said Brady. “There is so much you can do to improve air quality, from using natural materials to ensuring there’s adequate ventilation, from putting carbon filters in to avoiding partitions and windowless rooms.”
Nowadays air quality is a differentiating factor for a building.
“An unventilated space can be an ideal petri dish for Covid-19 transmission,” said Antony Slumbers, CEO, PropAI. “We’ve known about the impact of environmental conditions for a long time but today we can no longer ignore the issue. Health begins with air.”
Technology makes it possible to have huge improvements in air quality with a minimum impact on energy use, according to Michael Grant, COO, Metrikus: “People tend to forget quickly but I think that with Covid-19 the importance of air quality has been learnt and won’t be forgotten.”