Could UV Lighting Help Prevent the Next Pandemic?

UV lighting has been around in various forms for many decades. The use of the technology has been pivotal in the coronavirus pandemic in getting big jobs over the finish line, including for major transit systems.

However, when stories of businesses using UV portals that are used to disinfect entrants to office space, we must examine the situation more closely.

Why? Because the effectiveness for these units is advertised as 90%. And when it comes to dealing with a deadly virus this is arguably both insufficient and dangerous.

For example, when you browse the disinfectant isle of your local grocer, you will notice that the effectiveness stated on their labels is a minimum of 99.9%.

Accordingly, a key scenario to beware of with solving any problem with technology is to avoid providing a false sense of security.


Oxford Properties Audacious Sustainability Bets

Oxford Properties The Stack, the first zero carbon emission skyscraper in North America, is a case in point.

In addition, the firm is one of the pioneers of digital twin technology which generates continuous, incremental energy efficiencies in it's buildings.

The company is also an early adopter of mass timber, enabling a new development project to generate sustantially less CO2 emissions compared to one constructed with steel and concrete. 

In addition to digital and construction related methods, Oxford is leveraging human based practices and behaviors that reap added benefits that bolster the firm's sustainability impact.

However, it may be the firm's underlying spirit about sustainability that is most impressive.

Oxford's COO Dean Hopkins stated in an interview recently that the firm will even walk away from potential business. "Why? Because we have made a promise to pay the pensions of approximately 500,000 members in Ontario - police officers, firefighters and municipal workers - and if we fail to address climate change, we will have ultimately broken that promise."



Businesses Prevent Loss of Trust with Safe RTO

Warren Buffet testified on Capital Hill in the early 90's regarding the Solomon Brothers securities investigation. He retold what he said to the employees of the firm: 'Loose money for the firm and I will be understanding, loose a shread of reputation and I will be ruthless.'

With the coronavirus crisis showing no signs of abating, we are in a moment in history in which business leaders need to create strategies that earn the trust of their people. This applies even more so for the owners of commercial buildings.

And halfmeasures will not suffice.

The Covid-19 office environment can only be made safe when screeening, touchless technology, air handling including enhanced filtration, sanitation and indoor air quality monitoring are all carefully mapped out and executed.

And this will only be possible with an approach that leans into the emerging science and innovation. Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a recent interview that 'humily is essential' because we are still learning a great deal about this virus.

The spirit to actively learn the emerging science and innovation is the basis for an effective counter enabling us to win the trust and loyalty of our people and the tenants that occupy our buildings. 


A New Safe Building Standard

There are multiple ways to approach ensuring the safety of those that will eventually re-occupy our office buildings. New applications of technology such as the use of UV light to reduce viral load have appeared in high profile stories covered in the media.

Other examples of leveraging technology to make buildings safer include touchless access control, ionization air purification, air quality sensors - and the list goes on.

However, what CRE owners need now is to deploy standardized methods to rate buildings with regard to their Covid-19 countermeasures' effectiveness.

And there are multiple protocols now in use to measure the wellness of buildings including WELL, Fitwel and Underwriters Laboratories.

By evaluating each of these and determining the best fit for their buildings, commercial property owners can differentiate themselves as good stewards of their properties and win the lasting trust and loyalty of their tenants.


Safe RTO and Ionization Technology 

A number of high profile stories in the media have recounted the use of this method's use for reducing coronavirus in buildings. There was also a study conducted in Spain that corroborates its effectiveness.

But a deeper dive into the technology's history reveals some important facts.

Namely, the retailer Sharper Image sold a massive quantity of its 'Ionic Breeze' air purifier. Consumer Reports then published a negative review of the product which triggered a class action lawsuit by consumers forcing Sharper Image into Ch. 11 bankruptcy.

In addition, products based on this technology generate ozone which has been shown to be harmful even in low concentrations; moreover, the EPA shows no units based on this technology on its list of approved products.

One thing I have learned based on nearly four decades of work involving technology is that one should never write off any method. And this is because an entrepreneur can come along and revive a technology considered obsolete. 

In summary, the smart money - for the time being at least - is on avoiding this method.