I hosted a panel for a webinar with BOMA – the Building Owners and Managers Association – on Tuesday March 29th. Our segment starts at 25:00, after a great overview presentation about LEED, WELL, and Fitwel. We had a good discussion of how to pursue healthy buildings and also how to manage a pandemic by implementing a health security program.
The speakers were Ben Myers, Vice President, Sustainability at Boston Properties, and Melissa Miller, Account Manager at Janitronics. These two companies have formed a symbiotic partnership over the years and worked together to address COVID-19 by standing up a Health Security Task Force in the early days of the pandemic, and issued scientifically-validated guidance for their office locations in April, 2020. This guidance was provided as an open-source resource to the entire industry, and has been updated for 2021 as the science has advanced. Because Boston Properties has had a long term commitment to sustainability and meeting stakeholder (not just customer) needs, and because of Janitronics’ long-term trustworthiness and attention to detail as a valued vendor, they were able to team up effectively to meet the challenging times.
We discussed how healthy buildings enhances the tenant experience and improves retention rates. In the post-pandemic world, office operators may be challenged by reduced demand. Ben says there will be a flight to quality, and Boston Properties is ready to come in ahead of the pack, due to their focus on the customer and especially their attention to health and health aspects of buildings. He mentioned that he sees them pursuing strategies to address indoor air quality on an ongoing basis, rather than periodic testing, and has an IAQ Technical Working Group developing a program right now.
On the webinar, we looked at how BXP has embraced the Fitwel system to validate their healthy building efforts, using their important categories of: promoting occupant safety, increasing physical activity, instilling a sense of wellbeing, supporting social equity, and advancing public health. They have won the “Best in Building Health” award from the Center for Active Design and developed the first ground-up Fitwel-certified project in the nation, at the Back Bay Station redevelopment project.
Janitronics has embraced the system as well, as they are the front-line of engagement for healthy building outcomes. Their cleaning services mean they are in every part of the building, every day, and can implement health strategies on an ongoing basis. They have had many of their employees attain Fitwel Ambassador and have an internal resource committee to share best practice. This means they can respond better to their client, Boston Properties.
I have been leading the strategy at Janitronics to embrace healthy building strategies. Their commitment to the topic also means they are helping Boston Properties at the other end of the enterprise: the investors. With ESG as such a huge attention-grabber at the institutional investor level, it is important that vendors like Janitronics can feed up into the metrics that Boston Properties is pursuing for their ESG reporting.
In the months to come, I’ll be working with Janitronics to pursue many ESG metrics such as GHG emissions, water use, and waste generation. We are tracking employee issues like diversity, trainings, and social services (Janitronics provides financial literacy training, for instance). And there are also governance issues to track, such as gender pay equity, conflict of interest policies and whistleblower protections. ESG enables a business to see into non-financial aspects of their operations in order to avoid risk and engage transparency to the benefit of their stakeholders. Investors like this.
I look forward to working more with Janitronics and Boston Properties to advance sustainability in the built environment. Healthy buildings are good for people right now, and for future generations. Let me know if I can help you with your ESG journey.