“Sometimes,” The Hollies sang, “all I need is the air that I breathe and to love you.” Well, commercial real estate people can’t help with the latter, but they are fairly obsessed with the former.
You’re probably not thinking about this most reflexive of acts while you’re in the office, but if you are in a modern building, there may be a control room somewhere in or outside of the building that among other things monitors the very atmosphere office dwellers are inhaling and exhaling. And, if an element of the air gets too high or too low, an adjustment is made to make sure the air breathed is optimal for health. There are filters to remove particulates, and they come in progressively effective strengths.
And with COVID and the airborne virus that causes it on top of everybody’s minds, as workers dribble back to the office, these systems are getting more attention than ever. It’s a dominant topic for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE for short, which offers detailed guidance on what building engineers must do to ready their properties for the reopening.
“The air in here is healthier than the air you breathe on the sidewalk,’’ said Douglas Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization, one of New York’s most active builders and owners. “I always find that I’m much more alert inside the building than I am outside.”
Durst has, for decades, been at the forefront of the green movement in real estate. It’s not virtue signaling but, instead, solid business sense, he has said. Cleaner air attracts a better class of tenants willing to pay higher rents for Durst buildings than the less progressive buildings down the street.