The world is currently facing a pandemic that has reshaped how people, businesses, and communities operate and interact. Leading organizations are boldly questioning long-held assumptions about the way we work and the role of the workplace as we reimagine the future of a post-COVID-19 era. With people spending up to 90% of their time indoors, there is an urgent need to redesign and reengineer indoor spaces, including offices, commercial properties, institutions, and homes, to create workplaces that are productive and safe with the correct capacity to prevent the spread of pathogens and diseases.
With a strategy to engineer safer built environments for people and organizations returning to their offices, The IMMUNE Building Standard™ has been developed as a set of measures, technical solutions, and facility management practices to certify how built environments can withstand present and future health challenges and minimize the impact of a pandemic, such as COVID-19, and other bacteriological or toxicological threats.
Inspired by technologies and procedures successfully applied in hospitals and “clean rooms,” and adapted for use in commercial real estate development, the IMMUNE standard assessment covers more than 100 recommended measures for buildings to implement. An authorized building assessor in the field of sustainable building design, development, and certification, will evaluate and award a property with one of three IMMUNE labels — Strong (3 stars), Powerful (4 stars), or Resilient (5 stars) — based on the number of points received during the official assessment. The award demonstrates a building’s diligence and commitment to implementing the Healthy by Design® approach while considering best practices to achieve the IMMUNE standard.
The IMMUNE index measures include architectural engineering, technology, design, and two levels of operational practices — perpetual and ready-to-action. It also offers a step-by-step guide for anyone involved in the realm of real estate development, including architects, engineers, designers, developers, and building owners, with target benchmarks to help them create a resilient future workplace.
As per the recommended engineering and design in the criteria, the workplace of the future could include various unique features, such as:
- IMMUNE Stewards — deployed within each building to implement and monitor activities.
- The IMMUNE Quarantine Room — a specially designed, fully equipped, and ready-to-use area in case of an immediate need to isolate any exposed people.
- The Emergency IMMUNE Warehouse — contriving a rapid and effective relief logistic system for pandemic-response, containing specific materials, including personal protective equipment (PPE). The steward will be responsible for stocking and distributing supplies.
- The IMMUNE Digital Twin — digital screens placed in reception areas to display immunity-boosting indicators, such as daily improvement of indoor air quality in comparison to outside air, water parameters versus the water source received from the city network, and different measures imposed by the IMMUNE steward.
As an inaugural version, the IMMUNE standard will remain under frequent review and constant evolution as the medical, scientific, architectural, and engineering bodies arrive at new conclusions to combat the pandemic. To promote widespread adaption at a time of global crisis, the IMMUNE building standard has been developed as an open-source platform to invite collaboration, support, and contributions from a variety of experts for further updates to the criteria. It can be used by any international building assessment and certification entity to certify buildings at any stage of their life cycle and type, such as new, in-use, or a regeneration project, and covers building types, including offices, hospitality, retail, residential, health care, and education.
IMMUNE is a benchmark for encouraging the Healthy by Design approach of commercial real estate, based on scientific research that judges a building’s efficiency on its safety level. It was pioneered by Liviu Tudor, a European property and development entrepreneur and president of the European Property Federation, who has a reputation for implementing sustainable business strategies within the property sector that create a positive impact for people and businesses. Tudor initiated the project in April 2020, with a research and development investment of more than $1 million for prototyping and testing. He deployed a team of 20 experts from the health, technology, real estate, architectural, and engineering sectors to design the multilateral framework consisting of research from specialist facilities in the health industry to be applied across the wider property industry.
“Safety measures, such as physical distancing and PPE, applied in the current context within office buildings and other built environments do not hold long-term viability for business and offices to operate to capacity,” Tudor said. “As we enhance our immune system, so too we should strengthen the immunity of our buildings by rethinking how they are designed, constructed, maintained, and run. To provide a new global standard as a reference for buildings of all types, we enlisted an expert team of R&D professionals that borrowed learnings from hospitals and clean rooms to develop the model for future facilities design and management that could be applied to buildings worldwide. IMMUNE will boost morale and confidence, building the trust factor between landlords and tenants and employers and employees as they contemplate their return to workplaces. We hope that the IMMUNE Building Standard, after all conclusions are drawn, will become a ‘mandatory by law’ standard in the same way the fire code is imperative for good functioning of any building. Ultimately, the aim of this method of adapting our buildings will be what good companies have always wanted: a safe and productive environment where people can enjoy their work, collaborate with their colleagues, and achieve the objectives of their organizations.”
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