Commercial real estate firm launches $10M program for office building upgrades in pandemic response

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The new office is coming. Dallas-based Granite Properties, a commercial real estate investment, development and management company, has launched “Inspire Wellness,” a $10 million comprehensive program to enhance the health and safety of its office buildings and new development projects in response to the pandemic.

As part of the “Inspire Wellness” initiative, Granite has retrofitted touchless fixtures, installed UV lighting and is integrating Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) technology to continuously purify the air across Granite’s office properties and new developments in Dallas, Houston, Denver, Atlanta and Southern California.

Around the U.S., office workers sent home when the coronavirus took hold in March are returning to the world of cubicles and conference rooms and facing certain adjustments: masks, staggered shifts, spaced-apart desks, daily questions about their health, closed break rooms and sanitizer everywhere.

“The Granite team has spent the last several months researching and incorporating technology solutions and design updates to make meaningful, long-term improvements to the safety and health of our office building communities. Our comprehensive ‘Inspire Wellness’ program is designed to boost the wellness and productivity of our customers and help mitigate today’s Covid-19 and the spread of future viruses,” said Greg Fuller, President & COO, Granite Properties.

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One of “Inspire Wellness’s” lead initiatives is integrating NPBI, an ozone-free and active air purification solution by Global Plasma Solutions, to all HVAC systems. NPBI produces high concentrations of positive and negative ions that travel continuously through the air and attach to harmful pathogens, like bacteria, mold and viruses, including Covid-19. The ions inactivate pathogens by disrupting the surface proteins and destroy its ability to replicate, according to a Granite Properties news release. A recent independent study conducted by Innovative Bioanalysis and designed for GPS aviation partner, Aviation Clean Air, showed that GPS NPBI reduced SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) by 99.4% in 30 minutes.

Granite is combining NPBI technology with its existing HVAC filtration systems, which has demonstrated equivalency of a MERV 13 filter or higher — meeting or exceeding the ASHRAE standards for fighting Covid-19, and creating a higher air quality similar to most hospital standards.

For some returning to the office there are also advantages, including the opportunity to share chitchat with colleagues again or the ability to get more work done.

Real estate trade group NAIOP Massachusetts estimated the occupancy rate for many office towers in downtown Boston at around 5%, and 10% to 20% in the suburbs. That echoes what is happening in other cities. In New York, real estate firm CBRE said the offices it manages have a 7% occupancy rate in Manhattan and nearly 30% in the suburbs.

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Among the updates Granite Properties is making as part of its initiative:

  • Touchless restroom fixtures, including touchless flush, faucets, soap dispensers, paper as well as foot operated door openers
  • Self-cleaning Nano Septic skins on high-touch surfaces on the entry and restroom doors and in elevators
  • Bipolar Ionization in elevators portfolio-wide
  • UV lighting in all air unit coils of HVAC units
  • Maximized fresh air supply
  • Regular communication with customers via customer surveys to address concerns
  • The constantly updated Granite’s Guide to Re-Entry – available at protocols for enhanced sanitation, social distancing, PPE, elevator capacity, entry and exit from the buildings, air quality, shared amenity spaces, and more
  • Signage throughout the buildings advising customers of the new protocols
  • Outdoor workspaces at many Granite buildings called THE YARD, offering a variety of seating options for work meetings or a quiet space to focus

Granite Properties owns and manages more than 10 million square feet of office properties in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver and Southern California. Granite is an established investor and developer across the U.S., with a focus on high-quality build-to-core projects. Granite is currently working on mixed development projects valued at over $1 billion in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston and Nashville. In Dallas, Granite has projects in Dallas, Plano and Addison. In Tarrant County, Granite has a project in Southlake.

Additional reporting by Associated Press