PORTLAND, OR—As commercial real estate companies pivot to a newnormal with the slow phased re-entry to the workplace, UnicoProperties has a strategy to deliver a safe and sanitized officeenvironment across its portfolio. This includes plans for USBancorp Tower located at 111 SW 5th Ave.

|

The 1.2 million-square-foot tower is Portland's largest officebuilding. As a LEED Platinum building, US Bancorp Tower alreadyadheres to a much higher standard for air quality and overallhealth of the building environment.

|

Tenants at the building include US Bank, New Relic,SurveyMonkey, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn and Digital Trends.Prior to COVID-19, approximately 5,000 people moved through theclass-A office building on a daily basis. While that number won'tbe the same with re-entry, Unico continues to prioritize meetingand exceeding its tenants' needs during the pandemic.

|

"Pre-pandemic, US Bancorp Tower saw about 4,000 to 5,000 peoplemove through the building daily. It was a bustling environment,essentially like a small city," Keren Eichen, Unico Propertiesdirector of real estate services, tells GlobeSt.com. "The officeenvironment will look different when tenants choose to return andit's our job right now to clearly communicate to them: here are thesteps we 've taken to help you and here's how this affects youbecause this does affect everybody. Right now, we're seeing about10% of our tenants in the building. It's a mix of tenants, most ofwhich are focused on IT and server equipment so that people canwork from home. We've informally surveyed our tenants and inconversations with them, we have learned that a large number oftenants are planning to come back full force once the restrictionsare lifted. The number of tenants who want to return oncerestrictions are lifted surprised us. We expected it'd be about 5%,but it's much higher than that. When that happens, we're ready. Weplan to personally call every tenant before they re-enter thebuilding. We plan to ask each one 'what are your occupancy plans,your concerns about re-entry and your intentions?' We want to makepersonal contact with every tenant."

|

For re-entry at US Bancorp Tower, Unico has undertaken specificefforts at the building to provide the safest work environmentpossible for its employees, tenants, service partners andvisitors.

|

"For our tenants, we want to make their journey from enteringour parking structure to entering their office suite is as cleanand safe as possible," Eichen tells GlobeSt.com. "Well beforeCOVID, we were working on a long-term plan to future-proof thebuilding, which included a $9 million elevator modernization. Atthat time, we had no idea about a global pandemic, we were justfocused on creating the office of the future."

|

Tenant Survey: Unico surveyed its tenants toassess individual re-entry plans so that Unico can plan foroccupancy in the building and learn more about what its tenantswant most upon return to the building.

|

Premium Signage: Extremely large and clearsignage in all communal spaces outlining social distancingguidelines, directional information, etc.

|

Building Entrances/Exits: Designated entranceand exit doors at all access points to minimize cross traffic aspart of Unico's initiative to encourage distancing.

|

Elevators: Reprogrammed elevators willautomatically limit the total number of people per car tofour.  Destination Dispatch software was designed to movepeople in the most efficient way possible. In pre-COVID times, thismeant efficiently assigning elevators to take the most people totheir destination with the fewest stops in between. Unico is nowusing a different feature that counts elevator occupants. It doesthis via interaction with the touchscreens that replacedtraditional up/down elevator call buttons. National elevatorconsulting firm, Lerch Bates, evaluated the size of the interiorelevator cab and determined that four occupants could sociallydistance in the elevators at US Bancorp Tower, so the maximumoccupant count has been set at four. In addition, designatedelevator queuing areas, as well as floor decals encouragingdistancing in all elevators, including the parking structureelevators, are being implemented.

|

Stairwells: One internal stairwell in thebuilding and one stairwell in the parking structure are open andavailable so tenants can avoid elevators if they so choose.

|

Separate HVAC units on each floor: This furtherisolates tenants to individual sources of air which comes directlyfrom outside and recirculates back outside. In addition, Merv13filters have been installed, which offer the best air qualitybecause they capture microscopic particles such as airborne virusesand bacteria from coughs and sneezes. While there is no guaranteeof protecting from coronavirus, this filter offers the assurance ofbreathing cleaner air.

|

Prioritized Janitorial Staff: The janitorialstaff has been maintained throughout the pandemic to ensurebuildings were highly sanitized. An enhanced cleaning protocolusing Protexus electrostatic disinfectant was implemented in Marchwhich continues as tenants re-enter offices.

|

"We've always had a significant presence of day cleaning in thebuilding and now our janitors are focusing on wiping down andsanitizing high-touch surfaces, which includes elevator buttons,door handles, our security desk counter, anything that someonewould put their hands on," Eichen tells GlobeSt.com.

|

Furniture: Removal of all upholstered furnitureand furniture in common areas where people congregatedpre-COVID-19.

|

Masks: All Unico employees, building vendorsand service providers are required to wear masks and they willencourage tenants and visitors to wear face coverings.

|

Supplies: Hand sanitizing stations within thelobby, with plans to install additional sanitizing stationsthroughout the common areas as they become available. The buildinghas a two-month supply of cleaning products and paper suppliesavailable on-site.

|

Contactless Parking: A contactless parkingstructure is available for tenants and visitors. The new mobilecredentialing allows for touchless elevator usage from the lobby byusing a cell phone. From the parking garage entry side, the camerawill read a license plate, raise the gate and allow entry, thusallowing for contactless parking.

|

"You're not touching an access card, you're not pulling anythingout, you're not wiping anything on the access reader and you'redriving through," Eichen tells GlobeSt.com. "The HID App ontenants' phones functions exactly the same way a traditional accesscard does. With the HID App installed on your phone and registeredin the building's access control system, a tenant can swipe theirphone to access a locked floor in the same way that they'd swipe anaccess card to access a secure floor. As access control technologymodernizes, we no longer use 'access cards' but rather'credentials'. A credential can be a fob, access card orphones."

|

In some applications other than at US Bancorp Tower, there arecredentials as secure as retinal scanning or fingerprint scanning.In other words, a credential is simply the method in which thesecurity system recognizes a person as having rights to access adestination.

|

"US Bancorp Tower is our biggest individual building in ourentire portfolio, but the portfolio is 75 buildings in six majormarkets across the country," Brian Pearce, Unico Propertiesexecutive vice president of real estate services, tellsGlobeSt.com. "Four of those markets have actually reopened sothey're much farther along in the process."

|

Occupational safety and health professionals use a frameworkcalled the "hierarchy of controls" to select ways of controllingworkplace hazards. In other words, the best way to control a hazardis to systematically remove it from the workplace rather thanrelying on workers to reduce their exposure, according to theOccupational Safety and Health Administration.

|

During a COVID-19 outbreak when it may not be possible toeliminate the hazard, the most effective protection measures are(listed from most effective to least effective): engineeringcontrols, administrative controls, safe work practices (a type ofadministrative control) and PPE. There are advantages anddisadvantages to each type of control measure when considering theease of implementation, effectiveness and cost. In most cases, acombination of control measures will be necessary to protectworkers from exposure to COVID-19, says OSHA.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown is an editor for the south and west regions of GlobeSt.com. She has 25-plus years of real estate experience, with a regional PR role at Grubb & Ellis and a national communications position at MMI. Brown also spent 10 years as executive director at NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area chapter, where she led the organization to achieving its first national award honors and recognition on Capitol Hill. She has written extensively on commercial real estate topics and edited numerous pieces on the subject.