Even before the Covid-19 crisis, sick building syndrome – often caused by poor air quality, chemical pollutants or volatile organic compounds – was a scourge for many office workers. As more became known about why people who worked in certain buildings became chronically ill, it sparked a wellness push that saw trendy innovations like plant-covered walls popping up in many offices, especially co-working spaces that strive to empower entrepreneurs and attract startups.
But the key to curing a sick building lies in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and according to a major commercial property rental company in the Tampa Bay area, upgrading HVAC doesn’t come cheap.
“We’ve released mid-six figures in our portfolio,” said Mack Feldman, vice president of Feldman Equities Catalyst“Landlords may be reluctant to invest in improving HVAC because this is not visible. It’s not something you can put in a marketing brochure to encourage leasing. “
Feldman Equities manages several office buildings in St. Petersburg, including the First Central Tower at 360 Central Ave. Feldman, the son of CEO Larry Feldman, specializes in wealth management and said now is not the time to save money when it comes to promoting healthy workplaces. But money isn’t the only problem – it’s supply.
“Everyone in the world orders HVAC filtration,” he said. “It was a real challenge to get manufacturers to prioritize you.”
Feldman Equities thinks it hit an HVAC winner in the form of REME HALO, a filter device made by RGF Environmental Group in Riviera Beach. It attaches to the outside of an air duct and the filter cell extends into the duct itself. Feldman said it is unique among all the products his team has tested because it eliminates microbials, odors and particles in the air.
REME HALO uses a process known as ionization to clean the air moving through a building, Feldman said.
“It charges the air electrically in a way that not only kills viruses, but it will also trap dust, dander, pollen, even fungal spores and small insects,” he explained. “And the great thing about this system is that it’s not just a UV light system, which is what many other landlords across the country are doing. That’s germicidal, but ionization in combination with a UV system will tackle all kinds of other pollutants in the air, even odors and all types of organic odors. “
Feldman said his company’s Tampa office is right next to a cafe in the building, so it always smelled like fried food. By upgrading the HVAC system, he immediately noticed an improvement in the odor and the general quality of the air.
Due to the sheer volume of office space it manages in Tampa Bay, Feldman Equities was able to fill large orders of the REME HALO devices faster than smaller landlords who don’t have as much purchasing power. Feldman said the company will install the devices in all high-traffic common areas per floor, depending on whether tenants request it. And he firmly believes that having an upgraded HVAC system will be a powerful marketing tool in the post-Covid commercial real estate industry.
“We’re going to put up signs in the lobby,” he said, “to let tenants know, ‘Hey, we’re doing something different than any other landlord in town to make it a little bit safer, a little more comfortable, to get back. come to the building. ”