07/09/2021 | by
Image of a large building managed by Vornado Realty Trust.
Vornado was one of the first real estate companies to earn the Fitwel Viral Response Module designation, a certification of practices designed to mitigate the spread of contagious diseases in buildings.

This is a case study that's a part of the 2021 REIT Industry ESG Report, an annual report detailing the REIT industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance details in the publicly traded U.S. REIT industry. Featured case studies showcase REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors and serve as a practical tool for stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives.

Healthy buildings contribute to a healthy society. Vornado Realty Trust (Vornado) believes that consistent health programming and communications protocols not only mitigate health risks within its buildings, but they also create a responsible behavior framework for employees, tenants and visitors to consider elsewhere in their daily lives.

"Through the pandemic, Vornado both accelerated and expanded upon our company's strong commitment to healthy buildings. Our team worked tirelessly though the pandemic to ensure that our buildings were available to tenants in a safe and healthy way. By adopting Fitwel's Viral Response Module, we took another significant step forward in affirming this commitment."
Daniel Egan, Senior Vice President, Sustainability & Utilities

Vornado was among the first five real estate companies to earn the Fitwel Viral Response Module ("VRM") designation—a third-party certification of policies and practices designed to mitigate the spread of contagious diseases within buildings. Vornado's pandemic response protocol aligns with VRM's three pillars to Enhance Indoor Environments, Encourage Behavioral Change, and Build Occupant Trust, and includes the following:

  • FDA-approved thermal scanning practices, social distancing, and PPE requirements in lobbies and common areas
  • Enhanced Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and humidity control policies, as recommended by CDC and ASHRAE, as well as ongoing IAQ monitoring and testing
  • Legionella testing and water-management plans
  • Enhanced cleaning, disinfecting & maintenance protocols provided by Building Maintenance Service LLC, Vornado's facility services company
  • Hand hygiene stations, including education and signage
  • Enhanced stakeholder collaboration plan, including its employee survey and emergency communications plans through "Live.Work.Do.," Vornado's proprietary mobile application
  • Paid sick leave and family support policies for employees in Daily health screenings and onsite COVID-19 testing for employees
  • Weekly rotational personnel plans, to limit workforce occupancy to no more than 50%

Vornado received its VRM certification in December 2020, complementing existing Fitwel certifications through its single tenant program at 731 Lexington Avenue in New York, and the multi-tenant, whole-building program at theMART in Chicago and the 555 California Street complex in San Francisco. Vornado is also a corporate member of Fitwel's Leadership Advisory Board.

In addition to its Fitwel certifications, Vornado owns and manages more than 27 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings with a portfolio concentrated in the nation's key market—New York City—along with premier assets in both Chicago and San Francisco.

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