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China

Cut through the haze: clean office air is a powerful tool that can help grow and protect your China business

JLL presents a white paper on how to achieve good air quality in the workplace, in partnership with PureLiving China


Beijing, December 10, 2015 - The latest front in China's "war on pollution" is the quality of its indoor air, a "critical issue that deserves greater attention," writes Eric Hirsch, Head of Markets for JLL Beijing in a white paper released today, which stresses commercial real estate's indoor air quality impact on daily business operations and company growth. Titled Every breath we take – transforming the health of China's office space, the publication published in partnership with indoor environmental quality consultancy PureLiving China lays out what it calls the "3 As strategy" – Assess, Act and Assure – in order to help stakeholders in the office market create spaces that employees will want to work in, giving them the edge needed in China to attract and retain top talent in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

As people in China spend more time indoors than outdoors, and become more aware of pollution, the need to address the issue of air quality in the office has been dramatically prioritized. "Given that retention is projected to pose even greater staffing challenges for employers in China going forward, [this] is not an issue to be taken lightly," writes Steven McCord, Head of Research for JLL North China, one of the report's primary authors. 

The whitepaper aims to be a major analytical contribution to the subject of indoor air quality in China's office. To maximize the breadth of their research, JLL collaborated with indoor air quality specialists at PureLiving China. Louie Cheng, President of PureLiving China said: "While China does not suffer the highest PM2.5 levels in the world. It is head and shoulders above in both awareness and policy, also making it best-positioned to act on indoor air quality in a global context so that other industrializing nations can follow." 

The new research analyses data from some 50 commercial buildings in China to determine relative impact of design and mechanical choices on indoor air quality. The findings demystify the process and indicate the most cost-effective ways to create clean air.   

Considering the fact that environmental reform in China will be a long-term endeavour, the white paper explores how "sound investments in indoor air quality today can improve office space for tomorrow and beyond." The paper predicts indoor air quality to play a greater role in the future of risk management vis-à-vis employee safety: "Simply put," Cheng said, "employers who provide clean air at work are sending a clear message to staff: They care about their well-being."

Key takeaways include:

  • Good indoor air correlates with as much as twice the level of productivity compared to average air quality and is increasing in significance for talent attraction and retention in China.
  • Though technologically advanced buildings with filtered fresh-air systems tend to be higher-rent buildings, these properties typically only demand marginally higher rent than the market average. Therefore, a small premium in office rent could go a long way to reducing staff turnover, and thus ultimately staffing expenditures.
  • Good indoor air quality can be achieved by following the 3 As: (Assess, Act, and Assure).
    • Assess your workplace situation: Test the current air quality levels in the office space to identify problems before designing a solution to fix them. 
    • Act on that information: Install the necessary equipment to clean the air in your space. Statistical analysis conducted by JLL and its partners revealed that as a group, mechanical systems, specially the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) and filtration functions, make the most meaningful contributions to cleaner indoor air at offices in China.
    • Assure that good air quality is maintained by continuously monitoring performance and automating systems in your accredited space. Maximize your return on investment by certifying your spaces using new industry certifications like RESET and WELL, recognized for measuring actual performance. 

Smart indoor air quality upgrades further help office buildings differentiate themselves from competitors, better enabling them to retain value in any market. With a dedicated focus on how pollution is driving indoor air quality issues within the China office market, JLL and PureLiving China offer up realistic solutions to the current situation, concluding that more market movers need to act now and lead as an example. "While more landlords and employers in the office market are increasingly getting on board," McCord writes, "the reality is [that they continue] to make up the minority, when in actuality, the pursuit of clean indoor air should really be a mainstream priority."

 

Note to Editors:

Download the full report here: Every breath we take – transforming the health of China's office space