Frequent cleaning and high indoor air quality the benchmark at malls, hotels

By Valerie Kor / EdgeProp Singapore | June 26, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
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CapitaLand applying anti-microbial disinfectant that guards against bacteria and viruses for up to six months (Photo: CapitaLand)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - As crowds head back out in Phase Two of the lifting of “circuit breaker” measures which began on June 19, retail mall landlords and property management companies have adapted to a “new normal” by stepping up on cleaning and disinfecting.
Measures include disinfecting common surfaces and toilets, installing safe-distancing markers, providing masks and hand sanitisers, and setting up contact-tracing systems and temperature checks at entrances.

Ensuring safe shared spaces

In shared spaces like shopping centres, viruses may linger on high-contact areas or spread through droplets in the air among people in close proximity. Hence, property managers are stepping up on cleaning and disinfecting high-contact areas and limiting capacity.
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For instance, at its 18 retail malls islandwide, CapitaLand is coating areas such as lift buttons, door entrance buttons, touch screens, toilets, and family rooms with an anti-microbial disinfectant that guards against bacteria and viruses for up to six months. Floor mats that can disinfect the soles of visitors’ shoes have also been introduced at entrances to CapitaLand’s malls.
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Lifts across CapitaLand’s nine business parks in India can be operated with a pedal system to minimise contact (Photo: CapitaLand)
CapitaLand is also testing a contactless lift activation system as well as an automated UV disinfection system for escalator handrails at Atrium@Orchard. Already, such contactless technologies are in use at CapitaLand’s nine business parks in India, where pedal systems can be used to operate lifts, entrances and faucets, minimising contact.
At Lendlease’s four retail malls, namely Jem, 313@somerset, Parkway Parade and Paya Lebar Quarter, a spokesperson shares that high-contact areas such as lift buttons and balustrades are cleaned more frequently. Facilities such as parents’ rooms and concierge counters go through deep cleaning daily after operating hours. Hand sanitisers are also provided at various stations, including lift lobbies and concierge counters.
Frasers Property, which owns and manages retail malls, hotels and serviced residences, offices and business parks, and industrial and logistics facilities, has rearranged furniture at common areas to prevent congregation. Limits to lift occupancy and queue numbers have also been imposed across its serviced residences, office spaces and malls.
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Staff at Pan Pacific Hotels use electrostatic sprayers to apply healthcare-grade disinfectant solutions (Photo: Pan Pacific Hotels Group)
Meanwhile, in preparation for travel to resume, the hospitality sector has stepped up its precautionary measures. At hotels under the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, cleaning frequency has increased by five-fold. The group has partnered hygiene company Diversey to set up strict cleaning protocols, which include using electrostatic sprayers to apply healthcare-grade disinfectant solutions. Guestrooms are inspected under UV light by Ultronic Systems to ensure complete disinfection and sanitisation, while linens are laundered at 70°C.
Desmond Sim, head of research at CBRE, says, “In time to come, sanitisation hardware will become the norm. Even though it incurs some cost, it will be part of every landlord and facility management’s corporate social responsibility.”
However, Sim says that apart from hardware, “software” is also important. Even with the amenities installed, it still depends on whether people observe the rules and make use of them. Property management, tenants, shoppers and occupiers have to work together to ensure a safe environment during the pandemic.
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Focus on indoor air quality

As Covid-19 predominantly spreads through respiratory droplets, an important way to prevent an outbreak is to ensure that the indoor air is frequently disinfected.
Developer CapitaLand has equipped lifts at its retail malls with PhotoPlasma air disinfection system since the circuit breaker officially ended on June 2. It eliminates airborne and surface micro-organisms such as viruses and bacteria. Additionally, UV disinfection robots have been progressively deployed across its malls to disinfect floors with high shopper traffic, starting from Tampines Mall and Bukit Panjang Plaza.
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Since the end of the circuit breaker, all lift cars in CapitaLand malls, such as Tampines Mall pictured above, have been installed with PhotoPlasma air disinfection system that eliminates airborne and surface micro-organisms such as virus and bacteria (Photo: CapitaLand)
Such robots have also been deployed by Frasers Property at retail malls including Changi City Point, Northpoint City and Waterway Point. Each robot is equipped with a camera, built-in sensors, software and ultraviolet-C light module that uses UV-C rays to eradicate viruses.
Frasers Property sanitises air-conditioning and ventilation systems, as well as car park exhaust ducts, grease pipes and sewer lines with disinfecting agents.
Lendlease shares that air purging across retail malls and offices under their management is done weekly. Air handling units and fan coil units are also sterilised.
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Frasers Property has deployed UV disinfectant robots that are equipped with a camera, built-in sensors, software and UV light module that emits rays to eradicate viruses (Photo: Frasers Property)

Raising the benchmark

CBRE’s Sim says that even prior to Covid-19, developers in Singapore have aspired to acquire the Green Mark Platinum label awarded by the Building Construction Authority (BCA). The award is based on energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainable operation & management, indoor environmental quality and other green features. In light of Covid-19, indoor environmental quality will become even more important, he says.
The category of indoor environmental quality focuses on air quality, thermal comfort, minimising indoor air pollutants, noise level and lighting quality. “When a building has bad air circulation, it tends to suffer from ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. People start contracting illnesses and diseases when they enter the building as viruses and bacteria spread through the air vents. It is a more serious concern now with Covid-19,” adds Sim.
Sim also says that the international WELL certification, which has become the “statutory standard for sustainable buildings” globally, will become increasingly relevant. The certification is given to facilities and buildings based on 10 criteria, namely: air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.
Having a certification like the BCA Green Mark Platinum or WELL points to the availability of amenities that ensure wellness and cleanliness, and that will give confidence to visitors and internal stakeholders post-Covid-19, adds Sim.
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