St. John Properties, Inc. Debuts Innovative Indoor Air Purification Strategy Designed to Improve Air Quality

St. John Properties, Inc. has initiated an innovative program to initially outfit nearly 2.4 million square feet of its commercial office portfolio in central Maryland with a UV Whole Building Air Purification process designed to significantly improve indoor air quality and reduce the spread of illnesses carried by airborne contaminants. Nine St. John Properties buildings comprising more than one million square feet of space have been equipped with the system, and plans call for similar upgrades at an additional 14 buildings throughout Maryland in the immediate future.

The UV Whole Building Air Purification process is a multi-step strategy that features the installation of UV-C light disinfecting systems designed to eliminate airborne pathogens such as fungal spores, bacteria and various virus strains that can pass through a building’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The process involves replacing existing HVAC air filters with higher-efficiency models that capture more airborne particles that could spread disease; upgrades coil cleaning and HVAC system sanitation, resulting in increased air flow; and longer HVAC runtimes, allowing for more frequent fresh air circulation throughout a building. The process is designed to completely recirculate interior air up to seven times per hour while continuously disinfecting, filtering and reintroducing fresh air throughout the day.

A recent American Journal of Infection Control study determined that UV-C light is effective in killing a significant percentage of the COVID-19 virus. According to this study, exposure to UV-C light completely inactivated the virus in nine minutes. The U. S. Food & Drug Administration stated that “UV-C radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water and nonporous surfaces… (and) has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria.” The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have also issued guidance recommending the use of ultraviolet light to mitigate the risk from airborne contaminants.

“The health and safety of our clients and staff continues to be our top priority, and we recognize that indoor air quality is now front of mind for many,” explained Bill McFaul, Senior Vice President of Property Management. “We were compelled to implement innovative air purification measures, a strategy that mirrors our leadership role in developing LEED-certified, sustainable commercial buildings.”

Since starting its LEED program in 2009, St. John Properties has developed more than five million square feet of LEED Gold, Silver or Certified space, encompassing more than 80 buildings, based on guidelines issued by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). A key St. John mission is to develop sustainable buildings constructed with materials that contribute to an eco-friendly environment, and to maintain indoor environments that promote employee wellness and conserve energy and resources. Last year St. John Properties was recognized by the Maryland Chapter of USGBC with the “Community Change Agent” award for outstanding efforts in designing and constructing healthy buildings and for the company’s overall impact and leadership in the LEED movement.

Over the past four months, St. John Properties has also upgraded more than 10,000 lighting fixtures throughout its portfolio with Light-Emitting Diode (LED) equipment that provide significantly lower energy consumption, improved lifetimes and associated resource savings. The company plans to continue their lighting upgrade program across vacant suites in its Maryland portfolio.

“As we continue our UV-C HVAC strategy rollout, it is important to emphasize the air quality measures that exist within the majority of buildings designed and constructed over the last 10 years, based on our ongoing commitment to follow LEED guidelines,” explained Ryan Schwabenbauer, St. John Properties’ Director of Sustainability. “According to the USGBC, the use of low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint, carpeting, wall coverings and adhesives significantly reduces off-gassing. This contributes to higher-quality indoor air, which in turn leads to healthier employees, higher productivity, and reduced absenteeism. Because we are committed to providing the best possible environment for our clients, our team continues to monitor advances in equipment and processes that contribute to improved indoor air quality.”

St. John Properties’ UV Whole Building Air Purification rollout will continue this year at Class ‘A’ multi-story office buildings throughout the firm’s central Maryland portfolio in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City.

Founded in 1971 and headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, St. John Properties, Inc. is one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest privately held commercial real estate firms. The company is distinguished by its commitment to customer service, achievements in green building, and top-rated workplace culture. Throughout St. John Properties’ 50-year history, the company has developed more than 21 million square feet of flex/R&D, Office, Retail and Warehouse space serving more than 2,500 clients in Maryland, Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Utah and Wisconsin. For more information about the company, visit www.sjpi.com.

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