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Thought Article: Restoring Confidence for Greater Safety.

Published 28 February 2023


UL, a leading global safety science organization, has identified four best practices for greater safety, governance, and compliance in commercial real estate buildings. These practices are crucial because modern buildings are complex, with diverse materials, and constantly evolving building codes, making it difficult to establish effective safety protocols and achieve regulatory compliance.

The top of a high-rise tower covered in plastic protective wrapping showing a large green heart with text saying 'Grenfell - Forever in our hearts'

Unfortunately, high-profile building failures, such as the tragic fire in the Grenfell Tower in London, which claimed the lives of 72 people and left over 300 homeless, and incidents in Opal Tower in Sydney and Neo200 in Melbourne, have led to a decline in trust in safety and compliance protocols.

To address this issue, real estate stakeholders can implement the four pillars identified in the Hackitt Review led by Dame Judith Hackitt. These pillars include:

  • Culture of accountability This involves creating a culture of accountability by assigning tasks, verifying actions, and ensuring that responsibilities are clear. Effective communication and tracking mechanisms are necessary to achieve this, and software solutions can be used to streamline the process.

  • Digital records/data Many commercial real estate companies lack visibility across their portfolios of buildings. Digitization of data provides visibility and decision-makers with the insight they need to identify trends, red flags, or deviations. This data includes safety inspections, warranties, tenant complaints, and observations.

  • Third-party testing and certification Third-party testing and certification can help mitigate risk in safety and performance testing of building materials, electrical components, mechanical systems, fire prevention systems, and virtually any items used in buildings.

  • Tenant-centric approach People who live, work, and play in buildings put their trust in them, making a tenant-centric approach critical. Tenants' red flags, safety concerns, or questions should not be ignored or sidelined, but rather incorporated into decision-making processes.

By implementing these four pillars, commercial real estate owners and managers can help rebuild trust in a post-Grenfell world. The average of 3.8 million fires causing 443,000 deaths globally per year, with a total loss of $858.9 billion, further emphasises the need for greater attention to safety, compliance, and governance in construction and real estate management.

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