How the Commercial Building Community Comes Together During COVID-19

March 27, 2020

Highlights of uplifting stories and actions from the commercial building, facilities management and building owner community as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

See all COVID-19 coverage. 

The world is currently experiencing unprecedented times. It's not business as usual. We are all in this together, so we want to know: What acts of kindness or changes are you taking or seeing to keep business moving along/to help others in response to or because of COVID-19? 

We want to hear from you. Maybe a service you might otherwise charge for is now free. Or you're creating a community for people to gather and connect in this time of social distancing. 

Let us know, and your story could be part of our roundup of how the building owner and facilities management community is working together to help us all thrive. Bookmark this page, and we'll showcase some of them here. Consider it your feel-good content in a time of quickly changing news.  

Send what you are seeing or doing in 200 words or less (photos encouraged!) to [email protected]

Duro-Last Retools to Produce Medical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

As hospitals across the globe experience PPE shortages, roofing membrane manufacturer Duro-Last has retooled its production to fabricate and manufacture isolation gowns and face masks. According to the company, the product development team went from prototype to production to delivery in one week.

Gowns are made from flexible PVC to make them water- and fluid-repellant, and masks are made from polyester and PVC and are washable and reusable.

Credit: Courtesy of Duro-Last

"This is about helping health care professionals in any way we can and at the same time keeping people employed,” said Tom Saeli, CEO of Duro-Last, in a press release. “I am very proud of and impressed by the people in our company who quickly developed these products. Our country is full of tremendously smart, entrepreneurial people who can bring timely solutions to this unprecedented need. The need is real, and I believe it’s our obligation to act now. If the efforts of our team inspire just one other company to join this fight, it will be worth it."

NFPA Donates Face Masks to Local Hospital

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has donated hundreds of N95 and surgical masks to Norwood Hospital in Norwood, MA, which is about 15 miles away from the NFPA's headquarters in Quincy, MA.

"NFPA had a few hundred masks in storage from H1N1 planning efforts back in 2009. After hearing about the challenges of hospitals to keep up with demand for supplies, we pulled them out and donated them to a local hospital in our area," says Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for the NFPA. "In addition, NFPA is working hard to provide guidance on a number of fire, life and electrical safety related to COVID-19. These resources can be found at"

Greenheck Group Expedites Orders from Hospitals for Air Movement Equipment

Green Group is a manufacturer of commercial HVAC and air movement equipment, including ventilation, exhaust and damper products, which are necessary to create safe environments for healthcare workers and patients in hospitals, laboraties, surgical suites and senior care centers.

To accommodate the increasing number of COVID-19 patients, hospital across the country are in need of more isolation rooms and testing facilities. In response, Greenheck Group has received urgent orders for products.

According to the company, hospitals in California and Virginia called for Greenheck Group's Vektor and FumeJet lab exhaust equipment for new patient isolation rooms. This equipment typically requires weeks to manufacture and ship, but Greenheck expedited the orders for 10-day shipping.

A hospital in Florida converted a patient space into a COVID-19 ICU, according to Greenheck. The company's Kentucky plant manufactured a vital louver product in one day and airfreighted it to the job site.

“Our first concern is the health and safety of our team members, their families and the communities in which we operate," said Jim McIntyre, president and CEO of Greenheck Group, in a press release. "We have implemented comprehensive procedures to ensure their wellbeing and reduce the risk of infection. In addition, all equipment orders supporting healthcare receive the highest urgency.”

WAC Lighting Donates 500,000 Face Masks to U.S. Hospitals

Earlier in the year, commercial lighting company WAC Lighting ordered 500,000 Level-3 surgical masks with the intent of donating them to COVID-19 healthcare relief efforts abroad. 

As the outbreak worsens dramatically in the U.S., WAC is now shipping the masks to U.S. hospitals, primarily in the New York metrpolitan area, where PPE is in high demand.

"Our community wellbeing lies in the hands of the heroic healthcare providers among us,” said WAC president and Co-CEO Shelley Wald in a press release. "Medical personnel and first responders need all the protection and support we can muster, but we cannot do it on our own."

Wald also called on others in the community to join WAC's efforts to get supplies to healthcare professionals on the front lines. 

Tarkett Streamlines Sales of Essential Flooring Products for FEMA and Emergency Response

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial flooring company Tarkett has announced that it is streamlining sales support for FEMA contractors and other emergency response organizations, so they can receive essential flooring products for use in healthcare and government facilities. Tarkett has established a dedicated concierge line to quickly help orders get where they are needed most. 

"The pandemic has obviously impacted the construction industry in profound ways. We want our contracting and installation partners to know that we’re here for you," said Rich Padgett, account executive for government sales for Tarkett North America, in a press release. "As you work to keep our communities safe and our healthcare and government facilities responsive to changing needs, we’ll be here to provide solutions on your timeline."

Wilkhahn Creates App for At-Home Workouts

Photo: Wilkhan Office Workout App; Courtesy of Wilkhahn

German manufacturer of office furniture Wilkhahn wants clients and customers alike to get moving–from the safety of their own home, of course. The company has created the Home OfficeWorkout App to encourage users to complete simple exercises using Wilkhahn's AT, IN and ON office chair products. (Any chair is suitable, though.) The goal is to help promote movement for users and create a healthier work environment at home.  

Developed in collaboration with health professionals from physicalpark, the app is free and available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Mohawk Donates Face Shields to Local Law Enforcement, First Responders

In response to the pandemic, global flooring manufacturer Mohawk began producing face shields and medical gowns for health care proviers. This sparked an idea for Alicia Kilgore, a data management specialist for the company.

“I was thinking about one of my family members in law enforcement and how when these officers go out on calls, they don’t know if that person is sick or if they’ve been exposed to the virus–they just get dispatched to the call,” Kilgore said in a press release. “A lot of the police and fire departments are providing things like gloves, hand sanitizer and masks when they’re available, but I thought if we could donate face shields, it would give them added protection.”

Credit: Courtesy of Mohawk Group

The Mohawk Group's rug division loved the idea, and the company has since donated face shields to numerous local law enforcement agencies in Georgia, where the company is based. 

To make the face shields, Mohawk process engineer Franco Sanchez-Camarillo said in a press release that he reverse engineered the easily assembled face shield that uses elastic from the company's existing bathmat production line. The team sourced other components and then quickly learned the assembly process and began producing the shields in mass quantities. 

Currently, Mohawk is working to produce 5,000 gowns a day and 10,000 face shields a day and intends to continue donating items regularly, while providing the remainder of them to health care organizations at cost. 

"This isn’t a long-term operation for Mohawk, but we have a heart for our communities and are committed to helping while this need is so great," said Bart Hill, Mohawk Home senior vice president of product development and operations, in a press release.

Read Next: 3 Tips for Better Facility Hygiene

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