Officials of The Cornerstone Collective have revealed a comprehensive program to provide hotel brands, owners and operators with a road map to design their properties safely, intelligently and prudently for today and the inevitable recovery from the COVID-19 virus. The proprietary Nexus Design Standards lay out specific criteria culled from across the full spectrum of expert sources, including the CDC, EPA, WELL, LEED, IBC, Fitwel, Mindful Materials and medical specialists. The program provides non-biased, research-based solutions that provide critical guidance for safe design, while allowing the ability to optimize the hotel’s uniqueness.
“A number of brands and hotel management companies have put together their own pandemic safety procedures, but no two are alike,” said Suzie Hall, founder/president, The Cornerstone Collective. “If an owner has multiple brands or owns an independent property, there is no trusted resource to assist them through what can be a costly process. The Nexus Design Standards are the first unified, all-encompassing approach that addresses all aspects of design for the ‘new normal.’ There is a lot of confusion and conflicting claims ranging from what constitutes appropriate distancing to what makes the most effective barriers. Not only do Nexus Standards include potentially life-saving advice, but they can substantially reduce costs by 15-40%. The Standards are supplier-agnostic but provide clear specifications on materials which often cost less than other options, even though the quality is similar if not superior.”
Hall has spent the last 28 years designing and advocating for how indoor environments can improve human health and well-being. With 20 completed LEED projects and dozens of healthcare assignments, she was ideally qualified to lead this initiative. “We’ve called upon our experience in designing hospital interiors, which present a higher concern for safety, as well as my current position on the Board of the St. Alphonsus Hospital Foundation. Utilizing that expertise, we worked with expert sources that form the core of the program.”
The new standards address ten key areas: Disinfectability, Cleanability, Performance, Health, Environmental, Price, Life Cycle Cost, Sustainability, Proof of Product Properties/Claims and Warranties.
“We will begin to see major failures of materials and products in existing hotels that weren’t made to withstand the rigorous cleaning protocols that have been put in place,” Hall added. “New builds must adopt the Nexus Standards to be successful in both the short- and long-term.”
The Nexus Standards began as an internal conversation among Cornerstone members. Following recent hotel visits by Hall and her team, the group quickly noticed that the most common response to guest concerns was to take a Spartan approach. “The solution for many hotels is to greatly reduce their room offerings in an effort to reduce guest safety concerns, but there is a better way,” Hall noted. “As we surveyed what hoteliers were and weren’t doing, our focus soon morphed into an industry-encompassing effort to provide best practices to all.
“Coronavirus fears put great emotional and psychological stress on the guest,” she said. “This is not the time to provide them with an unpleasant hotel experience by removing or reducing the room to not much more than a bed, a towel and a bar of soap. Hopefully, the coronavirus will be under control within one to two years or sooner. It is important to design the best safeguards, but in a way that will have long-term benefit and value to the hotel design.”