These are uncertain times and our regular feelings of security in the workplace are in question. As more offices open back up, there is still much hesitation about how that will look and how safe it will feel. Leaders of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and the Center for Active Design (CfAD) keep health of the planet and its people at the forefront of their minds. and have developed resources that can give you the peace of mind that you're doing the best you can to give your team a safe environment.
WELL is a research and evidence backed standard and widely regarded to effectively measure the total ecosystem of a building or community and its impact on the health of the people in it. In response to coronavirus, IWBI has "identified and grouped select, applicable strategies from the WELL Building Standard v2 pilot (WELL v2) around key themes that reflect how organizations can approach prevention and preparedness, resilience and recovery in relation to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, from enhancing air quality to supporting mental health." (WELL)
The key themes within their COVID strategies are:
Promote clean contact via hand washing and cleaning protocols.
Improve air quality by assessing and addressing issues related to ventilation, humidity, and air filtration.
Maintain water quality with awareness of contaminate levels.
Manage risk and create organizational resilience through occupant surveys and emergency preparedness.
Support movement and comfort, including work from home, by providing ergonomic options.
Strengthen immune systems by providing health services for both the body and mind.
Foster mental resilience by providing mental health resources and access to proven natural options to reduce stress such as meditation spaces or gardens.
Champion community resilience and recovery by finding options to source locally and bring communities together safely.
WELL is also providing advisory for both sports and entertainment venues and hotels and resorts, both of which will need to make major adjustments to their environments to ensure the safety of those within them.
Speaking of sports venues, just last week the Cleveland Cavaliers announced they will pursue the WELL Health-Safety Rating, a stand-alone certification focused on a subset of the WELL criteria and preconditions. Stay tuned - we will highlight this certification opportunity in an upcoming blog.
The Center for Active Design (CfAD), that administers the Fitwel standard, has also launched an evolving set of guidance in response to the COVID crisis. Their strategies will continue to evolve as new science is discovered about the disease.
Their strategies to date include:
Mitigate viral transmission by limiting physical interactions, increasing hand washing and regular cleaning, increasing ventilation, improving filtration, and increasing humidity.
Build trust in the workplace by enhancing the perception of safety via emergency preparedness and communications.
Address mental health within residential settings to promote feelings of well-being. Strategies include greenery inside and out, outdoor recreation spaces, indoor air quality, protected sleep environments, and health and wellness programming.
Increase comfort in dense neighborhoods by focusing on how density can enhance resilience and protect public health by concentrating on decreasing energy use, increasing walkability and bikeability, optimizing outdoor spaces, increasing access to nature, and enhancing communication.
Address health disparities in the built environment including healthcare access, food access, housing quality, and job roles, among others.
USGBC has four new LEED pilot credits to help building teams provide healthy spaces, and to assist with re-entry. These credits outline sustainable best practices that align with public health and industry guidelines related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace re-occupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations and can be used by LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing certification as innovation credits.
Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space credit addresses protocols for cleaning best practices and proper product usage.
Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace credit is a tool that assesses plans for returning to work and measures progress once the space is occupied.
Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning credit aids building teams in reducing the risk of exposure to degraded water quality, especially since many of these buildings have been closed for some time.
Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 credit ensures indoor air quality systems are operating as designed and prescribes temporary adjustments to ventilation and filtration that may minimize the spread of COVID-19 through the air.
Our team has the expertise to help you assess your built environment to support and promote the ongoing health of the people on your team. Let us help you evaluate your readiness to reopen with confidence.