July 9, 2020 – As commercial property owners and tenants consider best options for bringing workers back to their sites, the U.S. Green Building Council has released safe re-entry guidelines, related LEED credits and a technology platform to assess the effectiveness of new workplace protocols.
LEED’s Safety First pilot credits cover four primary aspects of safely reopening workplaces while the COVID-19 pandemic continues: cleaning and disinfecting standards; employee re-entry practices; building water system recommissioning; and managing indoor air quality. The credits provide instructions on how to address a range of building issues, including how to ensure the water system in an idled building is free of legionella and disinfectant byproducts, a range of options to improve ventilation and air filtration (including opening windows), monitoring and containing ozone levels and cleaning products and protocols that meet both LEED and Centers for Disease Control protocols.
Arc, an affiliate of USGBC, simultaneously released a set of tools (Arc Re-Entry) that can help document and benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect and analyze relevant occupant experiences and track indoor air quality. Using Arc Re-Entry tools, facility managers can score the safety performance of a building or portfolio – information that could prove valuable to leasing agents and would-be tenants. The tools also help identify opportunities to implement LEED’s Safety First Credits and the WELL Building Standard’s Health Safety Rating.
“With millions of people around the world unemployed and the global economy in distress, we must do everything we can to support economic recovery,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC and Arc. “We don’t have to choose between public health and a healthy economy. The future will require both to thrive.”
The LEED protocols are not a final, definitive prescription for COVID-safe buildings. The guidelines stress that “there is much still unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted and what steps should be taken for indoor air quality to limit disease transmission.” Consequently, the USGBC has invited feedback on the pilot credits and related issues, and plans to update its guidance as warranted.