The US Green Building Council (USGBC) and affiliate Arc released LEED credits and software tools in recent weeks to help buildings reopen safely and sustainably from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic shutdowns, and continue to operate safely in the long term.
USGBC released four new Safety First LEED Pilot Credits in response to COVID-19 to support environmental and occupant health. The credits outline sustainable best practices that align with public health and industry guidelines related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace reoccupancy, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) and plumbing operations. The credits can be used by LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing certification.
The Safety First credits are part of USGBC’s economic recovery strategy released last month, which focuses on sustainable solutions to rebuild a stronger and healthier economy by prioritizing “healthy people in healthy places.” The credits were created in direct response to COVID-19 and focus on the safety of those working in a building. These credits are available to all LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 projects.
The Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space credit requires facilities to create a policy and implement procedures that follow green cleaning best practices that support a healthy indoor environment and worker safety. Unlike the need to develop new vaccines and medical treatments for COVID-19, current disinfectants and cleaning processes are effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, and sustainable options exist. In addition to product considerations, the credit also requires procedures and training for cleaning personnel, occupant education, and other services that are within a management team’s control.
The Safety First: Re-Enter Your Workspace credit is a tool to assess and plan for building reentry, as well as measure progress once a space is occupied. It identifies sustainable requirements in building operations and human behavior that take precautions against the spread of COVID-19. It aligns with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Re-occupancy Assessment Tool and requires transparent reporting and evaluation of decisions to encourage continuous improvement.
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The Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning credit helps building teams reduce the risk that occupants are exposed to degraded water quality. Building and business closures over weeks or months reduce water usage that can potentially lead to stagnant water and water that is unsafe to drink or use. The credit integrates recommendations from industry organizations and experts, including the US EPA and CDC. It requires buildings to develop and implement a water management plan, coordinate with local water and public health authorities, communicate water system activities and associated risks to building occupants and take steps to address water quality from the community supply, as well as the building.