The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released four new Safety First Pilot Credits in response to COVID-19. The 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. 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.
“These new credits are a first step in helping the building and construction industry demonstrate its commitment to sustainable strategies as part of building a healthier, more resilient future,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president & CEO of USGBC. “Supporting environmental and occupant health is a critical part of supporting community health and, as we look ahead, we know LEED and the USGBC community will play a role in delivering solutions that lay a better foundation for our economic and environmental well-being.”
The Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space credit, announced last week, 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 Coronavirus, 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 re-entry, 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.
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 U.S. 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.
The Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 credit builds on existing indoor air quality requirements and credits in LEED. Building teams should ensure indoor air quality systems are operating as designed and determine temporary adjustments to ventilation that may minimize the spread of COVID-19 through the air. Additional considerations include increasing ventilation and air filtration, physical distancing of occupants and following measures outlined in public health and industry resources, as well as guidance found in the Re-Enter Your Workspace credit. The guidance also encourages monitoring and evaluating indoor air quality on an ongoing basis.
These credits are based on current, known information. USGBC will refine its recommendations and is looking for feedback on the new credits.
In addition to these new LEED pilot credits, projects can also take advantage of Arc Re-entry, a set of resources launching June 10 to help facility teams assess and communicate recovery efforts, as well as the WELL Health-Safety Rating. GBCI will be providing third party certification support for the WELL Health-Safety Rating.
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