The crucial role that buildings play in supporting people’s health gains even more importance after Covid-19 exposed communities worldwide to unprecedented risks. How is the industry responding to the pandemic, and what can we do to prepare our indoor spaces for re-entry post-Covid-19?
The year when being indoor became unsafe
On New Year’s Eve 2019, when humanity was getting ready to welcome the new year, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported atypical ‘viral pneumonia’ cases to the WHO’s Country Office.
Ten days later, the Chinese authorities determined that a novel coronavirus was responsible for the outbreak. Then, it all spiralled down, and in early March 2020, the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic and called for countries to take urgent action.
In a few weeks, governments worldwide announced unprecedented measures to limit the spread of the virus, with the UK entering its first lockdown on March 26. Restaurants, schools, offices, shops and all kinds of facilities closed across and are now struggling to re-open.
More than one year after the first lockdown, we still feel unsafe when indoor with other people.
Besides exposing the fragility of our systems, Covid-19 highlighted a brutal truth: the spaces we live in are not as safe as we thought. High-touch surfaces, poor indoor air quality, and inadequate social distancing may help spread viruses and diseases. In the wake of the pandemic, organisations at the forefront for advancing health in buildings developed a response to the virus, such as the WELL Health-Safety Rating and the Fitwel Viral Response module.
WELL Health-Safety Rating
In March 2020, the organisation that oversees the WELL Building Standard established a task force to inform on a response to Covid-19. The outcome of its research is the WELL Health-Safety Rating, an evidence-based rating for building owners and operators that focuses on reducing the transmission of viruses and health-related issues.
The rating spawns from a subset of the WELL Building Standard‘s features, adapted for building operations and management. It applies to all types of facilities, including offices, retail, education, hotels, entertainment venues, industrial, multi-family residential and more.
Large and small organisations alike can achieve it by pursuing operational policies, maintenance protocols and emergency plans divided into 21 features across five core areas:
Cleaning and sanitisation procedures
Emergency preparedness programs
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Health service resources
Air and water quality management