by Michael Arny, P.E., LEED AP, Mary Reames, J.D., LEED AP (Leonardo Academy) — On par with pretty much everything these days, our article this month is different than normal. This month, rather than focusing purely on sustainability, we are focusing on health, namely the health of building occupants as they return to work.
The Covid-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented challenges for all of society, including facility managers. As businesses reopen to varying degrees, depending on location, facility managers are tasked with keeping building occupants safe from an almost invisible threat. In times of crisis, it is sound policy to turn to experts: in this case, both health experts and building-management experts. In this article, we have pulled together links to resources that should be helpful for facility managers in dealing with Covid-19 as their building’s occupants return to work. This article identifies links to information resources from five sources:
- The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
- United States Green Building Council (USGBC)
- Arc Skoru
- International Well Building Institute (IWBI)
With this list, we hope to give you a starting point for revising your operations and management policies and procedures to meet the current challenges. Use these resources to find solutions that are the best fit for you building and best compliment the policies and procedures already in place.
CDC Covid-19 Building Reopening Information Resources
The CDC provides comprehensive information on human interaction during the pandemic, including in the workplace.
CDC Covid-19: General Information
This link takes you to the CDC’s Covid-19 landing page, where you will find information and updates on Coronavirus preparedness for individuals and businesses.
CDC Covid-19: Resuming Business Toolkit
The toolkit provides strategies and checklists for employers and employees on re-entering the workplace, including a “Return Readiness Checklist.”
CDC Covid-19: COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings
This page provides information for employers on how to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.
CDC Covid-19: Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
This page provides information on how to clean and disinfect both public and private spaces, including businesses and homes, including how to disinfect various surfaces.
CDC Covid-19: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
This article provides specific information on how to disinfect a space that was used by someone who became sick.
CDC Covid-19: Water Systems- Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation: Ensure the safety of your occupants and building water system and devices
While this page does not address Covid-19 directly, it provides guidance on other impacts of a prolonged shutdown, specifically on the building’s water system, and how to address them.
ASHRAE Covid-19: Building Reopening Information Resources
The guidance provided by ASHRAE is primarily directed at how to operate an HVAC system to minimize the spread of the virus through the air handling equipment.
ASHRAE Covid-19: ASHRAE Building Readiness Guidance
https://www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/building-readiness (web) or
This in-depth guide provides detailed discussion on operating a building under epidemic conditions, including how to temporarily close and then reopen a building.
ASHRAE Covid-19: Filtration and Disinfection FAQ
This FAQ page answers specific questions on filtration and on disinfecting an HVAC system.
USGBC, LEED, and Arc Skoru: Addressing COVID-19
The USGBC has prepared new tools to help building management teams address Covid-19 in buildings and address reopening of buildings, including several pilot credits that provide guidance as well as contribute to earning LEED points.
USGBC Covid-19: USGBC Pilot Credits
The USGBC has created four new Safety First Pilot Credits to address COVID-19. These credits can be used by LEED projects that are pursuing initial certification or recertification under a LEED rating system. These credits are available to all LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 projects.
- Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space
The intent of this pilot credit is to provide effective cleaning and disinfecting relative to Covid-19, during re-occupancy and during operations while minimizing adverse health impacts on cleaning personnel, building occupants and visitors; and the environment.
- Safety First: Re-Enter Your Workspace
The intent of this credit is to promote best practice requirements in operations and human behavior to take precautions against the spread of COVID 19, by using the American Institute of Architects’ Re-occupancy Assessment Tool to create a reopening plan.
- Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning
The intent of this credit is to reduce occupant exposure risks associated with degraded water quality in community and building water systems due to stagnant or low water use that result from prolonged closure of a building.
- Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19
The intent of this credit is to promote precautionary best practices for managing air quality in buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic to minimize spread of COVID-19 through the air via the building’s ventilation system.
USGBC Covid-19: Arc Re-Entry Resources
The USGBC’s Arc performance platform also provides assessment tools to benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect occupant experiences, and track indoor air quality. The tools provide guidance on initial building assessment, operation, and re-entry for buildings, and can also be used for periodic reassessment of improvements in building performance.
International Well Building Institute
The International Well Building Institute, like USGBC, has incorporated building re-opening readiness into its rating system, the WELL Standard.
IWBI Covid-19: Strategies from the WELL Building Standard to Support in the Fight Against COVID-19
Rather than creating new credits, the Well Standard 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.”
Everyone wants life to get back to normal. With the Covid-19 pandemic still going strong, however, we need to rethink our definition of “normal,” including how we operate our buildings to keep their occupants safe and healthy. We hope that these resources will help facility managers prepare their buildings for our new normal.
Note: For additional resources, please refer to FMLink’s e-book, A Facilities Manager’s Guide to Reopening and Occupying Buildings Safely.