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Industry Updates

USGBC Guides The ‘First Step’ To a Healthier Future

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It seemed like only yesterday that the building and construction industry was just getting its bearings on LEED and all of its requirements. But now, thanks to COVID-19, we live in a different world, and people will have to get used to some new guidelines from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

This week, the council launched four new Safety First Pilot Credits in response to the coronavirus. The credits, which are related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace re-occupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations, can be applied to LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing the certification process.

“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,” USGBC President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam said. “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.” 

For example, the Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning credit is designed to help building teams reduce the risks from 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,” USGBC said.

This credit, the council explained, uses EPA and CDC recommendations. “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,” USGBC said.

Its Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 credit also adds to current existing indoor air quality requirements and credits. “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,” the council said. “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.”

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