COVID resources

Managing buildings during COVID-19

Experts across the world are developing resources for businesses and facilities teams to assist in managing buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing extraordinary support from all areas of the green building community including the sharing of best practices, creation of education content, and new support services.

Recovery

USGBC launched a global economic recovery strategy
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Questions

We've answered COVID-related questions from customers
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Online digital events

Staying connected with online digital events
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Legislation

Federal legislation has been passed to assist businesses
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Credentials

LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams now available online
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Certification

GBCI has adapted the certification review process
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USGBC COVID scene 1

LEED Safety First pilot credits

As part of its Healthy Economy strategy, USGBC has seven LEED pilot credits to help building teams provide healthy spaces, and to assist with re-entry. The pilot 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. Hear experts discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect LEED and future credit decisions.

Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space credit
  • 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. Although vaccines and medical treatments are still in development for treating COVID-19, effective disinfecting products and processes already exist. In addition to product considerations, the credit also requires procedures and training for cleaning personnel, occupant education and other services that are within the management team’s control.
Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace credit
  • The Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace credit is a tool to assess and plan for re-entry as well as to measure progress once the 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.
Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning credit
  • 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, which can potentially lead to stagnant water or water that is unsafe to drink or use. The credit integrates recommendations from industry organizations and experts, including the U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control. 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.
Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 credit
  • 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 and physical distancing of occupants and following measures outlined in public health and industry resources. The guidance also encourages monitoring and evaluating indoor air quality on an ongoing basis.
Safety First: Pandemic Planning credit
  • The Safety First: Pandemic Planning credit is intended to help cities and communities prepare for, control and mitigate the spread of disease during a pandemic that poses a high risk to people. The plan must include a task force representing diverse backgrounds that is responsible for evaluating possible impacts and advising decision makers on short- and long-term challenges. It must also identify risks and vulnerabilities to health by outlining historical, geographical, epidemiological and other factors, and assess preparedness. The plan evaluates healthcare system readiness, domestic response, incident management and other existing policies and procedures. Education and training for community partners and other stakeholders must also be included.
    • Available for LEED for Cities and Communities projects
Safety First: Social Equity in Pandemic Planning credit
  • The Safety First: Social Equity in Pandemic Planning credit systematically considers equity implications across all phases of the pandemic preparedness, planning and response process. The local government or development authority must have a local equity officer in place and responsible for building equity into the structure of the emergency command and response system. The plan must also convene a Pandemic Community Advisory Group to gather input on an on-going basis and the group must reflect the demographic and socio-economic diversity of the city or community. Public communications, outreach and educational campaigns must also be included in order to share relevant information about the pandemic, public health and health care facilities available. Project teams are also encouraged to demonstrate how policy, procedures, infrastructure and facilities impact low income, vulnerable or at-risk groups.
    • Available for LEED for Cities and Communities projects
Safety First: Arc Re-Entry credit
  • For those who own or manage buildings, the biggest question when it comes to reoccupying spaces is preparedness. The Safety First: Arc Re-Entry credit helps facility teams manage the risk of infectious disease transmission of COVID-19 supports the use of a comprehensive, integrated process (covering infection control policies and procedures, documentation of alignment with relevant public health authorities, repeated occupant feedback, and measurement of indoor air quality).

The LEED Safety First pilot credits can be cited as authorities in Arc Re-Entry, which provides tools to benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect occupant experiences, and track indoor air quality.

USGBC COVID scene 2

Design and construction

Constructing buildings during COVID-19 poses additional challenges for the construction industry. Green buildings feature opportunities for creating more equitable, healthier, and supportive environments for construction workers, and in many locations, construction workers are considered essential.

Resources related to worker exposure to COVID-19
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Facilities management and operations

As more information is available on the transmission of the virus, including unknowns around airborne transmission, we expect to expand and refine the resources on this page with the best ways take precautionary measures in managing buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Re-occupy your building
Managing HVAC systems

Explore guidance from HVAC organizations or examples of items to consider, but keep in mind buildings vary widely, use engineering best judgement to ensure a recommendation is appropriate for the specific building, location, and season.

Managing indoor air quality
Managing water systems
Energy efficiency
Planning and emergency preparedness
Additional resources

Sector-specific resources

Resources for re-opening K12 schools

Safely opening up PreK-12 schools will be vital to getting the U.S. economy running at full speed, and federal agencies and NGOs are working on guidance to help school leaders understand how to plan for re-opening school facilities. Each set of guidelines reflects the expertise and perspective of the authoring organization, so below we summarize major elements of those that focus on the intersection of facilities and health.

  • CDC Guidance and Tools for Reopening: Foundational guidance for schools and school districts upon which most other guidance is built. The tools include a checklist for school administrators who may be planning for in-person instruction, including how to plan for if someone gets sick or shows symptoms at school. Also consult the guidance on cleaning and disinfecting schools from the EPA and CDC.
  • Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemicfrom the National Academies of Science: A review of the scientific consensus related to aspects of opening school buildings. A notable resource in the appendix is a summary table of mitigation strategies, their role, and considerations for implementing them.
  • Reopening of Schools & Universities from ASHRAE: Series of detailed checklists for school operations staff to use to design and operate HVAC systems to best protect occupant health.
  • Schools for Health: Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Comprehensive guidance that covers various considerations for reopening school buildings from an infection control perspective. A notable addition beyond other organizations' guidance is a section on healthy activities, including tips for maintaining recess, enrichment classes, and free time.
  • National Action Plan from the Coalition for Healthier Schools: Recommendations for safely operating schools during the pandemic, with an occupational health and safety lens. The guidance includes a sample School Infection Prevention and Control Plan along with green cleaning guidance and other gathered resources.
  • Planning for the Next Normal at School playbook: A collection of recommendations, co-authored by Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Action for Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools Campaign, and SHAPE America. Among other considerations, the playbook gives concrete recommendations for addressing mental health and well-being not found in many other planning documents.
  • COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Reentry from American Academy of Pediatrics: Focused on childhood health, this guidance pushes for school reopening for the sake of students' overall health and well-being. The document has proven controversial with those who consider the community impacts of COVID-19 to be more of a threat to children's health than the Academy believes them to be.
  • Planning Tools for States and Schools from National Council on School Facilities: This resource page includes links to state-by-state guidance, as well as planning documents for school systems to download and use to assess their needs and plan for reopening.

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