Buildings + COVID-19: 7 Techniques for Facility Optimization

Copy of COVID Resource Page

As COVID-19 forces us to re-think our “new normal”  the connection between our health and the built environment is a critical piece of reducing the viral spread.

The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan has developed this short-list of best practices and is providing answers to frequently asked questions weekly via our Healthy Building Webinar Series with industry experts:

1. Educate staff and visitors

A clear policy and communication is the key to compliance. Post educational signage and train all staff. A team approach to developing new procedures will increase awareness and lead to successful implementation.

2. Follow manufacturer recommendations

Follow manufacturer recommendations for CDC approved sanitation products. Strengthen cleaning protocols and schedules that meet the demands of the current situation. Pay special attention to high traffic areas like bathrooms, elevators, and common spaces. Click here to view our recent webinar on sanitizing high-touch surfaces and find additional resources on our COVID-19 webpage.

3. Personal hygiene

Health officials recommend washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times per day. Consider adding hand sanitizing stations where hand washing is not readily available.

4. Increased building ventilation

Consider Increasing your ventilation ratios with outside air to decrease disease transmission risks, flush your building before occupants return, open windows, and use passive airflow. Learn more about balancing energy and ventilation here.

5. Maintain optimal humidity

Evidence suggests that viruses survive better in low-humidity environments. Buildings can increase humidity to maintain an optimal range of 40 to 60%. If humidification isn’t a component of your current HVAC system consider adding portable humidifiers to your space.

6. Indoor air filtration

All filters are not created equal. Understanding MERV ratings and what your current HVAC system is designed for is a critical balance. HEPA filters cannot be a substitute for MERV-rated filters due to pressure variations and possible air flow constrictions. One consideration is to purchase portable HEPA filtration units that can be placed in designation locations. Find more information on optimized air filtration here.

7. Wear face masks within closed corridors

Studies conducted by the CDC have found the coronavirus to be spread between people interacting in close proximity. That is why the organization recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing practices are hard to maintain. The State of Michigan’s latest stay at home order requires the public to wear face masks in closed corridors. Learn more about face masks here.

As a nonprofit organization committed to healthy building construction and operation for more than a decade, the USGBC of West Michigan will continue to provide guidance and best practices for building owners and operators. Join our weekly newsletter to stay connected and informed.