COVID-19 has changed everything. That has been the general feeling for many companies over the past 18 months. Whether you are a building product manufacturer, AEC firm, or real estate company, the pandemic has changed the ways people work and live. How can we prepare for the next pandemic and how can we recover from its effects?
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) published a new guide to provide a blueprint of actionable, evidence-based strategies to combat pandemics and recover from them. The guide Prevention + Preparedness + Resilience + Recovery is available for free. The guide was created from the input of nearly six hundred professionals. The guide contains a series of actions for different spaces. These actions include:
- Translating Research to Practice – Stewarding the complicated process of translating research to real-world practice, guidance and standards.
- Deploying Strategies for Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery – Providing actionable insights and solutions for organizations and communities responding to COVID-19 now and other acute health threats in the future.
- Reimagining the Policy Framework– Setting a new bar for policy, one that integrates human health into building and organizational outcomes and prioritizes health equity.
- Investing for Health– Ensuring health plays a key role in how companies and shareholders assess where to invest while also driving structural change across the investment and ESG landscapes.
In addition, all the actions are integrated with equity, education, and evidence. IWBI has stated that better indoor air quality should apply to everyone. Education has changed from in-person to online and we must adapt to evolving challenges. Facts matter and our actions should be based on scientific research.
The guide uses a question-and-answer approach with professionals from various fields to discuss a myriad of topics. The evidence presented is culled from surveys, indoor environmental testing, and other research methods. The guide discusses impact topics that relate to buildings and occupants. Some of the impacts include:
- Air Quality – While the negative health impacts of air pollution are well known and the negative health and performance impacts of poor indoor air quality are emerging, infectious airborne diseases such as COVID-19 both heighten and complicate research and practice.
- Movement – The link between physical inactivity and health outcomes is well-known, and planners and designers have worked for years to design our communities and our buildings to encourage more movement throughout the day.
- Performance – Performance has consistently been a point of interest as an outcome for building design research, especially for the workplace.
- Mental Health – Stress has been shown to be a top workforce risk factor, and the known risks between long-term stress, poor mental health and reduced immunity have elevated stress and mental health as a key factor in resilience and COVID-19.
The Guide notes that, “what has emerged from research and practice to date on COVID-19 is that an interdisciplinary approach that considers both risk reduction and health promotion and that builds upon existing research is the most effective in facilitating the funding of timely research and helping reduce key disciplinary gaps.”
The in-depth guide is recommended for any company wanting to use the right tools and solutions to help deliver better buildings for all. As we strive to meet the challenge to deploy our buildings in the fight against COVID-19, we know that tomorrow and beyond, buildings will continue to be at the forefront of ushering in this new paradigm of health. Only together will we grow our global movement and achieve our mission of market transformation that helps everyone, everywhere realize their healthiest, best lives.