Healthy people in healthy places: The main focus in the new normal, post-COVID-19

[] We get an expert’s opinion on how green buildings are likely to gain preference, following the Coronavirus outbreak and the advantages that they offer, in the current scenario

This year’s COVID-19 pandemic, will create a long-lasting impact on the economy, on people and on our way of life. As governments attempt to lift lockdowns across the world, we must prepare for the fact that this new world may look completely different than what we have left behind. Stay at home orders and travel restrictions, have highlighted the vital importance of healthy, efficient and sustainable indoor spaces that cater to the well-being of our families and world. As we face this next phase of the pandemic together, we have a chance to ensure that our buildings’ health is a top priority.

You are reading: Healthy people in healthy places: The main focus in the new normal, post-COVID-19

Healthy people in healthy places: The main focus in the new normal, post-COVID-19

[] Impact of Coronavirus on Indian real estate

Economic toll of the Coronavirus pandemic

While we strive to recover from this health crisis, the ensuing financial strain, is also taking its toll. According to the International Monetary Fund, the global economy will witness a 3% drop this year – the most dramatic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Fifty per cent of the world’s population already lives below the poverty line and they are the ones who will be most affected by this change. The solutions to these problems, will require long-term resilience and creativity, to overcome.

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In order to successfully move into the next phase, we must prioritise our efforts to build people’s trust that their homes and buildings are healthy and have a positive impact, not only on them but the economy at large. This requires efforts from the teams responsible for those spaces – not just as a temporary response to this moment but as we build for a future that may look markedly different from what we have known.

Importance of green buildings in a post-COVID-19 world

One of the most powerful ways to accomplish this, is through green buildings, which incorporate fundamental changes in a building’s structure and day-to-day operations, to create a more efficient, healthy and sustainable space that does less harm to the planet while improving the well-being of its occupants. Green building practices improve energy and water efficiency, reduce waste and carbon emissions and improve human experience through higher air quality, natural lighting and a focus on health. India is already the world’s fourth-largest market for green buildings and has seen an upturn in its residential use over the past few years. As it increases in popularity, green certification programs are also seeing an uptick in usage, as a way to signal a building’s dedication to safety.

[] Why green buildings make sense in times of COVID-19

In fact, green building certification programs had already begun to make the health and safety of occupants their primary focus before the Coronavirus pandemic. We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors. Research has proven that some of the key components of green buildings – cleaner air, better air circulation and access to natural lighting – have a direct improvement on the health of its occupants. By keeping our spaces performing at their best, the time we spend indoors can have a direct, positive influence on our health and on public health at large.

Demand for green building certification to increase

Certification will be key, for rebuilding confidence among occupants in larger spaces like apartment buildings and offices. By achieving the standards set by a trusted and verified source, spaces publicly declare that they are putting the health and safety of its occupants first. Certification also provides both, the language and data, needed to communicate these steps. Green building certification in particular, can help builders and developers incorporate safety features into their buildings, prepare for a post-COVID-19 world, achieve important standards for re-entry and ultimately, support the global economic recovery effort.

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In the years to come, we are likely to see a renewed interest from spaces, towards achieving green building certification as a way of communicating the health of their space to occupants and companies will need to be more proactive than ever before, to uphold these standards.

Public health and a thriving economy are not only compatible but symbiotic. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USGBC is working towards a long-term vision: Healthy people in healthy places is the fastest way to build a healthy economy. This strategy includes the new LEED Safety First Pilot Credits, which outline sustainable best practices that align with leading public health and industry guidelines. Arc Re-Entry provides tools to benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect occupant experiences and track indoor air quality within a workplace. It can be used for free, as a standalone resource, or as a stepping-stone for the LEED pilot credits.

Our homes have become more important than ever before and we are seeing that same attention shift toward our other spaces, as the world reopens. Just as we took precautions within our homes, we must now amplify those efforts toward larger venues. Through certification and due diligence, we can begin to work towards a new normal – one that is safe, healthy and thriving.

(The writer is president and CEO of USGBC and GBCI)

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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