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Four Simple Strategies Can Mitigate the Coronavirus and Boost Occupant Safety in Buildings

There is no easy button for eliminating the threat of spreading COVID-19, or other viruses, in office, retail, hospitality, healthcare, industrial or education buildings. As society learns more about COVID-19, certain truths are emerging that can significantly reduce the probability of contracting the virus within buildings by understanding four simple strategies. These four strategies provide a holistic approach toward creating safer and healthier places versus a single-solution approach.

Our firm is focused on building infrastructure systems that make buildings work. From heating and cooling to connectivity, security and sustainability, the breadth of our knowledge and application of engineering, designs and specifications for the built environment offer our clients a holistic approach – enabling them to focus on their business.

During this pandemic, we’ve engaged with our clients to explore strategies to create healthier buildings. Is MERV 16 better than MERV 13? Should we install Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) and/or Bipolar Ionization (BPI) systems? As we were learning about how COVID-19 is transmitted (remember experts provided guidance to be vigilant in cleaning surfaces and we wiped down every grocery item purchased in bulk before storing?) new information surfaced – enabling us to provide better consult to our clients based on what we know regarding the three ways the virus spreads.

Clients are often surprised when we share the four-step strategy to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and to create healthier and more transparent buildings. Raj Gupta explains the strategies in the podcast:

The ESD Two-Minute Drill | Four Strategies for Combating the Coronavirus:

The strategies are meant to be simple and memorable:

  1. If you are sick, stay home. Prevent sick people from entering the building through corporate governance and support.
  2. Social distancing and wearing masks. As Dr. Anthony Fauci recommends, maintain six feet of distance from others and wear a mask.
  3. Practice good hygiene. Wash hands often and conduct thorough cleaning daily to reduce the probability of the virus spreading through contact.
  4. Improve indoor air quality (IAQ). There are opportunities to dilute the concentration of contaminants by operating systems to increase outdoor air, upgrading filtration or integrating UVGI/BPI and other air-cleaning devices.

Before exploring strategy four, it is important to understand how any strategy developed to improve IAQ must consider a variety of building factors to attain the desired results. Actual field conditions and operating standards are a good place to start to understand options available to building owners and operators. Our team developed a rapid building wellness assessment focused on the review of existing conditions and guidance on toward high-value strategies. Many of our clients have found they already have implemented policies and have standard operating protocols that reduce the probability of spreading COVID-19 and other viruses.

Did you find this article and podcast insightful? Want to know more about the probability of spreading of the coronavirus within buildings? Listen to the Wells Riley Two-Minute Drill podcast.

Email Saagar Patel for ESD’s rapid building wellness assessment. 

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