At Sustain Quality we help our clients create and maintain healthy buildings. History has shown that our spaces can play a vital role in our health and wellbeing, as well as our productivity and performance.
As many of us return to our work spaces, and with the coronavirus pandemic still showing no sign of disappearing, the sustainability and health of our buildings is more important to our wellbeing than ever.
Our workplaces and the health of our buildings play a significant role in the way we work and how we choose to live, and help defend us against the rising tide of challenging climates and environments.
Taking a strategic, measured and layered approach: The hierarchy of controls
An article by Harvard Business Review (HBR) looks at the five hierarchy of controls that companies can use to impact and combat COVID-19, by weighing business effectiveness and financial measure from a range of actions.
The five hierarchy of controls are:
1) Elimination of exposure: How to safely stage the re-population of your building.
2) Substitution of activities: Evaluation of core workers needed onsite and those teams that can be isolated from others to minimise contamination.
3) Engineering controls in spaces: Cleaning processes and infection control, but also assessment and sustainable strategy implementation and changes to include the nine foundations of a healthy building. Performance based schemes such as; BREEAM, BREEAM-In Use and ESG audits (Environmental, Social and Governance).
4) Administrative controls: De-densifying your buildings and maintaining social distancing measures.
5) PPE: Personal protective equipment.
Engineering control in your spaces: nine foundations of a healthy building
As well as focusing on the health of the workforce, employers need to look at the consistent health of the building they work in. The timescale of change is usually far shorter than you’d imagine and therefore keeping close watch on this will serve more as a preventative long-term measure.
The nine foundations of a healthy building are;
- Air Quality
- Thermal health
- Dusts and Pets
- Safety and Security
- Water Quality
- Lighting and views
Looking at your building’s performance is a critical metric to track and sustain over time, as it will measure beyond the effects and obvious states of wear and tear that aren’t always visible.
Joseph G. Allen and John D. Macomber stated in their HBR article that, ‘One study of young adults found that every 1°F deviation from an optimal indoor temperature came with a 2% decrease in output. In another study, researchers found that every time you double the rate of outdoor air delivered into an office, worker performance improves by 1.7% across four simulated office tasks: text typing, addition, proofreading, and creative thinking. It’s no surprise, then, that an analysis of sick leave data for more than 3,000 workers across 40 buildings found that 57% of all sick leave was attributable to poor ventilation.
Of course, it’s not just air quality that drives health and performance. A study of workers found that they reported more headaches and worked 6.5% more slowly on a typing test when they were in an office with a pollution source. The “pollution source” in question? A dirty carpet. The amount of indoor nature and views matter, too. Young adults in an office designed following biophilic design principles had lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and better performance on short-term memory tests.
Making sure each foundation is up to par with our current healthy building standards is key to both stopping the spread of infectious disease, and setting up a successful workforce.’
Evaluation of your buildings performance and current management: BREEAM In-Use
Wherever you are on your sustainability journey, it’s important to take a step to independently and comprehensively evaluate your building’s environmental performance and current management.
As a performance-based assessment and certification scheme for commercial and residential buildings, BREEAM In-Use adheres to providing high standards of environment, social and governance (ESG) performance, with emphasis on resilience to climate change, social value and circular economy principles.
The assessment measures;
- Health and Wellbeing
- Land Use and Ecology
Such assessments offer detailed, achievable, holistic recommendations for commercial and residential builds that create clarified, actionable steps, goals and formulate timeframes with the required resources.
Offering a timeline of change benefits business with increased demonstrative leadership and visibility through environmental certification.
There is no such thing as zero-risk: It’s all in step-by-step building management, strategic and sustainable change.
Zero-risk is as we know non-existent, it’s in adapting how we operate, design and manage our buildings that will act as our framework to continue to drive sustainability and healthy buildings along with safe working and living spaces –– both now and against future risks.
In a world beyond the current pandemic, it will be in making and maintaining healthy buildings that act as a defence barrier for our workforces and communities.
The impact of COVID-19 has certainly reshaped how we view and approach the health of our buildings and that of our workforce’s health, wellbeing, performance and output, but it has also given us the opportunity to future-proof our commercial and residential premises in a forever evolving climate.
For more information on how Sustain Quality can provide you with a comprehensive ESG assessment, get in touch today.
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Our friendly team of engineers deliver sustainability and compliance solutions for developments in the commercial and residential sectors. We help organisations to maximise the environmental, social and governance (ESG) value of their buildings with a sustainability strategy that can be measured and improved over time.
Contact us at:
Sustain Quality Ltd
PO Box 393