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Healthy Buildings: How to Reduce the Risk of Infection in Your Buildings

Friday, July 17, 2020 By Niki Schillero

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is continuing to take prevalence in our day-to-day lives, news stations giving newly identified cases updates and handwashing techniques. While this information is important when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19, there’s not much recognition on how healthy buildings can play a very crucial role in controlling the spread of this disease, while also enhancing occupant productivity.

On average, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. With the threat of COVID-19 impending over every interaction, indoor spaces can appear full of hidden health risks.

This global pandemic that we’re all facing may be the stressor that pushes many buildings to adopt healthy practices, and those benefits could linger long after the outbreak is over. Thankfully, researchers have the necessary tools to convert buildings to healthy buildings for occupants and less hospitable for pathogens, such as COVID-19.

WHAT IS COVID-19?

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people that are infected with this virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.

As health officials continue to learn more about this virus and ways to control the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are three main ways COVID-19 can be spread:

  1. Between people who are in close contact with one another

  2. Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks (these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs).

  3. Can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

HOW HEALTHY BUILDINGS CAN REDUCE COVID-19 TRANSMISSION

As this virus continues to spread, the correlation between health and our surroundings is starting to become progressively clear. Although there’s still much that’s unknown about COVID-19, there’s preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection within your buildings. Boosting your building’s defense against disease is the next big step to make your building healthier, and safer. This means immediately implementing some key healthy building strategies.
 
At the room level, consider using portable air purifiers and looking into new technologies, such as touchless entryways, touchless lighting, automatic sinks, touchless hand dryers and automatic flushing toilets just to name a few. In addition to applying some of these new technologies, having an enhanced disinfection protocol in place is critical that clearly spells out the locations, timing, and frequency of cleaning, as well as training any cleaning staff on these new procedures that you’re putting in place.

At the building level, focusing on improving these 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building will be significant and serve as a long-term preventative measure:

  • Air Quality

  • Thermal Health

  • Moisture

  • Dust & Pests

  • Safety & Security

  • Water Quality

  • Noise

  • Lighting & Views

  • Ventilation

9Foundations-(2).jpg

Some of these improvements may be what you already anticipated, but you probably haven’t put much thought about how some of these foundations can impact occupant health and performance. Humidity levels alone in buildings can be used to fight the transmission of diseases. For example, when humidity levels are too high or too low within a building viruses can spread more easily.
 
Kristen Cooke, CLCP, says that the concept of healthy buildings has long been a contributor to customer and employee satisfaction. In the world of today and forward into the post-pandemic landscape, healthy buildings are an essential component of organizational success.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The benefits of converting your building to a healthy building can make a difference for occupant health and productivity, especially in light of the pandemic. These improvements will be beneficial long-term and can make your employees and other visitors in your building feel safer.
 
To learn about how Illumetek can help your company maintain a healthy building, contact us at 800-644-2566 or complete the contact form below.

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Illumetek is a National Program Management company facilitating installs, updates, compliance and rebates for Lighting, Electrical, and associated Controls. If you have additional questions regarding LED lighting technology or design, please feel free to contact us anytime.


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