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How Building Design and Efficiency Can Support Public Health

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a popular and highly accredited green building rating system. Due to COVID-19, the U.S. Green Building Council has announced several changes to the popular rating system that will allow for it to adapt to the ever-changing energy industry.

“The world we return to might look nothing like the one we’ve left behind,” wrote President and CEO of USGBC, Mahesh Ramanujam, in his announcement. “But what lies ahead is also a responsibility for us to design a more resilient future. It’s a chance for us to gather under the common banner of humanity and champion a better-quality life for millions of people around the world.”

The second generation of LEED certifications aim to prioritize health while addressing issues such as how to build a more sustainable future and how to remain resilient against future threats to global health. The immediate steps include:

· Making a series of upgrades to LEED v4.1 that will be available later this year

· Releasing new LEED pilot credits to support social distancing, nontoxic surface cleaning, air quality and infection monitoring

· Launching a call for ideas to find new ways to evolve LEED

· Creating CEO advisory councils to support the CEO and adapt programs moving forward

· Launching the USGBC Equity program to address social, health, and economic disparities within their communities

· Adapting their LEED review process to incorporate lessons learned from COVID-19

· Publishing a series of reports to offer specific guidance on best practices for reentering their spaces

The goal of LEED Certified buildings is to create spaces that bring about a healthier standard of living while stimulating the economy, according to USGBC. In addition to the items outlined above, LEED is taking further action by inviting recommendations for regional working groups across the world, leveraging performance credits that focus on improving occupant satisfaction and comfort, investing in better materials, focusing on advocacy and policy, conducting research to support their new mission, and bringing the community together to celebrate their progress at Greenbuild.

LEED is not the only system to reshape their priorities due to COVID-19. The WELL Building Standard believes their strategies can provide the framework for organizations to respond to the current pandemic and prepare for a healthier future. The group created a document to identify strategies from the WELL Building Standard v2 that reflect how organizations can remain resilient. Their key themes include promoting clean contact, improving air quality, maintaining water quality, managing risk and creating organizational resilience, supporting movement and comfort, strengthening immune systems, fostering mental resilience, and championing community resilience and recovery. Some of their action items for these themes include:

· Enhancing ventilation and air filtration

· Meeting performance thresholds for water contaminants

· Prioritizing emergency preparedness and family support

· Implementing ergonomic design and education

· Providing mental health support and access to essential health services

· Providing stress support and mental health education

· Encouraging civic engagement and community access

Buildings and communities have a unique role to play in supporting the health and safety of their occupants. Utilizing energy efficiency and sustainable design may help us prepare and respond to current and future global health challenges. To learn more about how you can get started by prioritizing energy efficiency, contact our team at 312-265-3971 or


Strategies from the WELL Building Standard to Support in the Fight Against COVID-19. (2020, May 14). Retrieved June 5, 2020, from

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