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Soon Your Building Might Have A COVID-19 Safety Rating

The International WELL Building Institute has launched a new standard to rate how well a building protects its occupants from the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

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Dubbed the WELL Health-Safety Rating, it can be used to rate most property types, including offices, retail, restaurants, schools and hotels, as people begin to return to work and otherwise go out again. The standard will also examine building sanitation, which in a post-pandemic context includes cleaning and touchless surfaces, water quality, waste disposal and other factors.

In the case of buildings with permanent occupants, the standard will also look at corporate culture. Namely, whether an occupant company actually encourages sick workers to stay home, The Real Deal reports.

The certification will depend on third-party verification. Properties will not be offered different levels of certification under the WELL Health-Safety Rating, but will either meet the standard as a whole or not.

The International WELL Building Institute rolled out its original system for building standards in 2016, which concerns itself with over 100 aspects of the built environment that affect human health, and (like LEED) has levels: silver, gold and platinum. Current WELL-registered projects can meet the new standard as part of their already established certification efforts.

For its part, LEED has unveiled a pilot program to provide guidance on cleaning buildings in a way that not only meets sustainable standards but also guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for dealing with COVID-19.

“One benefit of this program is to show that the professional cleaning industry can stop the spread of COVID-19 without resorting to conventional cleaning products that can harm the environment,” Ashkin Group President Stephen Ashkin, who helped develop the program, told Rental Pulse.

As states reopen, the number of guidelines for doing so have proliferated. Most recently, the Real Estate Board of New York, in coalition with a number of business and labor union groups, crafted guidelines for the re-entry of commercial office buildings in New York, which cover cleaning, systems maintenance, social distancing and hygiene.