The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a new focus on how health and wellness issues can be proactively addressed through building design and green construction techniques.
Designers have to consider how viruses can be transmitted and how the danger can be mitigated. Research on how airborne particles can be circulated in HVAC systems leads to more discussion about proper system design and filtration and the importance of introducing clean outdoor air in the facility.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green construction certification already focuses on creating healthy built environments for occupants. It is an excellent pathway for addressing wellness issues for building occupants. But with LEED v4.1 still expected to be ratified in 2020, builders need to do their homework now to keep up with proposed changes to the rating system.
1. Better Cooperation
The first tip for reducing the difficultly of reaching LEED certification is to bring the builders to the table early in the processes. By having input into the design, they can help set realistic expectations for the owners, keep the project from going over budget, and confirm that all building materials are LEED compliant.
2. Safer Construction Environments
Creating a safer, non-polluted environment begins by implementing the right processes on the jobsite as part of an indoor air quality management plan. All it takes is the use of some common-sense best practice on the construction site to keep pollutants from being introduced into the building at the beginning of the project.
- Keep the jobsite clean minimizes debris and dust.
- HVAC equipment should be protected from moisture by keeping materials that could absorb water away from air intakes.
- Prevent pollutants from being introduced into finished areas by partitioning off sections of the building that are under construction.
- Prohibit smoking on the jobsite and inside the building.
3. Pay Attention to the Details
The most cost-effective ways for builders to make progress on LEED certification involve quality control and basic craftsmanship. Address any air infiltration issues by taking the time to properly tape off seams or seal the holes in plywood. Fill in any gaps around windows. For the cost of a can of spray foam or a tube of caulk, the energy efficiency of a space can be boosted from the start.
Always use environmentally safe products and materials, certified under LEED, that are free from unhealthy volatile organic compounds, and practice preventative maintenance. Protecting building materials from rain or moisture will help protect the space from mold issues in the future.
4. Importance of Record-Keeping
In the end, to properly manage the LEED certification process, builders have to make sure their record-keeping is as solid as their craftsmanship. No matter how good the craftsmanship or how awesome the design, a project will never be certified if it lacks the proper documentation of the materials and processes used during construction.
Simply trying to recreate the documentation at the completion of a project is a recipe for failure. Keeping on top of record-keeping requires consistency. Having a proper system in place for documenting processes and tracking materials used through photos and photos can minimize the busy work required.
The purpose of LEED certification is simple: It’s a mechanism for creating the best and healthiest built environments for occupants. With a little planning and a commitment to doing the right thing, builders will put themselves on the path to successfully reaching certification. So, get out there and do your homework, research the healthiest options, and make the world a little better with each project you complete.