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As part of its Healthy Economy strategy, USGBC’s LEED Safety First credits are a suite of credits that support project teams as they work toward reentry and safe operation. They were designed to be agile, so that we are able to make updates to their requirements as we learn more about the virus that causes COVID-19.

These LEED credits are helping building teams provide healthy spaces and assisting with building reentry. The credits outline sustainable best practices that align with public health and industry guidelines related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace reoccupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations. The credits can be used by LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing certification.

While all these measures are aimed at supporting how building design and operations can help mitigate the spread of disease, including the virus that causes COVID-19, they are also based on ensuring healthy indoor air and spaces even beyond the effects of a pandemic, and they could help frame future long-term updates to the LEED rating systems. All LEED Safety First credits can be found on usgbc.org.

 

Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space

  • The Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space credit requires facilities to create a policy and implement procedures that follow green cleaning best practices that support a healthy indoor environment and worker safety. In addition to product considerations, the credit also requires procedures and training for cleaning personnel, occupant education and other services that are within the management team’s control.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace

  • The Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace credit is a tool to assess and plan for reentry and to measure progress once the space is occupied. It identifies sustainable requirements in building operations and human behavior that take precautions against the spread of COVID-19. It aligns with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Re-occupancy Assessment Tool and requires transparent reporting and evaluation of decisions to encourage continuous improvement.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning

  • The Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning credit helps building teams reduce the risk that occupants are exposed to degraded water quality. Building and business closures over weeks or months reduce water usage, which can potentially lead to stagnant water or water that is unsafe to drink or use. The credit integrates recommendations from industry organizations and experts, including the U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control. It requires buildings to develop and implement a water management plan, coordinate with local water and public health authorities, communicate water system activities and associated risks to building occupants, and take steps to address water quality from the community supply, as well as the building.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19

  • The Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 credit builds on existing indoor air quality requirements and credits in LEED. Building teams should ensure indoor air quality systems are operating as designed and determine temporary adjustments to ventilation that may minimize the spread of disease. Requirements are based on ASHRAE core recommendations around ventilation, air filtration, inspection and maintenance, as well as on the following measures outlined in public health and industry resources.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

Safety First: Design for Indoor Air Quality and Infection Control

  • The Safety First: Design for Indoor Air Quality and Infection Control credit promotes consideration of the prevention of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air and/or other airborne diseases during the HVAC system design. Specific attention is given to ventilation and filtration.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

Safety First: Maintenance of HVAC Systems During COVID-19

  • The Safety First: Maintenance of HVAC Systems During COVID-19 credit was designed to maintain the well-being of occupants by addressing indoor air quality issues that may influence the spread of the coronavirus. This credit supports the ongoing inspection and maintenance of commercial HVAC systems based on guidance in ASHRAE Standard 180 or Table 8.2 of ASHRAE 62.1-2016 or equivalent. Guidance also addresses providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for building operators and maintenance technicians as appropriate.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

Safety First: Pandemic Planning

  • The Safety First: Pandemic Planning credit is intended to help cities and communities prepare for, control and mitigate the spread of disease during a pandemic that poses a high risk to people. The plan must include a task force representing diverse backgrounds that is responsible for evaluating possible impacts and advising decision-makers on short- and long-term challenges. It must also identify risks and vulnerabilities to health by outlining historical, geographical, epidemiological and other factors, and assess preparedness. The plan evaluates health care system readiness, domestic response, incident management, and other existing policies and procedures. Education and training for community partners and other stakeholders must also be included.
    • Available for LEED for Cities and Communities projects

 

Safety First: Social Equity in Pandemic Planning

  • The Safety First: Social Equity in Pandemic Planning credit systematically considers equity implications across all phases of the pandemic preparedness, planning and response process. The local government or development authority must have a local equity officer in place and responsible for building equity into the structure of the emergency command and response system. The plan must also convene a Pandemic Community Advisory Group to gather input on an ongoing basis, and the group must reflect the demographic and socioeconomic diversity of the city or community. Public communications, outreach and educational campaigns must also be included in order to share relevant information about the pandemic, public health and health care facilities available. Project teams are also encouraged to demonstrate how policy, procedures, infrastructure and facilities impact low-income, vulnerable or at-risk groups.
    • Available for LEED for Cities and Communities projects

 

Safety First: Arc Re-Entry

  • The Safety First: Arc Re-Entry credit helps facility teams manage the risk of infectious disease transmission of COVID-19 supports the use of a comprehensive, integrated process—covering infection control policies and procedures, documentation of alignment with relevant public health authorities, repeated occupant feedback and measurement of indoor air quality.
    • Available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1

 

The LEED Safety First pilot credits can be cited as authorities in Arc Re-Entry, which provides tools to benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect occupant experiences, and track indoor air quality.

 

Selina Holmes.

By Selina Holmes
Selina Holmes is the Vice President of LEED Marketing at the U.S. Green Building Council and champion for LEED, the most widely used green building rating system in the world. In her role, she drives marketing strategy to increase awareness and adoption of LEED and all associated products and initiatives. She holds a Master of Business Administration, from the University of Maryland, University College and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Maryland, College Park.