How Certifications Help Your Occupants Feel Safe
By Dannie DiIonno, Net Zero Advocacy Manager, BranchPattern
There seems to be an endless supply of building certifications all advertised to building owners to increase property value and help recruit tenants. Some building certifications focus on sustainability and the benefits the building can have on the planet, while others focus on health, wellness and the advantages to occupants. But amid the pandemic, many of these certification bodies started to offer new certification types specifically targeted at building re-entry. These re-entry certifications outline strategies facility managers can implement to decrease the chance of viral transmission, thereby making the building healthier for people. These initiatives improve indoor air quality and instill confidence in tenants, so tenants can return to buildings faster. Let’s explore these different re-entry certifications so you can make the best selection:
1. WELL® Health-Safety Rating
You may have seen the star-studded commercial advertising the newly developed WELL® Health-Safety Rating for public buildings to advertise they went through the proper steps to improve the air quality and cleaning standards for their spaces. It is an outward facing, recognizable seal advertising that the space is ready for re-entry! With 22 available features, teams are required to achieve 15 to certify. These include strategies within the following categories:
- Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
- Emergency Preparedness Programs
- Health Service Resources
- Air and Water Quality Management
- Stakeholder Engagement and Communication
- Cost: $4,200 for an individual building (various discounts available for bulk or small businesses)
2. LEED® Arc Re-Entry
Arc is the building performance / data collection software that analyzes five data points: energy bills, water bills, waste data, occupant satisfaction, and transportation data; the performance data produces a score which can earn the building a LEED® Operations + Maintenance Certification. The Re-Entry program utilizes the same data collection software (Arc) to evaluate and support the management of infectious disease transmission. After inputting all the required metrics via facility management surveys, occupant surveys, and data collection, a score between 0-100 is established with the following meaning:
- Comp Score = 0: The facility reports no disease control practices and procedures, occupants uniformly observe no disease control features, and no indoor air quality data are collected.
- Comp Score = 100: The facility reports on all requested disease control practices and procedures. The facility managers provide supporting documentation for each element.
- Occupants uniformly observe disease control features. Indoor air quality information is consistently collected throughout the facility.
- Cost: Free! Without any payment you can access the new re-entry software (add data and generate a Re-Entry Comprehensiveness Score) but payment is required for a 3 rd party verification.
3. Fitwel® Viral Response Module
Similar to the original Fitwel® Certification, the Viral Response Module is based on global scientific evidence to establish data driven strategies to mitigate viral transmission, build trust, and create healthy environments for all occupants. This is a two-step certification process:
- Step one is to earn a Viral Response Certification, which is more of an overview of the entire company’s policies and practices. This can be a single building, a regional portfolio, or an entire company.
- Step two, individual assets can receive Viral Response Approval, which means the individual asset fully aligns with all required policies and practices.
Cost: $500 (one-time registration fee) + $4,500 (annual Viral Response Certification fee) + $200 (per asset for Viral Response Approval)
4. RESET® Standard
The RESET® Standard did NOT come out with an updated certification specifically for building re-entry, but the certification itself is worth noting in this discussion. This Standard is a data quality standard explicitly designed for continuous monitoring sensors in the built environment. Projects may choose from one to five of the standards, with the last three still in development:
1. RESET Materials
2. RESET Air
3. RESET Water
4. RESET Energy
5. RESET Circularity
With the biggest impact on occupant health and viral transmission, RESET Air specifically monitors air quality. It is not a design standard with point minimums or specific design/operation requirements. Instead, it is a standard that monitors real-time data reported through approved air quality monitoring sensors. The sensors continuously monitor Particulate Matter, TVOC, CO2, Temperature, and Relative Humidity. This is a great tool and resource for building managers and owners to quickly identify which spaces may have above or below average measurements within the building which may indicate an increased spread of viral particles.
To choose the correct Re-Entry Certification for your building, consider why you are seeking a certification in the first place.
- Outward-facing recognition: If the public frequents your building or there are a lot of tenants, you may want to
consider advertising a recognizable plaque that demonstrates you have the public’s best interests in mind. Go for the WELL® Health-Safety Rating.
- Policies & strategies to implement: If you’re feeling a little stuck and not sure what policies to implement or strategies to consider, utilize the information available through the Fitwel® Viral Response Module or LEED® Arc Re-Entry.
- Data collection & ongoing monitoring: If you’re looking for a way to continuously monitor real-time data to evaluate how healthy your building and spaces within your building are, then consider the RESET® Air Standard.
Regardless of which certification program you choose, implementing any of the tools, strategies, and requirements included in each rating system will benefit your building occupants.
Contact Dannie DiIonno at 720.307.6008 or firstname.lastname@example.org