Using LEED as a framework for a safe, successful and sustained re-entry plan

Sarah Alexander

LEED Safety First credits bring credibility, trust and confidence

With the long awaited rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, nations, states, cities and communities of all sizes are looking to reopen their economies while ensuring the safety of citizens rapidly. Discussions about returning to the workplace and resuming daily life are quickly moving from the hypothetical to reality. However, how we look at the buildings and infrastructure around us will never be the same. One of the significant lessons that we learned during the pandemic is that buildings can either promote sustainability, health and wellness, resilience and equity – or be one of the biggest factors working against them. We must never take for granted the role buildings play in the protection and safety of people, and we must put in place trusted data-backed frameworks to ensure that our infrastructure is prepared for future global challenges.

The good news is that we have the data-based tools we need for a safe, successful and sustained re-entry.

Building a framework of trust: Implementing the LEED Safety First Credits

Enter the LEED Safety First Pilot Credits. Developed in response to the pandemic, these 9 credits align with public health guidelines and outline sustainable best practices related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace re-occupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations, building water-system recommissioning and pandemic preparedness and response. They are available for all LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 projects that are already certified and those undergoing certification. If your project is already certified and you wish to pursue one of the Safety First credits, please contact GBCI to learn more.

The Safety First pilot credits can be viewed here. You can gain deeper knowledge and expertise in the pilot credits by taking four education courses designed specifically for these credits. The first six credits can be used by building projects that are LEED certified or are undergoing certification, the next two credits are available for LEED for Cities and Communities projects, and the last credit (Arc RE-Entry) provides tools for existing buildings to benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect occupant experiences, and track indoor air quality. And as with LEED v4.1, the credits will continue to be updated to reflect the latest public health developments and interpretations.

Leadership by example: LEED Safety First Credits making a difference around the globe

Powered by the global recognition of LEED, the 9 LEED Safety First pilot credits have achieved promising uptake. In just under a year, GBCI has awarded Safety First pilot credits to over 60 projects, and a further 350+ projects around the world are pursuing these credits. These projects tell a powerful story by relying on these data and trusted frameworks to encourage a safe reentry that gives occupants confidence in the places and spaces around them and helps rebuild their local economies. GBCI aspires that every project worldwide will take advantage of these frameworks to protect their occupants in a post pandemic world.

For example, the LEED Gold Bank of America Plaza, an existing building recertification project in Dallas owned by Metropolis Investment Holdings, was one of the first companies to embrace our Health Economy Strategy by pursuing a LEED Safety-First credit as one component of their BeWell promise. The Bank of America Plaza was awarded the Safety First Cleaning and Disinfecting Credit, validating that it is using janitorial best practices throughout the Plaza. Other properties owned by Metropolis that received Safety-First credits include NBC Tower in Chicago, Pennzoil Place in Houston and One Liberty Place in Houston, and their 345 California property in San Francisco also received a Safety First credit as part of its recent Platinum re-certification.

The Chelsea at Greenburgh, a 90,000 square foot new construction senior living community in West Chester County, New York, achieved LEED certification in early 2021 and incorporated the Safety First Cleaning and Disinfecting Cleaning Credit to ensure that best practices were put into place to protect its residents and staff alike. 

Let’s work together to ensure the full-scale implementation of our shared vision - healthy people in healthy places equals a healthy economy.

If you are a project that has implemented the LEED Safety First Credits and would like to sharing your experience and story with us, please reach out to Sarah Merricks, Chief of Staff at GBCI.


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