The connection between health and the environment becomes increasingly defined as the world learns more about the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this new coronavirus strain can be spread in three main ways:
- Person-to-person via direct contact;
- Person-to-person via airborne respiratory droplets produced when an infected person cough or sneezes;
- Surface-to-person via contact with surfaces or objects that hold the virus, followed by an individual touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Buildings and public spaces play a huge role in disease prevention and control. From its design to operations, buildings contribute to the battle against the spread of viruses in workplaces and offices.
Here are some modifications and optimizations buildings can adapt to prevent another pandemic in the future:
Promote High-quality Indoor Air
Buildings and commercial establishments should promote high-quality indoor air quality and follow a set of standards that focuses on the ventilation and air-conditioning system. This effectively provides clean air into the building and to the office spaces. Research suggests that filtration of recirculated air may be effective in reducing the transmission of airborne infectious diseases. Filters remove dust, vapors, bacteria, and fungi, and also effectively capture viral particles spread by droplet nuclei.
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Ventilating with outdoor air also plays a vital role in diluting airborne contaminants and decreasing disease transmission rates within establishments. According to studies, increasing the ventilation rate can effectively reduce the cross-infection of airborne transmitted diseases by removing or diluting pathogen-laden airborne droplet nuclei. It can dilute the contaminated air inside the space more rapidly and decrease the risk of cross-infection
Maintained Optimal Humidity
Evidence suggests that viruses survive better in low-humidity environments. One optimization buildings can implement after the pandemic is to increase humidity via heating and ventilation systems and maintain an optimal range to 40 to 60%. This can also be achieved by installing humidifiers inside the building premises.
Improved cleaning and maintenance protocols
Another aspect that buildings can focus on when optimizing for disease prevention is highlighting the importance of its property management teams. Workplace policies, guidelines, and protocols must also be restructured to adapt to the “new normal” as the world observe changes this pandemic brings. The modifications and strict enforcement of these procedures should be one of the most essential responsibilities of a building’s property management team during, and even after the crisis.
A healthy building contributes to a healthy community, which, in the long run, play a central role in creating a healthy world. In addition to everyday precautions taken by individuals and employees, the real estate industry, building owners, and developers should be aware of these optimizations that can greatly contribute to virus outbreaks in the future.