Healthy Economy Forum Report by U.S. Green Building Council
USGBC’s recently announced economic recovery strategy and vision, Healthy People in Healthy Places equals a Healthy Economy, articulates the interconnected role buildings and communities play in people’s health and the economy at large.
To make this strategy actionable, USGBC’s Healthy Economy Forum, held August 4-5, 2020, convened industry experts and frontline practitioners to provide insights and strategies for making our spaces healthier and more resilient.
At the forum, Brenna Walraven, President and CEO of Corporate Sustainability Strategies, together with Simon Turner, Owner and Founder of Building Cognition, Henry Chamberlain, President and Chief Operating Officer of BOMA International, Ben Myers, Vice President of Sustainability of Boston Properties, and Alex Spilger, Senior Vice President, Director of Sustainability of Cushman & Wakefield presented The Business Case for Healthy Buildings in a Post-COVID Era.
Notable references in the report include:
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
- Simon Turner, Owner and Founder of Building Cognition, noted productivity is highest when room temperature is set to 70-73 degrees and proposed building occupants will start to demand better ventilation with an increased cost of $14-$40 per person each year.
- Technology can play a key role in building trust. As Brenna Walraven, President and CEO of Corporate Sustainability Strategies, said, “There is an app for everything, and that includes indoor air quality.”
- According to Walraven, inactivity results in $54 billion in health care costs and $14 billion in lost productivity.
Resiliency – Intersectionality
- Boston Properties’ Sustainability Program approaches this definition from an intersectional lens, combining climate action, resilience and social good, while prioritizing human health. This approach has been and continues to be shaped by watershed moments, whether it be the 2012 Superstorm Sandy to this year’s pandemic.
- Ben Myers, Vice President of Sustainability at Boston Properties, explained how they convened thought leaders and specialists to develop a plan of action for four phases of these events: retreat, return, restore and resilient. Grounded in science, their plan lays out five durable changes: physical distancing enablement, contact transmission elimination, IAQ management and expertise advancement (engineering expertise, monitoring mechanisms), cleaning and disinfection enhancement and shared responsibility and discipline for mitigation and containment (health screening, communication, testing, etc.).
- Henry Chamberlain, President and Chief Operating Officer, BOMA International, spoke about the use of sensors and cleaning, touchless or hands-free workplaces and virtual technologies as the new normal.
The Report summarizes the forum’s discussion and is the first step to a longer roadmap for the implementation of our healthy places for a healthy economy vision.