As more businesses adjust to the pandemic and reopen their physical facilities for employees to return to work, a clean, hygienic work environment will be crucial. A healthy office space is essential to ensure workers stay motivated and productive, as well as to prevent the spread of illness among employees, tenants, and visitors.
Healthy building certifications can demonstrate that business owners have instituted practices that support high levels of cleanliness, helping occupants and guests feel safer about returning to work and other public places. While they are often touted for reducing emissions and supporting green construction, these certifications also focus on verified cleaning and hygiene practices, which can help reassure employees that they will be safe when they return to the office. In addition, widespread recognition of the certification’s high benchmarks can also elevate a business’s reputation and credibility.
Choosing which building certification to pursue depends on a variety of factors, such as specific corporate priorities, as well as available budget and other resources for implementing the required modifications and processes. Tork offers a variety of products and solutions to assist building owners in meeting required hygiene standards, while earning other environmental credits in many healthy building accreditations.
The following are a few of the more well-known building certifications around the world. We’ve summarized how they incorporate sustainable hygiene and cleaning standards along with the benefits and peace of mind they can bring to business owners and employees alike.
Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)
Known as the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation program1, this certification indicates that an organization has met the gold standard for cleanliness and safety in their industry. It integrates 20 criteria related to cleaning, hygiene, and disinfection planning and procedures. These range from standard operating procedures and equipment to PPE requirements.
As one of the latest certifications, GBAC offers employees and customers assurance that a facility is meeting the highest possible benchmarks for disinfection and cleaning. GBAC’s focus on continuous improvement also communicates that effective hygiene and cleanliness are an ongoing priority, not a one-time or temporary concern.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
While most certifications focus on existing buildings and spaces, LEED provides a framework for designing and constructing energy-efficient buildings and healthy indoor environments.2 Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), it’s a highly prestigious symbol of sustainability that’s the most recognized certification around the world.
The system awards certifications at four levels based on points: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. In addition, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USGBC has implemented new LEED credits as part of its Healthy Economy strategy to assist businesses with their recovery. These credits cover areas such as re-entry planning assessment, pandemic planning, and cleaning and disinfecting your space.
LEED certification can lower operating costs, enable owners to command higher rents, and increase asset value. LEED also says higher indoor air quality can reduce employee sick days due to asthma, allergies, and chemical sensitivities.3
The WELL Health-Safety Rating4 uses design and operational guidelines to recognize workplaces that support optimal mental and physical health, not just disease prevention. Organizations must meet a minimum of 15 out of 21 criteria across five categories:
- Cleaning and sanitation procedures, including hand hygiene products
- Health service resources
- Stakeholder engagement and communication
- Emergency preparedness
- Air and water quality management
WELL certification is evaluated and renewed every year, demonstrating a business’s ongoing commitment to employee safety and health. WELL-building certification can also highlight innovative leadership, support recruiting efforts, and heighten a company’s brand profile.
Designed for both office and industrial buildings, BOMA 360 evaluates operational and management procedures across six categories:
- Building operations and management
- Life safety, security, and risk management
- Training and education
- Tenant relations/community involvement.5
Certification indicates best-in-class practices in all areas. This designation signifies higher tenant satisfaction and employee trust in a business’s standards and practices for health sanitation.
Tork can help you meet new hygiene standards
Employees, tenants, and visitors expect to see evidence of rigorous hygiene standards when they are back in the office and other public spaces. From break rooms to conference rooms, Tork has effective, sustainable cleaning products and innovative solutions—including handwashing education resources–that can help keep people healthy. They can also assist building owners in achieving required hygiene standards and earn credits for these and other building accreditations. Learn more at: torkusa.com/sustainability/world-leader/leed-credits.
1 GBAC: GBAC Star Facility Accreditation
2 U.S. Green Building Council: LEED Rating System
3 U.S. Green Building Council: Why LEED
4 WELL: WELL Health-Safety Rating
5 BOMA: BOMA 360 Performance Program