Industry News: COVID-19 Updates and Healthy Buildings  

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) is Congressionally mandated to assist the built environment, bringing experts to the table to discuss and tackle challenges that face our industry. This responsibility is more critical than ever.

Our team has come together to personally curate and build a resource for those looking for recent developments, financial assistance information, webinars and events, continuing education, and other impacts of the coronavirus on the building sector. This collection of resources will live permanently on the Whole Building Design Guide–WBDG where this new resource hub is regularly updated as new information becomes available.

Our No. 1 priority during this unprecedented time is the safety and health of our workforce. We aim to improve lives through collaboration, and it’s our hope this information will fit the needs of the industry. If you have a news item or information that you would like included, please send it to wbdg@nibs.org.

Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers: Defense Industrial Base, Energy, Dams, Healthcare & Public Health, Chemical, Communications, Government Facilities, Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste, Information Technology, Commercial Facilities, Transportation Systems, Financial, Water & Wastewater, Emergency Services, Food & Agriculture, Critical Manufacturing
Apr 23, 2020
UL COVID-19 Support Center Highlights Real-Time Regulatory Changes and Updates to Enable Remote Audits

UL is offering a new COVID-19 Support and Service Center that’s designed to provide emergency response services to help businesses respond to the pandemic. The support center also offers UL updates related to the pandemic, including changes to enable remote audits and witnessed testing, resources to manage UL projects and follow-up service, and tools to highlight real-time regulatory changes and aid searches for alternative materials or components. Additionally, Underwriters Laboratories, UL's nonprofit affiliate, identified 23 of its standards that can help to fight COVID-19 Learn more—including how to access the documents for free—at UL.org

Topics
  • Code Compliance
  • COVID-19
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Apr 23, 2020
AIA Billings Index Indicates COVID-19's Serious Impacts on Firms' Businesses

Billings at architecture firms plummeted in March as the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell by 20.1 points to a score of 33.3 for the month (a score over 50 indicates increasing billings, a score below 50 indicates declining billings). This is by far the largest single month decline the index has seen in its nearly 25-year history, far surpassing the declines of 9.4 points seen at the start of the 2001 recession and 8.3 points seen at the start of the Great Recession. It reflects just how quickly and fundamentally business conditions have changed across the country and around the world in the last month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ABI also indicated staggering drops in future work. Also of interest are ways that firms surveyed say they are "belt tightening" in wake of the downturn.

Topics
  • Architecture
  • COVID-19
  • Economics
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Apr 22, 2020
NECA Hosts Safety Stand-Down for the COVID-19 Pandemic

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) will host a nationwide Safety Stand Down for COVID-19 on April 29. Electrical contractors across the country will invite employees, subcontractors, owners, architects, and engineers to join the event to review company protocols and jobsite conditions, and ask questions, bringing focus to health and safety guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Electrical
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Apr 21, 2020
ESRI Invites Industry to Share COVID-19 "Maps and Apps"

ESRI, constructor of ArcGIS mapping and spatial analytics software, invites members of the building industry to help and inspire others around the world by sharing maps and apps related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The group invites sharing of Apps, ArcGIS Story Maps, and ArcGIS Hub Sites. Visit the ESRI website to contribute and view submissions.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Geotechnical
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Apr 20, 2020
BOMA International Establishes Coronavirus Resource Center

BOMA International has established a continually updated website, designed especially to provide commercial real estate professionals with credible information on how to mitigate the potential health and business impacts of COVID-19. The site contains a series of guidance papers and links to a number of recorded webinars. Also of interest is a detailed analysis of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its potential effect on businesses, employees, and tenants.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Facility Management
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Apr 20, 2020
On-Demand Webinar: Is Your Firm Prepared? Business Continuity Planning for Architects

Floods, cyber attacks, pandemics, and unexpected staff absences are just a few of the risks that can prevent architecture firms from remaining open and profitable during disaster and disruption. And yet only 22% of firms with 1–19 employees have a business continuity plan. This on-demand offering of AIA's exclusive live course explores the business impacts of common and timely hazard events and reviews the essentials of business continuity planning. It also will introduce AIA's newest free member resource, The Architect's Guide to Business Continuity, which, when implemented, will leave firms with the confidence to weather any storm. The webinar is free for AIA members; $10 for non-members.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Project Management
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Apr 17, 2020
BD&C Website Offers "Must Read" Updates on How Industry is Affected by the Virus

Building Design & Construction (BD&C) for the past month has been collecting articles from around the industry to share how AEC firms are coping with the crisis. Additionally, BD&C, in conjunction with the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), is conducting a survey of the effect of the virus on the ability of AEC professionals to gain and conduct projects. The survey will be distributed biweekly to measure changes in business conditions. The current version will close on Tuesday, April 28, at midnight ET. Findings are published biweekly on the BD&C website, as well through SMPS channels.

Topics
  • Architecture
  • COVID-19
Apr 16, 2020
Gensler’s "Dialog" Website Explores Design for a Healthier World

AE firm Gensler has created a webspace that explores ideas for creating workplaces and other environments for the post-shelter-in-place era. Topics include "Understanding the Touchless Workplace,," "What Happens When We Return to the Workplace," and "Designing Health Care for Surge Capacity."

Topics
  • Architecture
  • COVID-19
  • Workplace Productivity
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Apr 15, 2020
USGBC Provides Learning Lab Resources; K-12 Lessons for Kids Learning at Home

USGBC's Learning Lab online education platform offers lessons and activities that are well-suited for distance learning and many that are ideal for implementing at home, while being academically rigorous and fostering sustainability literacy. Many of these lessons are free; an annual subscription is $40. Additionally, many of USGBC's Learning Lab Partners have mobilized to provide training and experiences that can help educators and parents succeed for the sake of students. USGBC offers a wealth of additional educational resources, including a summer high school toolkit, lessons for educators to use for distance learning, at-home lessons, and even 10 ways to celebrate Earth Day (April 22) at home.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Sustainable
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Apr 15, 2020
AGCS Offers Insurance and Risk Mitigation Guidance

The Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), a global corporate insurance carrier, offers a series of articles providing guidance on topics pertaining to COVID-19. Topics covered include underwriting impact, claims handling, and risk mitigation and loss prevention.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Risk Management
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Apr 14, 2020
ICC Continues Ongoing Free Webinar Series

The building safety industry is adapting to ensure that it can continue to perform its public safety mission while addressing concerns over COVID-19. To offer support at this time, the International Code Council (ICC) has compiled pertinent informative webinars for all to think about as they navigate these uncharted waters. All these webinars are free. After each event takes place, its recording is made available on the ICC web site. See the WBDG Industry Events calendar for upcoming webinars.

Topics
  • Code Compliance
  • COVID-19
Apr 14, 2020
Futurist Sees an Economy with Resilience Equity

Architect and Futurist Gregory S. Knoop, AIA, tells us that like it or not, the months of sequestration from the COVID-19 crisis will change the way we work, the way we view purchasing, and what we need. He outlines how it will change the way the economy of the future takes shape that can be both resilient and sustainable.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Sustainable
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Apr 10, 2020
CDC Develops Guidance to Help Protect Employee

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed guidance to help businesses limit the economic and community impacts of an outbreak of COVID-19. This new guidance provides steps that are recommended to protect employees and prepare small businesses for disruption. The guidance includes a factsheet outlining 10 steps small business employers can take now to protect their employees' health.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Workforce
Apr 9, 2020
Bala Consulting Engineers Offers "COVID-19 and Impacts to the Workplace" Research Paper

The Bala COVID-19 Task Force has researched and collaborated with industry partners and health experts to present some of the most effective ways to make our buildings safer. From filters and air changes in HVAC systems to sanitization and touchless toilet fixtures as well as technology integrations for access control and bio-scanning, there are short- and long-term strategies building owners can implement to increase the safety of their building.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
Apr 9, 2020
IAPMO Creates Database of Plumbing and Mechanical Related COVID-19 Resources

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) has created a robust and continually updated database linking to resources of import to the plumbing and mechanical industries, who were declared essential infrastructure workers by the Department of Homeland Security. Offerings range from "Guidelines to Protect Workers Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Other Potential Infectious Materials (OPIM) in Plumbing and HVAC Systems" to "Coronavirus in Plumbing Systems: How Did the Outbreak Occur in Hong Kong and Is there a Risk in North America?"

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • HVAC
  • Mechanical
  • Plumbing
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Apr 8, 2020
USACE Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite Talks About Adapting Basic COVID-19 Hospital Design to Meet Local Needs

Chief Engineer/Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Lt. General Todd Semonite talked with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about how the Corps is stepping up to evaluate sites create emergency COVID-19 hospitals in more than 58 locales across the country. In this 6 1/2 minute interview, Gen. Semonite speaks about starting with a basic plan that is adapted very quickly to specific requirements of individual cities, including retrofit of New York City's Javits Center, while staying "just one step ahead of the curve."

Topics
  • Building Adaptation
  • COVID-19
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Apr 7, 2020
April 7 Marks National Healthy Schools Day with a Focus on Fighting COVID-19 Upon Return to School

This year's theme of "On the Pandemic Frontline: Children, Families & Schools" highlighted the issue foremost on the minds of all who design, build, and work in schools. The Healthy School Network's online resource page offers the gamut of resources on safe and healthy school buildings, including a section on, "Guidance for Improving Buildings and Grounds," addressing such topics as indoor air quality and extreme weather resistance strategies for school buildings.

Topics
  • COVID-19
Apr 6, 2020
Department of Energy Announces New Funding to Train Emergency Response and Building Professionals

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $4.5 million in funding for training programs for professionals (firefighters, first responders, and safety officials) who interact with distributed energy resources, including solar energy systems, storage systems, "smart" building technologies, and electric vehicles. Projects in this funding opportunity will focus on developing, testing, and disseminating educational materials. In addition to developing new education materials, projects also will focus on working with existing training organizations in each of the targeted professional groups to ensure that the right materials get to the right people in an effective way. Mandatory concept papers are due May 5, 2020. Register to participate in an informational webinar on April 16 at 1 p.m. ET.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Sustainable
  • Workforce
Apr 6, 2020
Editorial: The role of architecture in fighting a pandemic

In an editorial featured in the Boston Globe, founding principal architect and executive director Michael Murphy of MASS Design, Boston, details how architecture, if deployed as an active agent in the fight against COVID-19, might "recapture trust over our public spaces and solve problems. The spatial choices we make today, during this emergency, might make or break our ability to survive both this crisis and the next one."

Topics
  • Architecture
  • COVID-19
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Apr 5, 2020
Modular Building Institute Shares Emergency and Crisis Response Capabilities

The modular construction industry has been in the news every day, as offsite construction finds purpose as expediently constructed medical emergency structures. While talking with many federal agencies, the Modular Building Institute (MBI) has focused its efforts on the needs of FEMA, USACE, and HUD. THE MBI website features business guidelines and tips for its members, as well as a section displaying member organizations’ capabilities and inventories.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Off-Site Construction
Apr 5, 2020
BuildingAction Holds COVID-19 Building Recovery & Relief Webinar

BuildingAction: The Coalition for Sustainable Buildings, a new nonprofit coalition comprised of companies and organizations involved in the creation and use of buildings, held its "COVID-19 Building Recovery and Relief" webinar on April 2 to explore policy ideas to help ensure a healthy built environment, both as an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to spur long-term economic recovery. Slides from the webinar are available for viewing on the coalition's website. The site also offers links to a number of resources pertinent to the building industry and focused on COVID-19.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • Sustainable
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Apr 3, 2020
AIA Task Force Seeks Designs of COVID-19 Alternative Care Sites

As part of its robust platform of COVID-19 mitigation resources, the AIA COVID-19 task force is seeking and sharing designs of COVID-19 alternative care sites. Architects, designers, engineers and facility owners are asked to provide designs to increase information sharing and best practice development for COVID-19 response.

Topics
  • Architecture
  • COVID-19
Apr 3, 2020
CoVent-19 Challenge Asks Millions of Designers and Engineers to Respond to the Ventilator Crisis

A group of anesthesiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital has issued the CoVent-19 Challenge, launched on the GrabCAD Challenges platform on April 1. The CoVent-19 Challenge is an open innovation, eight-week challenge for engineers, innovators, designers, and makers—individually or in teams—to bridge the gap between need and actual resources by fostering innovation of a rapidly deployable, minimum viable mechanical ventilator for patients with covid-19 lung injury. All who are interested may join a two-round challenge that aims to create CAD assemblies by May 1, 2020 (Round 1: General Admission) and functional prototypes demonstrating acceptable performance by June 1, 2020 (Round 2: Invitation Only). Finalists will work directly with Stratasys 3D printing experts and the CoVent-19 Challenge team to turn their designs into prototypes for testing.

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • HVAC
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Apr 3, 2020
ASHRAE Establishes Epidemic Task Force

ASHRAE has established a society-wide Epidemic Task Force to help deploy ASHRAE's technical resources to address the challenges of the current pandemic and future epidemics as it relates to the effects of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems on disease transmission. The task force also will offer recommendations for setting up temporary field hospitals in convention centers, arenas, and stadiums to deal with surges. For more information on the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force including resources and updates, visit the ASHRAE COVID-19 Preparedness Resources webpage

Topics
  • COVID-19
  • HVAC
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Apr 2, 2020
AIA Offers Compendium of Good Samaritan Laws

The AIA’s Good Samaritan Compendium discusses the advantages of Good Samaritan laws, details each state's Good Samaritan protections for architects, and includes AIA model legislation for those interested in understanding and advocating for the adoption of such legislation by states. Related, but not included are laws pertaining to the portability of licensure. Architects licensed within the state for which the law is enacted are typically only eligible to provide volunteer disaster assistance. Some jurisdictions will allow unlicensed professionals to volunteer so long as they work alongside a licensed professional.

Topics
  • Architecture
  • COVID-19

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