Woman hands over body hold eco friendly earth

Across the sustainable design and construction industry, architects, engineers, product manufacturers and builders are realizing toxin-free building materials are just part of the equation. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), designs that bring nature’s healing effects into the workplace and lighting that regulates energy levels are two of the design features that prioritize human health.

Efforts like these are supported by the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and the International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Building Standard. These programs set benchmarks for energy and resource efficiency, environmental impact, and health-centered designs and practices.

For instance, a new LEED pilot credit — Integrative Process for Health Promotion — requires projects to team with a public health professional or organization to find strategies and practices that positively impact health.

Another of the key practices is adopting and maintaining cleaning practices that use non-toxic chemicals and procedures.

In fact, a Contracting Profits survey showed that two-thirds of facility executives rank a healthy environment for building occupants as their most important cleaning priority.

But, in this same survey, only 3 percent of facility executives say cleaning commonly touched objects is the most important cleaning task. Instead, they emphasize clean restrooms and lobbies — tasks that contribute to making a great first impression. Despite these findings, cleaning to control the spread of germs is a key part of keeping building occupants healthy.

Going beyond just appearances, proper cleaning and disinfecting reduces the spread of viruses by 80 to 90 percent. Cleaning crews should focus on commonly touched areas and disinfect them daily. Contractors can also provide disinfectant wipes so occupants can disinfect their personal spaces and items, especially if these areas are prohibited in the contract specs.