August 6, 2020

Industry Leaders Urge WHO to Stress Role of Built Environments in Combating Spread of COVID-19

The A&D community is taking building safety into their own hands with a widely backed petition urging the World Health Organization to establish best practices for air standards, among other measures, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. “What started as a conversation among a few concerned practitioners across the entire built environment continuum quickly grew to a call to action drawing in… more than 680 signatories from 51 countries in less than 30 days,” says Luke Leung, sustainable engineering studio director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, about the petition he and many of his global design colleagues have brought forth to the WHO.  

United as peers, these various experts of interiors have unilaterally felt that, without their consultation, the WHO is falling short of explaining and expanding upon the significance of built environments and COVID-19 transmissions. In total support of the medical and health professionals’ model of reducing harm with precautionary measures, the WHO must also work with the design experts to develop effective and intelligent guidance for integrated design and operation solutions to complement existing advice, such as wearing face coverings. These include indoor air quality technologies, enhanced natural ventilation, high performance air filters, appropriate humidity control, and access to robust sunlight or proper ultra-violet light. 

The defense against COVID-19 is multifaceted, as is the design world. Besides individual designers and firms, organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers have added their company signatures to support the petition. “We have now seen more than ever, the importance of our profession and, how it affects the health and safety of all holistically,” IFI president Titi Ogufere says. 

> See our full coverage of COVID-19 and its impact on the A&D industry

ThinkLab, the research division of SANDOW, is gathering information about our industry’s response to COVID-19. Click here if you’d like to participate.

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