How Buildings can Support the Fight against Covid-19 & Future Pandemics

After more than 1.5 years, the fight against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) continues. No different to the rest of the world, Malaysia has undergone a number of days under lockdown and there is now a consensus that COVID-19 is here to stay. With a high possibility of another pandemic in our lifetime, how can our buildings presently support the fight against COVID-19 but also against future pandemics? When we spend more than 90% of the day inside, how can buildings keep us safe?

In this first of the Indoor Environmental Quality series, we explore how COVID-19 spreads in buildings and what buildings can do to support the fight against COVID-19 and future airborne pandemics.

The following strategies are all established by experts in their respective fields and are referenced in green building certification schemes such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), WELL and many others.

Fight against the Spread

First, we need to understand how COVID-19 spreads. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the principal mode of transmission is through exposure to infected respiratory fluids from acts of coughing and sneezing. Respiratory fluids are released in the form of droplets of many sizes which carry the virus. Exposure can occur through three principal ways:

1. Inhalation of air with droplets that are carrying the virus.

Source: Times of India

2. Deposition of virus by being coughed or sneezed on.

Source: India Today

3. Touching contaminated surfaces or droplets and then touching the face.