Building Health Series
Ryan M Anderson, AIA
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone at one level or another. These types of events cause us to pause and take stock of our surroundings and put our thinking caps on to consider what we can do better to prepare for events such as these or even to mitigate the spread of a common cold.
One of the things we can look at from a building perspective is how we can minimize that spread through strategies in our built environment. Over the course of the next few weeks we'll dig into these strategies and hopefully provide you with helpful tips to implement in the future.
(Part 1 of 6): Goals
When we look at building design and materials we can never fully prevent the spread of germs, viruses, or other pathogens - we can certainly maximize mitigation efforts to give us the best opportunity to prevent that spread, but we'll never be able to completely stop it.
With that in mind, our goals are really the following:
Minimize direct paths of spread between people - the more indirect the path, the less likelihood of spread.
Minimize pedestrian cross-traffic or head-to-head traffic - these situations cause a direct path of spread as a person approaching from those directions has a direct line to another person's face (think line of sight - if I can see the front or side of your face when I'm approaching you, I have a direct path of spread with you).
Moderate interaction between people to minimize possibility of spread - no matter where we go or what we do we will always need to interact with someone, so we want to identify what measures we can take to minimize spread in these situations.
Minimize a person's incidental contact with surfaces - it's simple: spread is drastically reduced the less one touches surfaces others have touched.
Maximize use of hygienic and cleanable materials and fixtures - touching a surface or fixture wherever one goes is inevitable so let's identify materials, surfaces, finishes, and fixtures that maximize hygiene and cleanability of those surfaces or minimize the need for touching at all.
Maximize potential of building HVAC systems to provide a clean interior environment - the air we breathe presents a whole host of issues from allergens to viruses to VOC's and there are strategies that can help to reduce contaminants or spread.
The intent with this series is to offer different strategies in building layout and design, access control, materials, HVAC & plumbing, and mental health that will assist in accomplishing the above. While every strategy may not apply to everyone - and there are certainly more than what we will identify - every step we can take brings us at least one step closer to staying healthy.
Ryan is a Vice President at Ackerman-Estvold and the architecture team lead and has been applying his trade in the region around Minot for the past 17 years. If you have any questions throughout this series or would like more information on a particular topic, by all means contact us and we'd be more than happy to have a conversation.