USGBC-LA Launches ‘HEALTHY BUILDING ALLIANCE’ Just as COVID-19 Highlights the Importance of Healthy Buildings

The Alliance is a Commitment to Air & Water Quality, Green Space

LOS ANGELES (May 28, 2020)  The U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter (USGBC-LA) today officially launches the Healthy Building Alliance (HBA).  The Alliance is a commitment – not a certification – that all building owners, office tenants, multi-family and affordable housing managers, and individuals can make to provide healthy, resilient space to live, work, and play.  People typically spend 90% of their time in enclosed spaces (homes, offices, schools, etc.); even more over the last few months.  While not anticipating the current COVID-19 situation when the Alliance planning began in early 2019, the timing could not be more appropriate.

The Healthy Building Alliance launch coincides with the increased interest in and awareness of the necessity to create healthy spaces, as people begin to consider when and how to return to work confidently, or even work and live better and more safely from home.  To do this, a localized and equitable framework that provides better data and engagement from everyone involved is needed.

The Healthy Building Alliance commitment entails five simple principles around building and occupant health – Indoor Air Quality Monitoring, Green Cleaning, Access to Nature, Inspiring Movement, and Water Testing – and helps those who make the commitment collect invaluable data about themselves and their environment through Tenant Surveys, Indoor Air Quality Sensors, and Water Testing.  That data will be paired with resources provided by USGBC-LA and its partners – to help make the Healthy Building Alliance accessible and replicable for all in the LA region and beyond.

“People want to provide healthy spaces for themselves and their peers, but it has long been too complicated and, for many, too daunting to start on that journey,” states Ben Stapleton, USGBC-LA, “Our goal is to instill ownership, generate valuable data, and provide resources to support the journey for all Angelenos to benefit from access to healthy environments.  The crisis we are experiencing around COVID-19 underscores the importance of the spaces we occupy and equity as part of the conversation.”

Data is key to the Healthy Building Alliance’s goals of healthier buildings.  For instance, data on indoor air quality – which can be 2-5x worse than outdoor air quality – and local water quality is needed for all types of buildings, and will be tested annually as part of the program.  Surveys around occupant fitness and activity, urban greening sources, and green cleaning will be taken, with direction provided to address their improvement.  In housing, greater evidence links poorly constructed, maintained and located buildings to many health conditions, and in offices, 50% of illnesses affecting workforces are related to work environment conditions.

Building operators may want healthier spaces, but they often lack the data to make the case for long-term investment and action.  The HBA commitment to data gathering will help make that case, leading to healthier buildings which focus more on:  energy efficiency and water conservation, lower utility bills, improved daily quality of life (including water and air), and overall better health and productivity.

“Ensuring that we have healthy buildings is not only something we truly believe in to improve the health of the Los Angeles built environment, but is a critical business strategy at KRC,” states Sara Neff, Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Kilroy Realty Corporation.  “A recent study indicated that a $20/sf investment in healthy building upgrades can lead to $129/sf in value in commercial office buildings, and we believe building owners need this information to make wise investment decisions in their assets.  We look forward to partnering with USGBC-LA on this important initiative.”

The cost of the program is simple:  $500 for a building owner or tenant’s first space, $250 for each additional space up to 10, and $100 per space for portfolios of 10 or more per year. A waiver can be requested for free access for those experiencing hardship.

“My clients are calling every day asking about wellness strategies, especially in the face of Covid-19, and the Healthy Building Alliance provides guidance at an economical price that will truly benefit the small and medium sized organizations.  We look forward to working with [USGBC-LA] to help this mission grow.  The healthier our space, the safer our space,” states Melissa Gutierrez-Sullivan, Vice President, Sustainability and Wellness Services, Cushman & Wakefield.

At launch, Healthy Building Alliance partners include ArcSkoru, Building Skills Partnership, Cushman & Wakefield, Hudson Pacific Properties, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., Kilroy Realty Corporation, LADWP, Metropolitan Water District, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), SEIU United Service Workers West, and UL.

For more information on the Healthy Building Alliance and on USGBC-LA, please contact Ben Stapleton at ben@usgbc-la.org or Fernanda Zuin at fernanda@usgbc-la.org.

About U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles

USGBC-LA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable future within one generation. Our mission promotes sustainability in LA County’s built environment by delivering access to knowledge, resources, recognition and networking. (www.usgbc-la.org)