At the onset of the pandemic, the International Well Building Institute went into action quite quickly to review the WELL standard, examining how it affects the spread of infection and whether it can help to prevent it. WELL is organized around 10 themes, ranging from air and water quality to other concepts that have relevance for infection control, such as fitness and mental health. It does contain a lot of guidance to promote hygiene: it starts with very simple things, such as using signs to encourage people to wash their hands, but it also has very detailed policies for designers and facilities management staff. It looks at the types of surface that are specified – are they easily cleaned, do they harbour contaminants? On an operational level, it addresses aspects such as staff training, cleaning products and protocols. So with handwashing, for example, soap dispensers should be touch-free so that we can clean our hands without picking up pathogens, and we should be able to dry our hands using tissues or touch-free devices.
We don’t need “chemical bombs” – we can still use environmentally friendly and healthy products.
When you look at the chemicals that will kill the coronavirus, scientists have found that some very basic products, mainly containing alcohol and other standard ingredients, are the best way to deal with it. Using the right products is not just about containing viruses, but also ensuring that we don’t compromise air quality and health more broadly.