These days, many of us arrange Zoom parties with family and friends, order food through contactless delivery and meet work deadlines in pyjama pants. While not an entirely bad set up, “Covid fatigue” is inching its way into our vocabulary and many of us are expressing how much we “can’t wait for things to return to normal”.
Here is the problem with a return to normal: While “normal” for many of us means bars, beaches, festivals and gatherings, for too many of us, it was and continues to be food and housing insecurity, extreme weather events and increased illness brought on by climate change and environmental degradation.
Establishing a new normal scientists have been ringing alarm bells on climate change and its consequences for years. But worldwide, GHG emissions continue to increase. This is because the habits and systems that have led us here are deeply-seated in our social and economic structures. They’re not easy to change. However, in the last 6 months, the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the status quo and has demonstrated that we can work together to shift away from some of the harmful habits we’ve developed as a society.
Being the change we want to see can start just about anywhere. But for the sake of this blog, let’s start with commercial building health!
In ioAirFlow’s home base of Winnipeg, buildings account for 35% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Though Winnipeg does have an older building stock compared to many other cities across the country, buildings still account for a significant percentage of GHG emissions at around 13%. Class C buildings, which buildings make up over 70% of the country’s existing building stock, have ample room for improving their energy consumption, their comfort levels and their indoor air quality. A few other things to note about these buildings:
Despite this, and the well-recognized existence of technologies to improve energy efficiency and IEQ in commercial buildings, many still aren’t utilizing these low-risk and well-proven tools for responsible fiscal, social and environmental management. While there is no doubt that changing regulations, increasing costs and climate change recognition have energy efficiency top of mind for many commercial building owners and operators, limited resources, including constraints on capital, expertise and time render alleviating barriers difficult.
This can be especially true in Class C buildings, which generally don’t have the expertise on hand to undertake the improvements to reduce the ecological impact of their buildings, ensure tenant retainment and increase the life of their buildings.
But, right now, numerous new policies are going to be put into place in many of our workplaces to ensure occupants remain healthy amid the pandemic – everything from limiting touch points, to enforcing physical distancing criteria. These expected workplace changes render this the perfect time for incorporating shifts in behaviours and processes that improve energy use and building comfort for occupants.
With buildings being relatively empty for many commercial building owners, this is an ideal time to invite the experts in and support improvements.
For building owners, our occupants and our environment are what sustains us. And, as construction resumes, manufacturing chains begin to flow and we start to trickle back to work, let’s push their needs to the forefront. Now more than ever, people want to stay healthy. Give them a head start.
By Amanda San Filippo - VP Business Development & COO, ioAirFlow