IWBI Task Force on COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Infections: Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery Hosts First Town Hall and Announces Three New Co-chairs

May 7, 2020 4:35 PM ET
Summary: 

Facility Management Association of Australia’s Bryon Price; “du” Telecom’s Dr. Mansoor Anwar Habib, and Hines’ Adam Slakman join group of co-chairs convening cross-sector experts to advance the role of buildings and communities in protecting, enhancing health.

Press Release

NEW YORK –May 7, 2020 /3BL Media/ – The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) today announced the addition of Bryon Price, chair of the board of the Facility Management Association of Australia and Strategic Development Director of A.G. Coombs Group; Dr.  Mansoor Anwar Habib M.D., Ph.D, Head of Happiness and Tolerance at “du” Telecom; and Adam Slakman, Global Sustainability Manager at Hines, as the newest co-chairs of its Task Force on COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Infections: Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery. They join expert co-chairs from the U.S., China, the UK and Europe to convene over 540 expert members who are helping define the critical role buildings, organizations and communities play in reducing the health burden from this and other infectious diseases.

This week, the Task Force held its first virtual town hall, an open discussion for Task Force members moderated by Task Force co-chairs on how we can better prepare our buildings and businesses to support inclusive resilience and equitable recovery. Led by Joanne Mahoney, Chief Operating Officer of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Cristina Gamboa, CEO of World Green Building Council, along with IWBI’s Jason Hartke, EVP of Policy and Advocacy, the town hall addressed the role of government, businesses and the investment community in supporting local communities most impacted by COVID-19. 

Over 200 Task Force members joined the discussion, raising critical issues on how to ensure a future that is healthy, equitable, sustainable and inclusive for the most vulnerable in society, including low-income workers, students and those living in high-density affordable housing. Participants discussed how to integrate the sustainability and health and well-being movements in a way that supports the long-term recovery of both business and the communities they serve. Other topics raised during the session included mental health support for a diverse workforce, inclusive design approaches, harnessing technology to advance healthcare and remote learning for all and enabling structural changes to build trust and empower local communities in cooperation with local governments. 

“There’s no question that this pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the scale and depth of inequalities around the world,” said IWBI’s Hartke during the town hall discussion. 

The town hall furthered the conversation that was initiated through commentary on a forum that enables crowdsourcing from the global Task Force community of experts across subjects. To date, hundreds of comments have been posted to the forum, offering insights about protecting global health through building design and operations, as well as organizational policies and practices.

“Through this week’s town hall and by digging into insights shared on the Task Force portal, we were reminded of the power of convening, collecting and applying the diverse expertise of hundreds of leaders to the challenges before us,” IWBI Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi added. 

Task Force members include public health experts, government officials, academics and business leaders, as well as architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals who have heeded a global call to action to contribute their knowledge during this worldwide public health emergency. Hailing from dozens of countries, they will also provide focused guidance to specific market sectors, including airports, industrial, healthcare, affordable housing, senior living and education.  

The work of the Task Force is two-fold. First is to identify and develop a set of signature deliverables and resources, including guidelines for individuals, organizations and communities to help them better integrate actionable insights and proven strategies into how they manage both their buildings and their organizations. Second, the Task Force will help inform ways in which the WELL Building Standard (WELL) itself can be further strengthened so the system, which touches more than a half-billion square feet of space across 60 countries, can best continue to support prevention and preparedness, resiliency and recovery in this critical moment and into the future.

“We know that new resources and guidance are critical in order to position our buildings, and those who tend to them, as front-line caregivers in COVID-19 response and recovery,” said Rachel Gutter, president of the International WELL Building Institute. “By listening to our Task Force members, we are tuning in to what this experience has to teach us and recognizing that we all have a role to play in advancing public health.”

The list of Task Force members is publicly available here, and more information about the Task Force and IWBI’s response to COVID-19 is available here.

About the International WELL Building Institute
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is leading the global movement to transform our buildings, communities and organizations in ways that help people thrive. The WELL v2 pilot is the latest version of its popular WELL Building Standard (WELL), and the WELL Community Standard pilot is a district scale rating system that sets a new global benchmark for healthy communities. WELL is focused exclusively on the ways that buildings and communities, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness. IWBI mobilizes the wellness community through management of the WELL AP credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and wellness everywhere. IWBI is a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative, and helps companies advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the use of WELL. More information on WELL can be found here.

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