Coronavirus means building owners and companies need to look at new health standards
Bisnow – March 31
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), an organization focused on the health and wellness of commercial real estate, planned to unveil an updated set of standards March 13. Then the coronavirus started spreading. In light of the pandemic, the IWBI put together a task force of health experts and academics to rewrite its list of recommendations to combat future pandemics in the workplace. Similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification for a building’s carbon output, IWBI’s WELL Building Standard is a certification program aimed at commercial real estate landlords and businesses’ office space. But IWBI’s focus is on addressing the health and wellness of workers within those spaces, everything from physical health to better food offerings and mental health policies.
Coronavirus bans hit majority of Bay Area commercial, market-rate housing construction
San Francisco Chronicle – March 31
Bay Area health officials issued a sweeping new order this Tuesday banning a range of commercial and residential construction that had previously been exempt from stay-at-home mandates. The move could swell the record number of Californians seeking unemployment by putting some construction workers out of jobs. The order requires that most construction projects shut down, but exempts health care projects related to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, as well as housing and mixed-use projects that are at least 10 percent affordable. It allows projects “that provide services to vulnerable populations” as well as those that are “required to maintain safety, sanitation, and habitability of residences and commercial buildings.” San Francisco will limit public works construction to essential projects determined by officials. The order covers six counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.
California natural gas utilities supporting state’s decarbonization
Natural Gas Intelligence - April 1
With support from the natural gas distribution utilities, California regulators last Thursday approved major efforts to decarbonize with unprecedented additions of renewables and battery storage, along with pilot electrification programs for new buildings. The action by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) implements state Senate Bill 1477, which provides $200 million of cap-and-trade funds over four years for an all-electric buildings program (40 percent) and a technology program (60 percent) in which various zero-emission technologies can be used for water and space heating. The California Energy Commission would oversee the all-electric program and the technology initiatives would be administered by a still-to-be-named third-party overseen by the CPUC. Cap-and-trade allocations from the state’s four major gas utilities would support the pilot tests, with Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Co. providing nearly half of the funding.
Owners of large San Diego buildings face June 1 deadline for compliance with energy initiative
The San Diego Union-Tribune – March 31
Owners of large buildings across the city of San Diego must submit information about energy use within those buildings by June 1 to help the city comply with the energy-reduction goals of its legally binding climate action plan. The plan, adopted in 2015, aims to shrink greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. Forty percent of the proposed reductions would come from more efficient energy use in buildings, where old heating and air-conditioning systems can be energy guzzlers. To achieve the city’s goals by 2035, officials are requiring building owners to start submitting documentation of their current energy use so that it can be benchmarked against other buildings and so that the city can gauge progress. The new law applies to commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet and multifamily and mixed-use buildings that are greater than 50,000 square feet and have 17 or more residential accounts.
With empty streets, Beverly Hills looks to speed up Westside subway construction
Curbed – April 1
With transit ridership and revenue plummeting nationwide, the Beverly Hills City Council gave Metro some rare good news this Tuesday night, agreeing to a plan that could speed up work on one of Los Angeles’ most anticipated transportation projects. With most schools and businesses shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the city is temporarily closing a three-block stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, not far from Rodeo Drive. The closure, from Crescent Drive to Beverly Drive, will allow Metro to expedite construction of the forthcoming Wilshire/Rodeo subway station, part of the second phase of construction of a subway to the Westside. According to a report from city staffers, this could accelerate construction of the extension of the D Line (formerly known as the Purple Line) by as much as six months, depending on how long the closures remain in place.