In order to help combat COVID-19, the U.S. Green Building Council has established new LEED safety guidelines. The new recommendations cover layout, materials, air quality, and smart technology, and are focused on senior care facilities.
The guidelines suggest that facilities renovate to create more single-occupancy rooms. Flexible layouts and multipurpose rooms can help to address both current and future concerns without needing additional space. Uncoated copper alloys are best for knobs and rails, as the copper alloys have an antimicrobial factor. Curtains should be replaced with glass or plexiglass. Countertops and floors should use nonporous or less porous materials such as quartz and Corian for countertops and porcelain, vinyl, or wood for floors. Ventilation is of utmost importance, particularly in bathrooms, and should be maintained regularly. Touchless features go a long way, such as automatic doors, touchless faucets, and voice activated lights.
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Balconies provide the outdoor space and fresh air so desired in residences and offices alike. They can be deadly, though, if not properly built and maintained. Even if no one gets hurt, preventing safety hazards can cost less in the long run than repairing damages. California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills in September aimed at inspection, repair, and accountability in multifamily dwellings.
One very common problem found in balconies is water intrusion. Even though it’s well known that water can lead to dry rot and structural damage, most balconies don’t have adequate drainage or ability to repel moisture. Balconies should be sloped, and redundant drainage allows for repairs when one drain is not working properly. Waterproofing can also help.
Inspections usually don’t miss much in the interior of the building, but outside areas can frequently be overlooked. The architecture consulting firm Marx|Okubo suggests a flood test of balconies before the occupants move in. After the residents or tenants move in, property owners in California may be required to inspect their balconies every three to six years, and probably should more frequently. Landlords and property management companies should also respond to tenant concerns as quickly as possible.
Prior to the first of the year, existing law required pools and spas to have at least one of seven features designed to prevent drowning. These features are 1) an approved enclosure separating the pool from the home; 2) approved removable mesh fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate; 3) an approved safety pool cover; 4) exit alarms on doors that provide direct access to the pool; 5) a self-closing, self-latching mechanism on direct access doors no lower than 54 inches above the floor; 6) a certified alarm that sounds when detecting pool access; or 7) any other independently approved and verified protection meeting or exceeding the same standards.
These seven categories remain the same. New law requires that newly constructed pools must have at least two of these safety features, and also requires home inspectors to conduct a noninvasive physical examination of the pool. Another change is that localities with their own local pool safety ordinances are no longer exempt from these safety regulations.