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11. Building operations

Return to December 2020 update

Length: 3 min read;  558 words.

ote: The following paragraphs summarize the category of Official Strategies / Guidelines // Rules / Regulations observed in December. More information about the specific category from December (and previous months) can be found in the downloaded report(s). The number in square brackets (e.g., [X]) refers to a reference where the reader can find more infomation about a specific statement.  The references can be found in the References list below, Systematized References page or in the dowloaded report.


The discussion about this category remained on the same level as in September (23.6 in December vs. 24% in September). In previous reports we highlighted successful application of WELL certification for buildings to address a post COVID-19 environment [453][454] and news from RESET® [455] and Fitwel [456][457]. The community still discusses the need for new building operation standards as the current guidelines are confusing and/or contradicting and unsustainable. [74][402] The AEC community continues to urge action on healthier policy priorities. Just using BIM is not enough, common BIM standards are required globally to provide clearer communication. Today the BIM Execution Plan is more like a set of guidelines than rules. [298] In the U.S., President-elect Joe Biden added a prominent workplace health expert to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board - so far, four states (Virginia, Michigan, California and Oregon) have enacted emergency workplace standards in response to the pandemic, including protocols for screening employees and visitors, physical distancing measures and the use of masks and face shields. [76] A recapitulation article about public space changes highlighted National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)’s series of guidelines for adapting streets to new uses during and after the pandemic including policies for bike lanes, sidewalks extensions, slow streets, outdoor dining, and markets. Since the release, the project has been continually revised and expanded, addressing the changing conditions of the pandemic and providing the latest input from practice. Globally city level policies have transformed megacities such as Milan and Paris. [414] New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s plan to ban new construction of inefficient skyscrapers as part of a major bid to tackle climate change. [413]

Due to pandemic some environmental regulations have been eased by governments to bail out leading oil and gas companies setting back the fight against climate change. [216] The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has approved the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 to strengthen the nuclear fuel supply chain. [295] Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects withdraw from Architects Declare climate change group. [458]

Vaccine rollout requires regulatory framework. Vaccine distribution plans vary globally. In the U.S., CDC plan puts essential workers, including construction workers, second in line for COVID-19 vaccine after vulnerable populations and healthcare workers. [444]  The U.S. Department of Transportation supports supply chain networks for emergency transportation of vaccines, medical supplies and equipment related to the prevention of COVID-19. [316] Employers can require proof of COVID-19 vaccination. [25]

Google suggests an ecosystem of open standards, tools and products requirement to enable a truly smart ecosystem at a city wide (or global) level. The way buildings are designed, built and operated will need to change, with smart ready principles being built into the foundations, and a common technical infrastructure owned and managed by an enterprise. In the same way BREAAM and LEED revolutionized the sustainability industry, a common “digital building” certification is required to create a measured baseline between spaces and buildings. It will be difficult to measure on an application level due to the variety; however, if the certification focused on the infrastructure flexibility and digital approach, it would be a foundation that all buildings could aim for and grow beyond as the industry develops. [388][387]

See September Category Summary


[76] “Biden names workplace safety expert to COVID-19 task force”, Construction Dive. (accessed Jan. 11, 2021)
[216] “What 2020 Meant for Climate Change and the Environment”, ArchDaily, Dec. 11, 2020. (accessed Feb. 23, 2021)
[295] S. Patel, “Bipartisan Bill to Preserve Existing Nuclear Plants Clears Senate Committee”, POWER Magazine, Dec. 03, 2020. (accessed Jan. 21, 2021)
[298] “Why contractors need common standards in BIM”, SmartBrief, Sep. 23, 2020. (accessed Jan. 11, 2021)
[387] “google/digitalbuildings”.
[414] “How Has Public Space Changed in 2020?”, ArchDaily, Dec. 18, 2020. (accessed Feb. 23, 2021)
[453] REW, “IWBI launches COVID-ready certification”, Real Estate Weekly, Jun. 08, 2020. (accessed Jun. 28, 2020)
[455] “RESET® Standard”. (accessed Aug. 21, 2020)
[458] “Foster + Partners withdraws from Architects Declare”, Dezeen, Dec. 02, 2020. (accessed Feb. 28, 2021)
Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - December 2020 Update