The New Normal: The Positive Impacts of COVID
There is no denying that the oncoming of the novel Coronavirus has caused much pain and difficulty in the world. For many terrible reasons, this time will not easily be forgotten; but there are some things that have come from this time that give us hope.
There have been reports of environmental improvement as people self-quarantined and humans from all around the world were less mobile. Carbon emissions are down globally as manufacturing, power generation and air travel came to a grinding halt only a few months ago. As a result, good air days were recorded regularly, for the first time in decades, in some of the most heavily polluted areas in the world. With tourism coming to a sudden stop, many major, natural tourist attractions are seeing environmental improvements; bodies are water clearer than they were before, and wildlife is returning to certain areas as biodiversity begins to make a comeback. Although, the pandemic has afforded the environment a small break and a chance for the planet to rejuvenate, Scientists and Environmentalists are less optimistic. While the environmental improvements are something worth celebrating, more systemic and long-lasting changes are needed to sustain the progress that has been made.
In 2010, California implemented the first-in-the-nation mandatory green building standards code known as CALGreen. According to the official CALGreen website, “the purpose of this code is to improve public health, safety and general welfare by enhancing the design and construction of buildings. The goal is for positive environmental impact and encouraging sustainable construction practices in the following categories: Planning and design, energy efficiency, water efficiency and conservation, material conservation and resource efficiency, environmental quality.” California was leading the way in mindfulness and action in regards to environmental impact before the spread of COVID-19, and the virus will continue to push us towards positive evolution of our construction practices.
Along with the environment, we have also seen a shift in construction building priorities. With less traveling happening, construction has taken advantage of the decreased traffic as we see an increase in road work and infrastructure repair. The industry is seeing a shift with less new builds and more revitalization of existing buildings through renovations, remodels and tenant improvements. It’s been refreshing to see old, abandon buildings given new life and purpose in their communities. We are currently turning old CVS stores, city buildings, and retired jails into new healthcare facilities!
People have also responded to this time of great need with helpfulness and community spirit. When the economy first closed, we saw people organize shopping runs for the elderly, and quarantined strangers stand on their separate balconies to create music together. We saw construction companies donate masks and materials to frontline healthcare workers. In many ways, the pandemic produced a human response to a human need, ushering in a new level of connectedness and community. For some, the pandemic has inspired more frequent connection with loved ones, as times of crisis can remind people of the importance of friends and family. Internet technologies have helped bridge the physical gap by helping people stay in touch.
Innovation has become a biproduct of the pandemic, especially in the construction industry. Many companies abruptly transitioned to remote based workflows and began using tele-communication tools for meetings. For the organizations that made the shift to remote work, many found that productivity and efficiency increased. As a result, people began to consider if an “in-person workforce” is even essential for production.
With social distancing, and many people finding themselves at home more than before, people have been given the chance to reflect. This break in routine allowed people to consider the structure of their lives; many realizing their need for balance especially for workers who are accustomed to frequent travel and long time spent apart from their families. For some, it was realizing the commute to an office wasn’t necessary, for others, realizing just how much time they were spending away from home was taking a toll. A chance to slow down and consider our personal wellness was a positive outcome of the virus.
We understand there is much negativity as result of COVID-19, but we also choose to recognize that some positive things have happened, as well, and those things can continue to give us hope as we navigate this season of life.