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The Movement to Keep Buildings From Making You Sick

Environmental health expert Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard, explains why people should demand more from their schools and offices.

The view from 425 Park Avenue, the first commercial building in New York to pursue WELL healthy building certification.

The view from 425 Park Avenue, the first commercial building in New York to pursue WELL healthy building certification.

Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

In October, the White House held its first-ever summit on indoor air quality, encouraging businesses, organizations and especially schools to improve their buildings’ ventilation and filtration systems. The summit, which came in response to the pandemic, underscored that buildings are a first line of defense against infectious diseases and a key to public health. 

“Healthy buildings are the new minimum,” says Joseph Allen, an expert on indoor environmental quality issues at Harvard University, who also spoke at the summit. “The White House is signaling that they’re critical to Covid and beyond.”