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LEED Safety First Pilot Credits Feb. blog

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New LEED Safety First Pilot Credits to Support Success

Posted on 22 February 2021 by cradmin

To keep pace with the evolving health challenges around the world, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) designed several LEED Safety First pilot credits, which address COVID-19. Four new Education @USGBC courses offer a combination of videos, podcasts and resources to support success with implementing these credits.

The pilot credits outline sustainable best practices related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace reoccupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations, and may be used by LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing certification.

Learn more through these education resources:

  1. Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 Credit
    The objective of this credit is to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the air in a building and to define best practices. The credit builds on the current standards for indoor air quality and LEED credits.

The resources available for this credit include a video presentation by Nicole Isle, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Strategist, Glumac, which was recorded during the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum on Aug. 4, 2020.

  1. Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace Credit
    The goal of this credit is to establish conditions and best practices for reentry assessment, as well as planning and evaluation of progress once a space is occupied.

The resources available for this credit include video clips from a July 2020 LEED v4.1 Ask the Experts webinar, where insights are shared by Corey Enck, Vice President, LEED Technical Development, USGBC, and Ken Filarski, Founder and Principal, FILARSKI/ ARCHITECTURE + PLANNING + RESEARCH; a video clip from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum, and the AIA Re-occupancy Assessment Tool.

  1. Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space Credit
    With this credit, the aim is to identify standards and best practices for cleaning that encourage a healthy indoor setting and worker safety. While vaccines and medical therapies for the treatment of COVID-19 are still in progress, there are already successful disinfectant products and processes.

The resources available for this credit include video clips from a July 2020 Ask the Experts webinar, where insights are shared by Larissa Oaks, Indoor Environmental Quality Specialist, USGBC, and Steve Ashkin, Founder and President, The Ashkin Group LLC, as well as a video presentation from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum and podcasts interviews with Ashkin discussing the pilot credit further.

  1. Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning Credit
    The principal objective of this credit is to define standards and best practices for cleaning that foster a healthy indoor environment and worker safety and to help building teams reduce the risk of occupant exposure to impaired water quality.

The resources available for this credit include a video presentation from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum and a podcast interview with Daryn Cline, Director, Environmental Technologies at EVAPCO.

All four pilot credits listed in this article are available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 and can be found here.

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Business Sense: COVID-19 Crisis Conversations

Posted on 25 May 2020 by cradmin3

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

We Talked to 3 Countertop Shops During the COVID-19 Crisis

It’s a trying time right now for businesses deemed non-essential in certain areas. Some countertop shops seem to be doing just fine, while some shops across the globe are closing their doors until further notice.

We know the fear of the unknown can cause a lot of frustration and stress, so we hope to open the door to communication a bit by sharing what other shops have been going through since the pandemic swept the world.

A huge thank you to the three shops that participated in this article – please leave a comment down below and let us know how your shop is handling the COVID-19 crisis.

1. Paul Hughes at Bath Granite and Marble in the UK

Paul Hughes at Bath Granite and Marble in the UK explains that every business apart from essential services (food, medicine, delivery, medical services, etc.) are closed. 

“There are a few construction workers still operating, but essentially, the construction industry is at a standstill,” he says. While everyone is trying to stay positive, it’s the fear of the unknown that’s causing stress and fear.

Unfortunately, Paul’s factory is closed, and the factory staff is currently at home. His office staff is working from home where possible until further notice. 

“We’re focusing on putting our heads together to try and see a way forward,” he says. For example, they’re still marketing and promoting their company at this time.

“Basically, we are taking stock of the situation and planning carefully, meticulously looking at all aspects of the business in great detail,” he explains.

2. Geoffrey Gran at The Countertop Factory Midwest

Geoffrey Gran, Owner of The Countertop Factory Midwest, is located in Chicago, the 3rd largest city in the country. Illinois has been very aggressive with stay-at-home orders and has only allowed businesses deemed essential to remain open.

Thankfully, The Countertop Factory Midwest was fortunate to be considered essential and has remained open, but they could only work on projects where countertops – and plumbing – were not currently installed.

While Geoffrey has had to lay off employees, his customer mix of builders, box stores, commercial, dealers, and retail has helped ease the blow

“Certain segments like box stores and retail had huge sales drops while builders and commercial projects remained strong,” he explains.

COVID-19 has forced his operation to lay off staff, reduce hours, and focus on controlling expenses. Geoffrey and his staff have learned to live in a new normal where office and sales staff work from home and the production and field staff take extra precautions like wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times.

“We are conducting virtual sales appointments with customers to review their project, choose material/colors, and sign contracts,” Geoffrey says.

As the pandemic progresses, Geoffrey says he’s been able to hire back 25% of the staff that was originally laid off, and he’s expecting to continue bringing back more employees as the business ramps up.

This month, Illinois is allowing all construction projects to resume, and Geoffrey is hopeful this brings things back to normal.

3. Matt Nicks at StoneTrends

Matt Nicks at StoneTrends explains that in St. Louis, his business has been deemed essential as it supports construction in the state of Missouri.

Up to this point, Matt says he’s been very busy and his business has been doing fine. However, there may be stormy waters ahead.

“Our current workload, in most cases, was activated months prior to the outbreak,” he explains. 

Since Missouri has been enforcing a stay-at-home order since mid-March, Matt expects the limited capacity to have a severe impact on their production over the next few months.

“I guess we keep at it and hope things get back to some sort of normal soon,” he explains.

How Moraware Can Help During a Crisis

Paul explains that Moraware has really helped streamline his business over the last year. “We now have data immediately at our fingertips. Right now, we all can work remotely and still have access to Moraware,” he says.

Moraware’s software is currently helping Paul and his team report, manage, and plan for the future.  

For Geoffrey, The Countertop Factory Midwest has been able to adapt thanks to technology. “When Illinois went to shelter-at-home, we were literally able to have everyone work from home the next day since we are a fully digital company,” says Geoffrey.

All jobs are tracked within Moraware, so nothing needs to be printed, and staff can stay connected. 

“Moraware has allowed our entire company, spread out over hundreds of miles, to seamlessly communicate with each other, our customers and our vendors,” Geoffrey says.

Finally, Matt says he’s been using Moraware for about a year and a half, and he would never have been able to function in this climate without it.

Additional COVID-19 Resources

In order to help support your countertop shop, we’ve compiled essential COVID-19 resources for you. You can find more information on the following on our blog:

  • CARES Act Payroll Loan Program for Countertop Shops
  • CARES Act Tax Credit
  • CARES Act Emergency Grant
  • Cash Flow Relief
  • Paid Sick Leave Policy At Your Shop
  • Keeping Your Fabrication Staff Safe
  • Start Working From Home
  • Keep Your Fab Business Afloat
  • Take Care of Lingering Business Tasks

Thank you for reading, and stay safe!

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Coronavirus Resources

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U.S. Department of Labor Provides COVID-19 Resources

Posted on 26 March 2020 by cradmin

As we all continue to navigate the uncertainty brought on by the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Labor has launched a new website to make resources readily available for employers and workers amid the the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to coronavirus in the workplace.

Wages, Hours and Leave

The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and workers face when responding to COVID-19, including the effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities

NOTE: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance program regarding the rules in your state.

The Employment and Training Administration announced new guidance outlining state flexibilities in administering their unemployment insurance programs to assist Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where:

  • An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
  • An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.

In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.

Learn how to file for unemployment insurance benefits.

Support for Dislocated Workers and States

The Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of up to $100 million in National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants to help states, territories, and tribal governments respond to the workforce-related impacts of COVID-19.

Along with these resources the website also offers links to the latest news articles regarding labor issues caused by COVID-19.

We here at CountertopResource.com feel deeply for those who have been directly impacted by this outbreak and will endeavor to keep you informed, share ideas and provide resources to help you along the way. We wish you all well during this difficult time.

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