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As challenging as the last year has been for Rachel Hodgdon and the International Well Building Institute, it has been just as rewarding.
“Like many organizations, IWBI experienced an unplanned operational shift in the early weeks of the pandemic,” said Hodgdon, the organization’s president and CEO. “In our case, we were able to pivot seamlessly because we had piloted overlapping remote work the summer of 2019 as an employee benefit. This gave us a welcome head start as we had worked out the kinks, so we didn’t miss a beat.”
It didn’t hurt that IWBI’s business is built on the fact that buildings, communities and organizations play an important role in supporting human health and well-being. With Hodgdon at the helm, in the early weeks of the pandemic, IWBI established its COVID-19 Task Force. Chaired by renowned experts and populated by hundreds of thought leaders and authorities from the realms of public health, medicine, design, real estate, government and academia, the task force was convened to inform new guidelines for post-COVID-19 activities.
The pandemic also led to the rapid launch of IWBI’s Well Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management in June 2020. Research-based and third-party verified, this rating was adapted as a response built out of IWBI’s Well Building Standard and codified the operational policies, maintenance protocols and design strategies.
“These are crucial to giving people the confidence they can get back to business safely,” Hodgdon said.
Under Hodgdon’s leadership, registration for the Well Health-Safety Rating has reached nearly 900 million square feet of real estate with almost two dozen sports venues, including Yankee Stadium.
In addition, IWBI announced its first celebrity-endorsed consumer campaign, with ambassadors that include Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Robert DeNiro and Michael B. Jordan.
Hodgdon also oversaw IWBI’s release of extensive guidance for sports venues’ reopening. The Well Advisory on Sports and Entertainment Venues addresses sector-specific challenges. “It includes experts from teams, leagues, facilities, service providers, plus actors and athletes keen to contribute their deep knowledge to address the challenges of operating large venues in a post COVID-19 world,” Hodgdon said. “It is designed to offer health and safety interventions that protect talent, staff and fans alike.”
There also has been a focus on inclusivity and diversity at IWBI, with more than two dozen features in Well v2 that support health equity. The Health Equity rating ensures everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
— Lisa White