Seizing Opportunity in Challenging Times
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Robert Hoshowsky | Construction in Focus
Thoroughly testing our resolve, the COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything many of us have ever endured. While the pandemic remains challenging, some companies are seizing the opportunity to help others weather the storm, including BCCI Construction.
Headquartered in San Francisco with regional offices in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, BCCI's reputation as a high-quality, full-service commercial builder spans over three decades.
Their team of professionals is experienced in many facets of commercial construction, including ground-up, seismic upgrades, building renovations, historic restorations, and tenant improvements. Additionally, beyond traditional general contracting services, BCCI's professional services group offers client advisory, program management, design-build, architecture, permit services, and sustainability consulting focused on the LEED, WELL, and Fitwel rating systems.
With the advent of COVID-19, BCCI instituted enhanced safety protocols and formed an internal C-19 task force to stay up to date on local, state, and federal health directives; monitor supply chain concerns; develop demobilization procedures in case of potential job site closures; manage internal and external communications; and maintain business operations. On March 17, 2020, the Bay Area became the first region in the U.S. to enact wide-spread shelter-in-place orders, which, as expected, included the shutdown of most construction sites.
Leading the way in safety
During the shelter-in-place, The C-19 taskforce gathered leading industry research and brought on Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) consultant EnviroNova to work with its safety, field operations, and office management teams to further develop its COVID-19 protocols and start planning its return to jobsites and offices. The team continued to monitor the local, county, state, and federal public health directives and COVID-19 guidance, including the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the WHO (World Health Organization), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure it was operating with the latest information.
BCCI was well prepared when commercial construction was deemed an essential business in the San Francisco Bay Area on May 4. "We had been preparing since the initial shelter-in-place orders in March, trying to find ways to operate safely," says Kena David, Director of Sustainability.
"We really worked hard up-front to stock up on all those materials that were important to providing a safe environment, such as PPE and cleaning supplies, and it definitely paid off," says BCCI Field Operations Manager Jim Williamson. When sanitation supplies became difficult to procure, the team at BCCI began making its own hand sanitizer in 55-gallon drums.
Months after Coronavirus first made the news, BCCI continues to build upon its robust safety protocols for its staff, subcontractors, clients, and vendors.
Describing the city's once-bust downtown as "a virtual ghost town," the San Francisco Business Times praised BCCI for both its ability to get back to work and for helping other companies with guidelines and other tools, enabling them to reopen their offices safely. Increased cleaning and sanitation, mask-wearing, physical distancing, and enhanced ventilation were all aspects of BCCI's return to jobsite and office plan. An analysis of ventilation systems and the placement of supplemental Wynd air purifiers in its offices has been key to reducing particles in the air that a virus could bond to. BCCI has recommended Wynd's stand-alone air purification systems to several clients as they have planned their safe return to the workplace.
"COVID-19 really was a catalyst to having health and wellness be seen as a necessity in the workplace.Kena David, Director, Sustainability, BCCI Construction
Many business owners have adopted some portions, if not all, of BCCI's safety protocols. "They really used ours as a baseline to expand upon," says Williamson.
Further emphasizing BCCI's commitment to safety pre-pandemic and heightened emphasis today, the company has been recognized with an Excellence in Safety Award from the Construction Employers' Association six years in a row and with a Platinum Safety Award from ConstructSecure.
While corporate interiors construction has slowed this year, the pandemic has brought about new commercial development project opportunities and a need for facility upgrades. Since there are fewer tenants in commercial buildings due to COVID-19 restrictions, building owners have been able to tackle capital improvement projects, which would be more challenging to undertake at full occupancy.
"Owners and developers are reaping the benefits of getting things done more efficiently and more cost-effectively without having to work around their tenants or have noisy work completed off-hours or on weekends," says Williamson.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on healthy buildings has shifted from th amenities provided onsite to the increased focus on ventilation, healthy materials, fitness incentives, health benefits, and wellness initiatives. Successfully completing over 70 LEED Certified projects and five WELL Certified projects, the company's experience in Sustainable Building is unsurpassed. BCCI remains an industry leader in building projects benefiting mind and body, including the offices the team calls home.
"COVID-19 really was a catalyst to having health and wellness be seen as a necessity in the workplace, rather than a 'nice to have,'" says David. This focus on health and wellness, coupled with energy-efficiency, is highly valued by many of BCCI's clients in the corporate office, healthcare, life sciences, mission critical, and hospitality market sectors.
The industry-leading rating systems around health and wellness in the built environment are responding to the pandemic and preparing for re-entry beyond COVID-19. Kena David participated in a task force established by the International WELL Building Institute on COVID-19 research, including how the virus spreads and how we can prepare all spaces for sustained health and safety. The outcomeof this IWBI task force was to ensure the new version of WELL (version 2) released in September this year included specific measures that help mitigate the spread of infectious disease within buildings. In efforts to make health and safety more achieveable for all building types, IWBI also launched the new WELL Health-Safety rating. "The intent is, a WELL Health-Safety rating demonstrates a building has been third-party verified to ensure health and safety through building operations and policies to protect occupants from emergency and health risks."
BCCI is also leveraging features from WELLv2 and ways to prevent transmission, focusing on air cleaning, sanitation, operational policies, and communication to occupants and employees.
"A lot of the protocols that we put in place here at BCCI for our office return are very much in-line with the WELL Health-Safety rating," says David, and the company is currently underway with the WELL re-certification of its headquarters. "We are also pursuing the WELL Health-Safety rating since we already had the protocols in place. That's been pretty exciting, and we think it will become a common thing for all types of buildings, whether you are a restaurant, stadium, or office building," she shares.
Moving forward, safely
As the world deals with COVID-19, award-winning BCCI Construction continues to be a leader for its employees, jobsites, and clients. Acknowledging many are nervous about returning to work — be it to a job site or an office — the team at BCCI has ensured that it's able to answer questions and address concerns quickly as they arise.
"Even though we are working within new safety guidelines and have limitations on the number of staff on-site due to physical distancing requirements, we are still able to be productive by operating with staggered starts and things like that," says Williamson. "We continue to work as efficiently as we can for ourselves, our subcontractors, and our clients. And we're able to provide the safest workplaces possible."
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