News

Arup’s Ken Fong appointed to global COVID-19 buildings task force

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
15 May 2020

Arup Australasia’s Ken Fong is working with international experts to help the building industry manage the implications and aftermath of the coronavirus.

Ken has joined leaders from public health, medicine, government, academia, design and property on a special Task Force on COVID-19 established by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

The group is collaborating on how to protect health through building design and operations, as well as organisational policies and practices.

Those of us working in the built environment need to start embracing our roles as agents of public health. We have a significant role in shaping the health outcomes of millions of people through how we design healthy spaces. ”

Ken-Yi Fong Ken Fong Senior Acoustic and WELL Consultant

The Task Force on COVID-19 will prepare new Guidelines for Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery as well as enhancements to the WELL Building Standard which is used in more than 4,100 projects across 59 countries.

Ken is an award-winning WELL Accredited Professional and a member of the prestigious WELL Faculty which provides education to the industry in how to transform communities, buildings and the built environment by incorporating healthy design principles. In 2019 he sat on the global IWBI Industrial Sector Advisory and currently sits on the global IWBI Sound Advisory.

He said COVID-19 is shifting perceptions about how the buildings in which people work, live and visit impact health, while awareness around preventative health measures (such as handwashing and social distancing) has never been higher. Ken said this heightened awareness, while currently centred around infectious diseases, will inevitably carry into awareness around chronic health conditions. 

“I am passionate about influencing healthy building practices so that public health outcomes are shifted and the trend of increasing chronic diseases is slowly reversed. I see buildings and space as the frontline mechanism to achieve that. Buildings also have a critical role in mitigating the spread of infectious diseases,” he said.

Finola Reid and Ken Fong (centre) receive the Platinum WELL Certification for Arup's Melbourne Workplace from the International WELL Building Institute's Jack Noonan and Rachel Gutter Finola Reid and Ken Fong (centre) receive the Platinum WELL Certification for Arup's Melbourne Workplace from the International WELL Building Institute's Jack Noonan and Rachel Gutter
Finola Reid and Ken Fong (centre) receive the Platinum WELL Certification for Arup's Melbourne Workplace from the International WELL Building Institute's Jack Noonan and Rachel Gutter, November 2019

Ken has been the Wellness Design Lead for Olderfleet, a new multi-storey building in Melbourne, which was the first WELL Precertified Platinum Core & Shell (the highest rating available) project in Australia. He had the same role for the Arup Melbourne Office, one of the first projects in the world to be WELL Certified Platinum under the WELL v2 pilot.

Three other Arup people were invited to join the Task Force: Ben Stortz from New York, Luke Stewart from Dublin and Mei-Yee Man Oram from London.

IWBI President Rachel Gutter said the Task Force was focussed on the importance of moving quickly to translate actionable strategies into practice.

 

The public health professionals at the table remind us that there is no time to waste. ” Rachel Gutter IWBI President

WELL is the premier building certification programme focussed on enhancing people’s health and wellness. It centres arounds ten categories of building and organisational performance – air, water, light, movement, materials, thermal comfort, sound, nourishment, mind and community. WELL is grounded in research that explores the connection between the buildings where people spend much of their time, and their health and wellness.