“Spend more time outside. Since April, we’ve learned a lot about indoor versus outdoor transmission of the coronavirus. Early on, we closed parks and told people to stay inside their homes. But studies have since shown that being outdoors with appropriate distancing carries a lower risk of getting the infection than being indoors.” - Dr. Marty Makary, surgeon and professor of health policy at the John Hopkins School of Public Health in How to Reopen America Safely
The impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come—on the economy, on people and on our way of life. Remaining resilient—both in business and in life—will require every industry and individual to adapt at a pace we might never have thought possible. In response to COVID-19, USGBC and GBCI have outlined a series of actions and priorities that will support a global recovery effort and leverage the power of our community to shape a healthier future for all.
The SITES community knows that nature and sustainable strategies generate ecosystem services that protect and improve a community’s resiliency and quality of life. Accordingly, accessibility, safety and wayfinding; equitable site use and support for mental restoration, physical activity and social connection are already central to the SITES Rating System.
In response to the current pandemic and in line with USGBC’s global economic recovery strategy, SITES is developing ways to make health and safety an even stronger priority for a smart, equitable and sustainable recovery. Our first step is the introduction of the SITES Safety First Pilot Credit, which was announced earlier today and is intended to promote best practice requirements in operations and management of landscapes, parks and other outdoor spaces to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19. USGBC President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam will discuss this pilot credit and his vision for the SITES Rating System at the upcoming SITES Town Hall on July 29th. Register to attend the SITES Town Hall.
Now, as “the recovery will happen in public space,” our collective challenge is to support access to parks and other outdoor spaces that encourage physical distancing and other COVID-19 safe practices. Fortunately, our community is resilient, resourceful and hard at work managing access to outdoor spaces for all of us to enjoy. See below for some of their work.
Tools for reopening and staying open
- National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) - Path to Recovery
- NRPA - Assessing the Risk of Spaces, Facilities and Programs
- CDC - Parks and Recreational Facilities
- CDC - Guidance for Administrators in Parks and Recreational Facilities
- National Forest Service - Guidance for Use of NFS lands including the Operation of Recreation Sites and Services
- National Parks Service - COVID-19 Safety and Social Distancing Graphics
- Pennsylvania Parks and Recreation Society (PRPS) - Recreation & Park Management Guidance
- ULI Confronting COVID-19 - Maintaining and Managing Parks and Open Space under Quarantine
Social equity and parks
- NRPA - Social Equity and Parks and Recreation | Position Statement
- Project for Public Spaces - Equitable Development During & After COVID-19: Five Takeaways
- Prevention Institute - Why we need park equity
- The Atlantic - Five Ways to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive
Signage promoting physical distancing
Signage for users during the COVID-19 Pandemic is a creative opportunity embraced by parks and opens space managers across the globe. Find additional examples here.
Thought leadership on public spaces and the COVID-19 pandemic
- Joint Statement on Using Parks and Open Space While Maintaining Physical Distancing
- NRPA Statement on COVID-19 and Health Equity
- Our Parks and Greenspaces Matter More Than Ever
- The Journal of Public Space Public Health and Well-being in Public Open Spaces through Climate Responsive Urban Planning and Design
- Project for Public Spaces The recovery will happen in public space
- VOX How to make a city livable during lockdown
- CityLab Amid Protest and Pandemic, Urban Parks Show Their Worth
- HR&A Advisors How Will the COVID-19 Crisis Shape the Future of Urban Parks?
As more information is available, we expect to expand and refine the resources on this page with the best recommendations for precautionary measures in managing and visiting parks and outdoor spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have questions on how to navigate certification amongst these unexpected circumstances, GBCI has created guidelines for some of the most frequently asked customer questions.