Boston Symphony Hall Hits a High Note with GBAC® STAR Facility Accreditation


Built in 1900, Boston Symphony Hall is widely considered one of the top concert halls in the world and is the first to be designed with the aid of modern acoustical science. Owned and operated by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), Symphony Hall was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark on October 13, 2000.

Due to the pandemic, the historic building closed March 11, 2020 and had to navigate adapting to new standards of improved industrial hygiene and air quality.

“Throughout the pandemic, public health and the transmission of germs have been primary concerns,” said Joseph Nichols, Director of Symphony Hall Facilities, Boston Symphony Orchestra. “We sought to implement a layered risk mitigation approach with cleanliness being a critical control measure.”


Through benchmarking with local arenas and speaking with industry experts in industrial hygiene, it became clear to BSO that obtaining GBAC STAR™ Facility Accreditation was vital. The accreditation program from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council™ (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, helps facilities of all sizes and types prepare for, respond to, and recover from biorisks like SARS- CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

In addition to GBAC STAR, BSO committed to the WELL Health- Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management, with which GBAC STAR is aligned. Of the 15 criteria required for the WELL certification, GBAC STAR accounts for five of the criteria.

“GBAC STAR was an attractive technique to communicate to the public the advanced cleaning methods being practiced at Symphony Hall,” added Nichols. “It was also a step along the critical path for obtaining WELL certification.”


GBAC STAR accreditation has enabled BSO to:

Establish and reinforce best practices that support reopening. GBAC STAR accreditation has helped BSO prepare to reopen Symphony Hall. As orchestra members, essential personnel, and the public use and visit the space, it was important to have a documented and structured approach to cleaning in place. According to Nichols, “The accreditation process helped provide a structured program with standards and best practices for cleaning and disinfection, including risk assessment, control measures, and cleaning schedules.” Additionally, GBAC STAR helped reinforce and strengthen the accountability of processes and practices already in place, such as internal audits, training, and signage.

Educate staff and the public. BSO must be able to clearly articulate the improvements and advanced cleaning techniques to staff and patrons. “GBAC STAR has been an important tool for communicating the control measures in place,” added Nichols. Working through the accreditation process also helped BSO enhance the housekeeping staff’s morale and reputation. The accreditation seal helps promote that building occupants are protected because of the diligent work of Symphony Hall’s cleaning staff.

Secure WELL certification. The WELL Health-Safety Rating includes more than 20 features and organizations must meet at least 15. Because GBAC STAR accreditation helps fulfill WELL certification criteria, this made it easier for BSO to secure yet another important designation.

“We plan to renew GBAC STAR accreditation annually because it is widely accepted as an industry standard for validating the cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention processes in buildings,” said Nichols. “Combined, GBAC STAR, WELL, and guidance from organizations like 9 Foundations are instrumental to Symphony Hall’s safe reopening and operation.”

For information about the 2021-22 BSO season, which opens on September 30, visit