An Evaluation of Green Housing Rehabilitation in Minnesota

Project Funders: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Enterprise Community Partners

Project Partners: NCHH’s partners in the project included Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research, Minnesota Green Communities, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, the Family Housing Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, and Enterprise Social Investment Corporation.

Project Contact: Jill Breysse, jbreysse@nchh.org, 443.539.4155

Project Description: This project was a longitudinal evaluation of how building green and healthy affected the health status of adults and children who resided in homes that had recently been renovated to green and healthy standards. Evaluation measures included a combination of air quality measures, interviews, and visual assessments. Health status measures included residents’ self-reports of health and well-being, asthma and other respiratory effects, injuries, allergies, neurological effects (e.g., headaches), mental health, and overall perception of health status. The project included substantial rehabilitation of 60 apartment units in the rural community of Worthington, Minnesota, to meet the Enterprise Green Communities criteria. The green features included:

  • Installation of a high-efficiency geothermal heating and cooling system;
  • Enhanced insulation of the building envelope;
  • Energy Star appliances;
  • Energy-efficient lighting and occupancy sensor controls;
  • Water-conserving appliances and fixtures;
  • Improved ventilation, including continuous ventilation of bathrooms and fresh air;
  • Low-VOC paints, sealants, and adhesives;
  • Interior finish materials using recycled content; and
  • Onsite recycling of demolition and construction materials.

We found significant health improvements following low-income housing renovation that complied with green standards. All green building standards should include health requirements. Collaboration of housing, public health, and environmental health professionals through integrated design holds promise for improved health, quality of life, building operation, and energy conservation.

Resources:

Health Outcomes and Green Renovation of Affordable Housing [pdf; Public Health Reports, 2011]

Viking Terrace – Advent of a Green Community [pdf]

Read Viking Terrace Resident Abang Ojullu’s Success Story [pdf]

Photos from the November Kickoff Event [pdf]