Housing and Energy Attributes Linked To Health through Retrofits (HEALTH-R)

Project Funders: Private foundation support.

Project Partner: Ecobeco, LLC

Project Contact: Jonathan Wilson, jwilson@nchh.org, 443.539.4162

What we’re studying: The effect of enhanced ventilation systems and energy efficiency on indoor air quality and occupant health.

Why it matters: Prior studies have offered evidence that increased ventilation can improve the respiratory health of residents. This project examines whether a specific package of ventilation measures should be offered to energy efficiency clients to improve the quality of life of residents with asthma.

What we found: The results will be available in early 2018.

Project Description: Despite strong evidence that home performance strategies improve health outcomes in the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, little research has been done in market rate homes in this country. The HEALTH-R (Housing and Energy Attributes Linked To Health through Retrofits) study examined the effects of a package* of energy efficiency measures and other mechanical additions (ventilation, dehumidification, humidification) targeted to improve resident health. The study enrolled nine households that had a child with not-well-controlled asthma in Maryland, plus three comparison homes. In 2016-17, the research team observed the home environment and the child’s asthma status before work and then four times for a year after work. Health measures include general health, asthma symptoms and control, use of asthma medications, and use of healthcare services for asthma. Environmental factors included particulate matter, formaldehyde, other volatile organic compounds, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and dust allergens. The researchers also examined temperature/humidity and housing conditions (e.g., water leaks, pests/pest control, smoking). Building tightness and air exchange were measured before and after work. The research team recognized that a study of this size would be unlikely to generate definitive conclusions. However, we felt this pilot could test the premise that these services would improve indoor environmental quality and asthma symptoms, and reduce the need for emergency healthcare services and “rescue” medicines for asthma.

 

*More information about the services provided and the sponsors of those services can be found at healthyhomestudy.com.