Green Rehabilitation of Elder Apartment Treatments (GREAT)

Project Funders: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Project Partners: University of Minnesota Center for Sustainable Building Research, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, Case Western Reserve University, Mankato Economic Development Authority

Project Contact: David E. Jacobs,, 443.539.4157

Project Description

The Green Rehabilitation of Elder Apartment Treatments (GREAT) study was one of the nation’s first examinations of the health outcomes among older Americans following rehabilitation using green healthy housing methods. While healthy housing has traditionally focused on childhood diseases and injuries associated with housing quality, the GREAT study asked whether improvements might also occur in the at-risk and growing population of elders.

The site, renovated to Enterprise Green Community standards and achieving LEED Silver certification, consisted of 101 independent living units at Orness Plaza, a low-income apartment building in Mankato, Minnesota. The study hypothesized that green healthy housing rehabilitation of public housing could improve the mental and physical health of residents. NCHH led evaluation activities, including the development of assessment protocols, data entry and analysis, execution of quality assurance activities, and completion of evaluation reports.

The green renovation (e.g., improved ventilation, moisture and mold reduction, and various safety measures) resulted in improved mental and general physical health, prevented falls, and reduced exposure to tobacco smoke.


Creating a Community Landmark (NCHH Case Study) [pdf; 2014]

Orness Plaza Fast Fact Sheet, June 2012 [url]

News Coverage of the GREAT Study [mov]

Orness Renovation Makes Residents Happier (Mankato Free Press, July 11, 2015) [url]

Abstract: Self-Reported Health Outcomes Associated with Green-Renovated Public Housing Among Primarily Elderly Residents. Breysse, J., Dixon, S., Jacobs, D. E., Lopez, J, Weber, W. (2015.) Journal of Public Health Management Practice, 21(4):355-367. DOI: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000199.


Latest page update: April 4, 2024.