Healthy Housing Building Codes

See also: Find and Compare State and Local Codes.

Housing codes govern the construction and maintenance of our homes, but many only provide minimal safety requirements. As more is learned about the critical impact of housing quality, communities are taking action to ensure codes and local code enforcement protect ‎–  and improve ‎– health.

Below are critical resources about housing codes and tools for improving them.

International Code Council (ICC)
Many states and jurisdictions adopt international code(s) (I-Codes) from the family of codes created by the ICC and supplement them with additional codes and standards in order to address local priorities. Although I-Codes are updated every three years, not all states and local jurisdictions have a mechanism in place to automatically update their local codes to the most updated version. [url; ICC]

National Healthy Housing Standard
The National Healthy Housing Standard is a set of science-based minimum performance standards created by the American Public Health Association and NCHH for safe and healthy homes. The Standard features healthy home requirements and stretch provisions in seven key categories, with explanations for each provision about its public health rationale, along with references for more information. It integrates public health information into housing code parlance. The Standard is a tool for property owners, elected officials, code staff, and anyone concerned about housing’s interaction with health. [url; NCHH, 2014]

Up to Code: Code Enforcement Strategies for Healthy Housing
This guide outlines practices and strategies to improve code enforcement policies that support healthy housing, including specific examples of code enforcement programs and community resources. [pdf; ChangeLab Solutions]

Energy Efficiency

Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP)
BCAP provides a huge cache of resources related to residential (and commercial) energy and building codes useful to policy makers, housing, health and energy efficiency professionals, and the public. Their resources include a listing of state energy codes, concerns about existing codes, code enforcement, policy tool kits, guidance on building codes to meet local needs, and much more. [url; BCAP]

ICF Comparison of Cost-Effectiveness of Residential Energy Codes
ICF International prepared this study of building energy codes using three different cost-effectiveness models (life-cycle cost, simple payback, and mortgage cash flow). [pdf; BCAP, 2015]

Green Building

Green building codes go beyond minimum code requirements to improve health, achieve higher levels of energy efficiency, and reduce negative environmental impacts. Several organizations have developed green building standards and criteria which have been adopted by local states and jurisdictions to improve healthy and energy efficiency.

Model Green and Advanced Codes
This is a treasure trove of information on model green codes, as well as “advance” or “stretch” codes that are pushing to create energy efficient, healthier, and more environmentally friendly buildings. It’s a great resource for policy makers, housing and health professionals and advocates, and the private sector to learn more about how and where codes are going in the future to address climate change and resilience. [url; BCAP]

Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) Criteria
Enterprise Community Partners is a national intermediary supporting preservation and development of affordable housing. The EGC Criteria is specifically geared toward affordable housing development and rehabilitation and features specific criteria to support healthy housing. [url; Enterprise Community Partners, 2015]

U.S. Green Building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
This page details information on USGBC’s LEED for Homes V4, including specific healthy home requirements, such as indoor air quality provisions. It also provides resources with information about green code adoption and advocacy. [url; U.S. Green Building Council]


Latest page update: February 26, 2024.