Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

"Green Building" and "Healthy Housing": Still Not Quite Synonyms

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

"Green Building" and "Healthy Housing": Still Not Quite Synonyms

Article excerpt

Health departments should be at the table when city or state planning offices are adopting "green" ordinances or voluntary programs, according to Rebecca Morley of the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). When green building programs do consider public health, they tend to focus on issues like off-gassing, "which aren't bad," she said, "but probably aren't where you're going to get the most public health bang for your investment." Administrators of such programs may not even be aware of other health issues they could influence. They tend to be thinking about ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions or save on energy costs.

"But I believe the recipients of the residences, when they choose to buy green or move into green, are thinking about health issues," she said.

And that consumer interest can matter quite a bit to builders, giving health issues real leverage.

When health department personnel sit down with planners, Morley suggests they emphasize four measures: radon mitigation, integrated pest management, ventilation, and moisture management.

Radon mitigation is particularly efficient because in addition to reducing radon exposure, it potentially mitigates other soil gasses too. And it reduces moisture in basements--an important advantage for anyone who wants to construct durable homes. In new construction, Morley pointed out, radon mitigation costs only $300 to $500. …

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