Healthy Homes - New Research Leading to Potential Partnerships

By: Joe Cullen, Director of Policy & State Outreach

Home performance contractors already know that energy efficiency retrofits can improve indoor environments, air quality and health outcomes, such as asthma, COPD, and other chronic respiratory conditions. That’s why the Building Performance Association and its allies are excited about a terrific new policy tool - the Energy-Plus-Health Playbook that was just released this month.

"Prescribing" Retrofits

The Playbook describes how home performance contractors are already working with hospitals, Medicaid providers, housing agencies, insurance companies and other third parties to “prescribe” home retrofits for better health results. This new research describes how a well-designed “Energy-Plus-Health program” can unlock new value streams for the energy efficiency industry. Already, states like Missouri, Maryland, and New York are reforming their rules to allow for Medicaid payments for in-home assessments leading to home retrofits. These new “healthy home” Medicaid programs have the potential for achieving improved health results for patients while allowing Medicaid providers to avoid high rehospitalization costs at the same time.

Even more important, the Energy-Plus-Health Playbook identifies a wide variety of potential partnerships between home performance contractors, health care providers and third party funders (such as hospitals, insurance companies, local governments, utilities and housing agencies). Contractors know that “healthy home” retrofits provide enormous benefits for families with respiratory conditions. The Playbook provides lessons on how innovative program designers are developing creative ways to finance and execute residential retrofit programs targeted towards patients and families that might benefit the most.

Healthy Homes Partnerships

We serve as the trade association for contractors, businesses and industries that believe energy efficiency is the quickest, cleanest and least expensive way to reduce energy consumption while creating local jobs and providing health and comfort benefits to consumers. One of our founding policy principles is to “advance healthy homes.” We will continue to work with local contractor organizations such as the Vermont HEAT Squad and their partners such as the Rutland VT Regional Medical Center to support new “healthy homes” collaborations and programs.

We believe that potential partnerships and collaborations on healthy homes are available in every state. We look forward to working with local contractors to identify those opportunities. We thank the authors of the Playbook at VEIC and Efficiency Vermont for providing the research and describing the models that could help make “healthy homes” partnerships happen in each state in the future.

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Comment by Franco Oyuela on August 5, 2019 at 4:33pm

Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?

The Environmental Protection Agency lists Indoor Air Quality among the top 5 risks to human health, probably because indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. While homeowners can’t see the majority of indoor air contaminants, every cubic foot of air breathed carries a mixture of millions of microscopic particles such as pollen, mold spores and dust mite debris. In small concentrations, these particles and gasses may cause discomfort in the home. In significant concentrations, they can cause sickness as these are among the most troublesome triggers of such ailments as asthma and allergies.

Make Yours A Healthy Home.

Filter or neutralize particulates found in indoor air. Air cleaners installed just ahead of the heating and cooling equipment remove a portion of airborne pollutants each time air is pulled into the return air ducts.

Proper humidification levels are equally important in both hot and cold environments. This is needed to control relative humidity levels in the home, minimizing unhealthy airborne pollutants. Too little humidity leaves the body vulnerable to infections, and can cause damage to the home’s wood furnishings. Inversely, too much humidity creates ideal breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and dust mites.

Eliminate air pollutants before they enter the home. For example, by not allowing people to smoke or have pets in the home, homeowners practice source control. Such examples are not always practical. Installing Ultra-Violet Treatment Systems help stop the problem before they start. By sterilizing pathogens with UV Treatment Systems, homeowners deter such harmful contaminants as mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses from forming.

Indoor Air Quality add-ons for your air conditioning and heating system can make your home a dramatically healthier place for you and your family by filtering the air, controlling humidity, and cycling fresh outdoor air into the home.These add-ons can help reduce allergies, prevent asthma, and even boost productivity.


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