Green Buildings Hazardous to Health?

Green Buildings Hazardous to Health?

The buildings commonly referred to as “green” could actually be hazardous to your health, according to a new report.
That’s one of many warnings out of a new report from the Institute of Medicine](, which tracked the potential impact of climate change on indoor environments.

The report cautions that climate change can negatively and directly affect indoor air quality in several ways. But the scientists behind the study warn that homeowners and businesses could also be making the problem worse by pursuing untested or risky energy-efficiency upgrades.

“Even with the best intentions, indoor environmental quality issues may emerge with interventions that have not been sufficiently well screened for their effects on occupant safety and health,” the report said.

To save costs and cut down on emissions, building owners typically find ways to seal off potential leaks and conserve energy. But in “weatherizing” the buildings, they also change the indoor environment.

By making buildings more airtight, building owners could increase “indoor-air contaminant concentrations and indoor-air humidity,” the report said. By adding insulation, they could trigger moisture problems. By making improvements to older homes, crews could stir up hazardous material ranging from asbestos to harmful caulking – though that problem is not unique to energy improvements.

The report did not dissuade homeowners and businesses from making the energy-efficiency upgrades. Rather, it called for a more comprehensive approach, urging organizations to track the side effects of various upgrades and minimize the “unexpected exposures and health risks” that can arise from new materials and weatherization techniques.

I have been saying this for years.**

Well, that shows me that you’ve learned little about the newer and healthier building techniques…

I was working with this stuff (Canada’s R2000 system) in the early 1980’s as well as doing some research contracts involving homes after they were lived in…NO ONE said their or their family’s health had suffered…actually about 55-60% said their family’s health was actually better in the highly efficient home with a fully ducted HRV system; that’s one reason they chose to build an R2000 home!!!

Around 1995, the building/energy/IAQ principles of the the R2000 system were copied by the Minneapolis Lung Assoc after they visited an R2000 project subdivision in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Eventually R2000 technques/principles were added to/improved due to now working with a group of sick people (more stringent requirements of site, materials, techniques) as opposed to the general more healthy public. This has now evolved into the “Health House” program with some Lung Assoc regions. Joe Lstiburek of Building Science Corp was co-chair of the technical committee for this program.

Why would sick people be telling sick people to build airtight, energy-efficient homes if they did not work and actually made you sicker?

We also **know how to safely renovate older homes for energy efficiency. **If proper and extensive training is not somehow made mandatory, then a lot of problems may occur. It will be on the goverment’s and leaders of the building industry’s shoulders if this were to occur and become widespread!!


Have you become RESNET or BPI certified yet???

Have you taken any courses on “healthy home” building practices?

25+ years of house building and CMI does not give you this knowledge!!


Yep to much air sealing can be an issue. Thats why uneducated contractors and inspectors should refer to someone with the correct equipment and expertise to address these conditions. They should also be following the ASHRAE 62 or 62.2 minimum ventilation requirements.

I read an article with information from the Institute of Medicine](, and now you declare I am not qualified to agree with their findings?

Why make a simple article into a chance to show us your credential.?

Should they tell everyone who is not RESNET or BPI that they are forbidden to read the article? Should we filter all articles through you before we post them, since you hold yourself as the only one who is qualified to read them?

Green is the new Red i hear.

Don’t take it so personal John. You both have valid points but he should be sharing his information with you and not just knocking your post. It has been known for a long time that air changes in a house are important. It water is lingering around for a long time after a shower or cooking it’s true the house may be to tight. There are allot of things that can contribute to poor air quality and it’s not just “Green” building. Just last week here in Nevada a law was passed requiring people that want to do energy audits to be licensed by the state. It will fall under the same law as Home Inspectors. Weatherization contractors will have to be licensed here soon also. So it will hopefully make things better for the consumer.

Your quoted material from the article and responses/comments similar to your “I have been saying this for years.” eventually filters to the street level. This has set the “energy efficiency in housing” programs uptake back years. We knew how to do this stuff properly in the 1980’s and here we are going through it all again!

The first airtight R2000 homes I worked on in 1984-5-6 were actually way **over-ventilated **by fully ducted HRV systems…erring on the side of safety bigtime!! The ventilation requirements in houses here have been reduced 3-4 times without IAQ/health problems.

You used the article that says there “may” or “could” be problems to back up an unproven/ unresearched personal belief that energy-efficient homes must be unhealthy.

My belief is that sometimes health becomes an issue, not always.
It would be absurd for me or anyone to think **all **energy efficient
homes are unhealthy. Are you smoking crack?

Go sniff on some else’s rear end.

Ah!! From the Executive Director of Master Inspector Certification Board… Great example for public relations!

You will soon learn that I have no political phobias about making a good impression… :mrgreen:

Goodness!!! I was just thinking to myself a few days ago about how bad the thermal imaging section of the InterNachi forum was. It goes days and days sometimes without the first comment or new posting. It’s a VERY rare that I ever see more than 1-2 images a week if not every other week.

Well we atleast know what the cause is. There’s so much hatred amongst this group that most folks just stay away from us including us. Folks have read our disputes and they know they better become prepared for all out war should they want to offer an opinion.

If I had to do it over again than I might have stayed away myself. Once somebody starts to swinging on you than you have no choice but to swing back an from there it’s on like a chicken bone! You might as well stick around the beat down!

I personally would stay FAR more involved with this area because I enjoy it but I also enjoy not getting my *** ripped apart. I often think about posting random thermal imaging stuff about what I find interesting but realize it’s simply not worth the risk.

If you post something opinionated than you immediately have folks lining up wanting to know what rights you have to have an opinion. If its factual than folks are wondering what qualifications you have to post such true conditions as if your a teacher. If it’s a joke than folks completely miss the humor at a chance to bring up your lack of ethics and professionalism. If it’s a simple idea or thought, others want to know why in the hell you’d be posting such stuff without the facts to back it up. **ALL of these methods of posting have different short-run outcomes but 99.9% of everything posted has a default long-run outcome that will somehow or another divert back to John Mckenna ** Poor Dude!!!

Everybody who keeps up with this section is aware of what’s going on and so do the moderators. It seems like there would be some way to lay out some guidelines and enforcement’s. I realize Nick and Ben think a heated discussion can be a great learning opportunity but not when the whole thread is practically dead because of the non-stop heated discussions about the same ole BS over an over an over!

Why can’t the moderators simply retract postings that don’t contribute to learning? It doesn’t get much simpler, **in my opinion. **(not good) Shouldn’t moderators try an moderate an atmosphere that’s conductive to learning?

PS: I’m not trying to specifically point out any moderators as I don’t even know exactly who they all are. I’m just asking in a normal tone of voice(very friendly-like gesture on my face) if such moderation may ever be considered?


Good post, this is an open forum that my potential clients may see, and I sure don’t want them to think that I tolerate stupidity and intolerance. So I don’t post here often, but I do enjoy the positive and constructive thought process that is exhibited at this link…

It is for the professional individual…

Here are some comments from the above site about the article John must have read…

"This article came out on June 8 and deserves a response from DOE and some Home Energy Pros!
Green Buildings Hazardous to Health? Report Cites Risks of Weatherization](
This is the kind of fodder that gets people to debunk home energy efficiency improvements. It reminds me of the articles a few years ago bashing the Energy Star program because there may have been some errors in calculating efficiency…"
“Perhaps too eager to mock green, Fox gave the story an unfortunate slant by putting ASHRAE & BPI standards outside the frame”

"You can definitely cause more problems than you solve by implementing poorly planned changes to seal your envelope but it’s just frustrating to know that some people will read a report like this and use it as an excuse not to act at all.

I think a response from DOE on how following established standards and guidelines can prevent any negative impacts from an energy efficiency upgrade is warranted here. Maybe a comment on the importance of getting a certified professional to perform energy efficiency upgrades to avoid such problems."

"Why single out “Green” construction? As an Energy Star verifier, I look at many new homes, both in and out of the program. Without verification it is common to see attic baffles installed incorrectly and insulation missing in critical spaces for example, inviting not only poor performance but Ice damming in the winter, roof damage and mold. This is just one example. This isn’t a “green” problem.
In existing homes, it’s more likely that the ductwork is defective in some way than not. It’s not breaking news to find a supply duct disconnected causing the house pressure to go negative which sucks fumes in from the garage and under the house.
Or how many homes are built with no return air relief from the bedrooms which causes the core of the home to go negative just by closing the bedroom doors? This isn’t a “Green” problem. At least we in the green industry are aware that these are issues and know how to correct them."

Almost all homes where i find a HRV system
the Homeowner has previously disabled due to increased HVAC expense

With the R2000 homes, the energy costs were not the issue, it was the nosebleeds the kids had, shocks from doorknobs, etc. -30C (-22F) outdoor air at 90% RH is only about 5-6% RH when brought indoors and heated to 20C (68F). That air is as dry as desert air!!

I have seen a few airtight houses in which untrained owners add humidifiers to their HVAC systems to overcome the low humidities…they should’ve adjusted the ACH for the house downwards!

A bit late to go now but…

Healthy Housing Connections Conference Edition

The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) is a proud participant in the 2011 National Healthy Homes Conference, the preeminent conference on healthy homes. The conference presents a unique opportunity for a wide spectrum of health, housing, and environmental stakeholders to unite under one roof to strategize about policies and programs for creating safer and healthier homes and communities.

This special edition of Healthy Housing Connections provides the highlights of NCHH events and sessions at the conference. Please visit the NCHH Booth, #503 to meet staff members, pick up a copy of our Annual Report, and learn about the work NCHH is doing in support of healthy housing.

We look forward to seeing you there!

2011 National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition Awards Event and Reception
Don’t miss the inaugural **National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition Awards Event and Reception **being held Tuesday, **5:30 pm-7:30 pm **at the Sheraton Denver in the Governor’s Square 15 room. During the event, the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition will announce first annual awards for those who have made a significant contribution to the healthy homes movement during the past year. In addition, NCHH will announce the winners of its first round of Grassroots Advocacy Network grant awards.

National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition Awards
The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition, nominated 19 individuals and organizations from a variety of sectors (housing, public health, energy efficiency, environment and community development). The nominees have made extraordinary contributions to the healthy homes movement through their efforts focusing on those whom are disproportionately impacted by unhealthy housing conditions, including low-income families and individuals, people of color, children, and older adults.

Organization nominees are:

  • The Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo (NY)
  • The Healthy Homes Partnership - an interagency agreement between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Healthy Homes and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
  • The Multnomah County Health Department (OR)
  • Sustainable Resources Center (MN)
  • Thundermist Health Center (RI)
  • The West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (RI)

Individual nominees are:

  • Cory Booker, Mayor, Newark (NJ)
  • Dana Bourland, Enterprise Community Partners, Green Communities Initiative
  • Senator Brenda Council (NE)
  • Dr. Nancy Crider, DrPH, RN, Program Manager, University of Texas School of Public Health, Texas Public Health Training Center
  • David Fukuzawa, The Kresge Foundation
  • Rick Goodeman, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership
  • Paul Haan, Executive Director, Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, Grand Rapids
  • Kathleen Hogan, Department of Energy
  • Betsy Mokrzycki, Lead Program Manager and Member Advisory Council on Lead Poisoning Prevention, Syracuse (NY)
  • Rebecca Morley, Executive Director, National Center for Healthy Housing
  • Gary Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Rebuilding Together, Inc.
  • Dr. Brenda Reyes, MD, MPH, Bureau Chief of the City of Houston Children’s and Community Environmental Health
  • Courtney Wisinski, Healthy Homes University

Please visit National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition to learn more or join!

Grassroots Advocacy Network for Healthy Housing Grants
With the support of The Kresge Foundation, NCHH is expanding and “scaling up” its efforts to eradicate unhealthy living conditions through a new initiative called the Grassroots Advocacy Network for Healthy Housing. The Grassroots Advocacy Network will develop local solutions to the challenging problem of substandard housing and neighborhoods.

NCHH will announce the winners of its first round of subgrants to grassroots advocacy organizations to carry out activities such as the following:

  • Creating local demand for healthy housing through media outreach, policy advocacy, community meetings, and other activities;
  • Educating policymakers and the public about unhealthy conditions;
  • Holding public agencies accountable (e.g. to ensure that local housing maintenance codes are enforced);
  • Creating and sustaining valuable collaboration between the public and private sectors and within government; and
  • Other methods most appropriate to the local context.

Please visit the Grassroots Advocacy Network for Healthy Housing to learn more.

Conference Sessions
Below is a list of educational sessions in which NCHH staff will be leading, moderating, or participating:

**On Monday, June 20: **

  • 1:00-2:30 pm Federal Healthy Homes Legislation and Policy; led by Ruth Lindberg, Jane Malone and Amy McLean Salls – Room 108
  • 1:00-2:30 pm Windows and Exterior Sources of Lead: Emerging Evidence about these Potential Hazards and Methods of Control; led by Jonathan Wilson and David Jacobs – Room 702
  • 3:00-4:00 pm Integrating Energy/Plus Health into Volunteer Home Repair Programs; led by Don Ryan,( A. Walz, M. Welch, and A. Gagney) – Room 108
  • 3:00-4:00 pm How Much is too Much to Wheeze?: Laboratory and Field Research to Develop Standardized Allergen Sampling Protocol; led by Sherry Dixon – Room 702
  • 3:00-5:00 pm Local and State Housing Codes and Healthy Housing Policy; led by Jane Malone (and D. Farquhar) – Room 113
  • 3:00-5:00 pm Public Health in Housing and Community Development; led by Ruth Lindberg (and Amy Murphy) – Room 111
  • 4:15-5:15 pm Burdens of Home Injury and Death: Associated Costs and Benefits of Interventions; moderated by Jonathan Wilson – Room 702
  • 4:15-5:15 pm *Green, More than a Color?: Research on the Potential Benefits of Green Housing on the Indoor Environment and Health (Wheeler Terrace); *led by Susan Aceti – Room 704/706

On Tuesday, June 21:

  • 1:00-2:30 pm Lessons Learned from Integration of Healthy Homes into Energy Conservation Program: Studying the Impact of Home Energy Work on Resident Health; led by Jill Breysse – Room 709
  • 1:00-2:30 pm Beyond Delegation and Education: Local Leveraging of HUD’s Renovation, Remodeling and Painting Rule; led by Jane Malone and (D. Farquhar, R. Scott, and K. Korfmacher) – Room 110/112
  • 1:00-2:30 pm Neighborhood and Residential Factors Predicting Children’s Lead Poisoning and Asthma; moderated by Jonathan Wilson – Room 111
  • 3:00-5:00 pm Healthy Homes Education – Local to Institutional, Part I; panel participant Susan Aceti – Room 111
  • 3:00-4:00 pm Developing and Using Evidence for Healthy Communities; led by Ruth Lindberg – Room 102/104

On Wednesday, June 22:

  • 1:30-3:30 pm The ABCs of Integrated Pest Management in Low Income Housing: Allergens, Baits, and Cockroach Mitigation Strategies; led by Jane Malone, M. Sever, and C. Schal – Room 205
  • 4:00-5:00 pm Building Capacity to Prevent Lead Hazards: Evaluation Tools and Training that Make a Difference; led by Jane Malone and S. Viet – Room 607

Healthy and Safe Homes: Research, Practice, and Policy
Stop by our exhibit booth (#503) to purchase a copy of Healthy and Safe Homes: Research, Practice, and Policy. The newly released booked explores connections between housing conditions and health, and proposes holistic, sustainable strategies for making healthy housing a reality for people of all income levels.

Co-edited by NCHH Executive Director Rebecca Morley, MSPP, Angela Mickalide, PhD, CHES, Safe Kids Worldwide, and Karin Mack, PhD, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the book draws perspectives from leading scientists, public health experts, housing advocates and policy leaders. The book’s 10 chapters, written by nineteen of the nation’s leading experts in the area of healthy and safe homes, explain the connections between housing conditions and health, and offers practical tools and information for public health and housing practitioners and policy makers.

Healthy and Safe Homes: Research, Practice, and Policy is published by American Public Health Association (APHA) Press. The book is available at our booth at the special conference price of $32.00.

Be sure to follow NCHH on Twitter!

10320 Little Patuxent Pkwy | Columbia, MD 21044 US

The only thing I am not allergic to is work and money!

For your location…Truly energy-efficient, airtight healthy homes with a well designed passive solar aspect are the future then!! Look at other solar add-ons when cost/benefits are really in the consumer’s interest for relatively short term paybacks.