253587 Health co-benefits of energy-efficient and climate-friendly housing: Global evidence review and experiences from the field

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:50 AM

David E. Jacobs, PhD , National Center for Healthy Housing, Columbia, MD
There is a growing body of evidence identifying how investments in low-energy, "naturally ventilated" homes can yield significant health benefits. In developed countries, the immediate health benefits arising from reduced risks of certain non-communicable respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies, may far outweigh those of carbon gains in today's economic terms. This illustrates how short-term health objectives can help drive and justify more environmentally sustainable policies long term.

"Housing and health" is a longstanding, traditional public health concern. However, health goals have not been systematically articulated and integrated in the context of policies for more energy-efficient, climate-friendly housing. Health-oriented research often fails to address issues in the terms that are typically used by architects, engineers, housing providers and financial institutions, while mitigation-oriented research often fails to address specific health issues. This interdisciplinary study involving experts in health, engineering and design aspects of housing helps bridge that critical gap, and allows health policymakers to take a more proactive role in the design of housing policies. A second stage in this undertaking is the development of new WHO "housing and health guidelines".

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how available epidemiological and intervention literature on "housing and health" support investments in climate friendly and energy efficient housing, which in turn supports improved health. Analyze the comparative health gains (or risks) that may arise from alternative strategies for climate change mitigation and low-carbon housing development.

Keywords: Housing, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct one of the nation's leading research programs on the connection between housing and health. I have numerous publications in the field and have testified before Congress on several occasions. I am the principal author of the Report to Congress that launch the healthy homes program in the U.S. and am the former Director of the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.