Green and Healthy Homes

Authors: ladan I recently attended an inspiring two-day convening in Baltimore of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a project of the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. The concept behind GHHI is simple: If someone is making energy-efficiency improvements to her home, why not make health-and-safety improvements at the same time? I got to see this approach in action during a bus tour of Baltimore homes that have undergone the GHHI intervention. Our first stop was at the Young family home. Prior to the GHHI intervention, nine-year-old DeWayne Young had been hospitalized multiple times due to asthma; he had developed pneumonia twice after the home’s furnace broke down. His doctor referred the family to the Safe at Home Program, which combined funding and services of the Weatherization Assistance Program, HUD, philanthropy and others to provide a GHHI retrofit. The retrofit began with a comprehensive audit. A month later, DeWayne's home was safe, healthy, and energy efficient. Here are some of the improvements they made:
  • They sealed the house to keep pests out and warm air in.
  • They eliminated mold with vents in the kitchen and bathroom and a dehumidifier in the basement.
  • They insulated the attic and painted the roof white, keeping the home warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
  • They replaced their old lead-based windows with new, energy-efficient windows.
  • They stabilized the paint in their home to reduce the risk of childhood lead poisoning.
  • They have eliminated the major asthma triggers that had sent DeWayne to the hospital so many times by getting a HEPA vacuum, impermeable bed & pillow covers, a HEPA air filter, and rehabilitated hardwood floors in place of their old carpet.
Without GHHI, the Young family would have had to go through numerous separate agencies, with more paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles, to get these improvements. Instead, GHHI made these improvement and more — and DeWayne has not had any asthma-related hospitalizations since, while his family has been saving hundreds of dollars on their energy bills. As the mother of a six-year-old who spent three days in the hospital last month for a severe asthma attack, GHHI's work and message really hit home. Making our homes safe, healthy, and efficient is one of the most important things we can do for American families.

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