‘Green’ buildings appear to boost health of low-income residents

Residents of low-income housing appear to get a boost in health from living in “green” buildings that are built with eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient features, according to a Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study.

The researchers, led by Meryl Colton of HSPH’s Department of Environmental Health in collaboration with the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), surveyed the health of people living in public housing units before and after they moved from conventional apartments into “green” ones. The researchers also did environmental sampling and home inspections. They found that improved ventilation and pest management systems in the green apartments appeared to boost indoor air quality and also lessened “sick building syndrome” symptoms such as headaches and itchy or burning eyes.

The study was published online June 18, 2014 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The study’s senior author was Gary Adamkiewicz, assistant professor of environmental health and exposure disparities in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH, who has worked for over a decade with Boston public housing officials on healthy home issues.

Read a Science Daily article: ‘Green buildings’ have potential to improve health of low-income housing residents

Read the abstract: Indoor Air Quality in Green vs. Conventional Multifamily Low-Income Housing