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Health Considerations for Renovation Assessment, Specifications, and Program Development. Tiffani Irwin Habitat for Humanity International Partners in Sustainable Building. Janet McIlvaine Florida Solar Energy Center/UCF US DOE Building America Program. Agenda. Introductions

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Health Considerations for Renovation Assessment, Specifications, and Program Development


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  1. Health Considerations for Renovation Assessment, Specifications, and Program Development Tiffani Irwin Habitat for Humanity International Partners in Sustainable Building Janet McIlvaine Florida Solar Energy Center/UCF US DOE Building America Program

  2. Agenda • Introductions • Shared Priorities • Based on best practices • Safe, healthy, durable, efficient, accessible – occupancy and funding stream • Whole house approach • What is an assessment? Why is it important? How is it achieved? • Share tools: assessment, repair & rehab right, sws’s • Statistics from the field • Common conditions • Prevalence of efficiency strategies • Health concerns – first, do no harm - Building science dynamics • Share links to professionals for hazardous materials • Best practices • Upfront measures – before you begin • Appropriate insurance coverage • Never go alone • Safety i.e. personal co detectors, professionals when appropriate • Building practices • Standardized Approach • Installation and QA guidelines • verification • Retrofit challenge initiative • Summary – acknowledge sustainably • No home more sustainable home than the existing home – Janet’s soapbox • Sustainable homeownership • Sustainable health, welfare, quality of life for occupants • Experiences from our histories

  3. Tiffani Irwin • Habitat for Humanity International • Manager, Partners in Sustainable Building • Affordable Housing Provider • Janet McIlvaine • Research Analyst, Florida Solar Energy Center • US DOE Building America program • Building Science for Housing Industry

  4. 2 Perspectives on Housing Rehab • HFHI Repair Corp • House Assessment • Selecting What to Address • Working Safely • [Insert website] • US DOE Building America Retrofit Challenge • Standardized best practices • Built-in health related measures • Codifying the “Whole House Approach” • www.ba-pirc.org/retrofit

  5. Habitat and the Existing House MISSION: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Janet, can you make a graph for me, showing The line for new vs line for existing over these 4 years? 2008 new 5017 existing 1150 total 6167 2009 4584 existing 1484 total 6068 2010 4379 existing 2328 total 6707 2011 4800 4523 total 9323 2012 3951 5100 total 9051 2013 3598 6276 total 9874

  6. Building America & Existing HousesConstruction Industry + Building ScientistsReal Houses. Real Improvement.

  7. Habitat & Building America Alignment • Shared Priorities • Health & Safety (Before, during, after rehab) • Durability • Energy Efficiency • Accessibility (HFHI) • Occupancy and funding stream • Comfort (Building America) • Uncomfortable, uniformed people will take action – not pretty!

  8. “Whole Building Approach” Everything Works (or doesn’t!) Together Image: Conservation Services Group

  9. A Whole-House Assessment is a full evaluation of each of the systems within the home. The information is most useful when related the experiences of the residents of the home regarding comfort, affordability and durability. Potential Partners The homeowner Home Inspectors Code Enforcement Energy Raters BPI Analysts Weatherization agencies Experienced Contractors www.buildingamerica.govwww.BA-PIRC.org www.energystar.gov

  10. Habitat Assessment Worksheet

  11. Online Tools at Your Disposal Repair and Rehab Right http://www.fas.org/rehabright

  12. Online Tools at Your Disposal Standard Workforce Specifications by US DOE – “How To” Guidance https://sws.nrel.gov/

  13. The Importance of Being Earnest • Inspect For • Hazardous Materials • Lead • Asbestos • Mold • Radon • Combustion Issues • Gas appliances • Back drafting • Carbon monoxide • Ventilation Strategies • Moisture/decay • Electrical hazards • Plumbing leaks

  14. First, do no Harm! • First Priority: • Health and Safety of the Occupants! • Remove, Reduce, Remediate • Indoor Air Quality • Mobility and Accessibility features • Potential hazards (i.e. improper wiring) • Once Health and Safety Issues are Identified and addressed: • Durability • Energy Efficiency • Additional Accessibility Features

  15. Place Holder for Updated HFHI Repair Corp Reports

  16. Best Practices for Assessment • Use/develop assessment tools • Proper insurances, certifications • Safety training, personal CO detectors • Agreement with homeowner, survivors’ clause • Pictures to document existing conditions • Always travel in packs • Honor the sacred space of someone’s home • Remediate existing conditions that threaten worker or occupant safety before beginning renovation

  17. Professional Services – Do Not Try This at Home! Resources for Identifying and Addressing Hazardous Materials • Lead: http://www2.epa.gov/lead/lead-abatement-program-training-and-certification-program-lead-based-paint-activities-tsca • Asbestos: http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos • Mold: http://www.epa.gov/mold/ • Radon: http://www.epa.gov/radon/ • Carbon Monoxide: http://www.defenderdetectors.com/aboutco/nih.htmhttp://www.epa.gov/iaq/co.htmlhttp://www.stopcarbonmonoxide.com/

  18. Healthy Homes • “Healthy Home” means • The house does not compromise occupant health. • The house itself is not sick – all it’s systems are AOK. Healthy New Habitat House (2000 JCWP) Unhealthy Homeowner’s Previous Dwelling

  19. Do houses make people sick? • Many people believe the increased incidence of asthma might well relate to the increased amount of time spent indoors by children and the subsequent over-response of their immune systems to tiny exposures to [these] microbes. • Institute for Environmental Assessment • http://www.hazardousmaterialsconsulting.com/knowledge-base/sick-building-syndrome.htm

  20. Dr. Dockery says… • It’s very clear that in the United States asthma is worst in poor [geographical] areas, and that we’re seeing an increase of the disease in these areas. This makes us think that there must be environmental characteristics involved. • Douglas Dockery, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology Harvard School of Public Health.

  21. Lurking Health Concerns

  22. Relative Threat of Toxic Pollutants in the Home • Immediate Death • Carbon Monoxide • Life Threatening • Asbestos • Lead paint • Radon • Life Degrading • Applied poisons – pesticides, herbicides, etc. • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) • Microbial growth (Rot, mold) • Asthma & Allergy triggers (pollen, dust mites, mold, pest dander

  23. Relative Threat of Toxic Pollutants in the Home • Immediate Death • Carbon Monoxide • Life Threatening • Asbestos • Lead paint • Radon • Life Degrading • Applied poisons – pesticides, herbicides, etc. • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) • Microbial growth (Rot, mold) • Asthma & Allergy triggers (pollen, dust mites, mold, pest dander

  24. Driving ForcesAir, Heat, and Moisture Flow Dynamics

  25. Carbon Monoxide • Ideally – none should be produced • Product of incomplete combustion • Any produced should go up the flue • It happens anyway

  26. Carbon Monoxide

  27. Carbon Monoxide does more than kill! Risks can be mitigated!

  28. Lurking Air, Heat, and Moisture Control Problems Dead Giveaway: Lingering, Repeating, Unpleasant or Unexpected Odors

  29. Building America (at FSEC) Experience ~50

  30. Why Were We There? • Unmitigatable moisture problems – in homes a year or two old! • Multiple (very expensive) repair attempts Lovely pink mold poop! Looks lovely, smells awful – why?

  31. Why Were We There? Warranty Claims • Repeat repairs resulting in reoccurring reports of retrogressing… • Warranty Process • Repair water leaks (roof, plumbing, flashing) • If no cause is evident, replace the damage area anyway (and pray) • If the problem comes back, blame occupants (in frustration), but replace the damaged area one more time • If the problem comes back, call in a building scientist Rust Water drip trails

  32. Warping Staining Rusting Damaged Walls

  33. Water in fixtures Staining Warping Damaged Ceilings

  34. Warping Staining Damaged Floors

  35. Molds & Mildews Biological growth

  36. Cave syndrome “cold & damp” Swamp thing “warm & humid” Both supports dust mite and mold proliferation Comfort complaints U Got Cool U Want Cool

  37. Usually coupled with other problems Houses often sold as “energy efficient” High energy bills

  38. What was going on? • All water related failures, but… • No roof, window, plumbing leaks • No rain getting in walls • What was going on? Ask a building scientist • Combination of air, heat, and moisture control issues • Duct leakage • Disrupted return air flow • Poor indoor humidity control • Vapor flow retarders on cold side of assembly • Open building cavities • Inadequate crawl space ventilation • And more!

  39. What was going on? • Process of Diagnosis: • Find Source of the Moisture – inside or out? • Examine pattern of damage – all in one place? All over the house? Only at the top of the walls? • Is the odor constant? Seasonal? • Find the Path of Movement – • excessive dust accumulation, dust on vertical surfaces, spider webs, water stains • Find Driving Forces • What’s making the air, moisture, or heat move • Difference in air pressure, temperature, or vapor pressure

  40. What was going on? • Recommendations • 1 Identify and mitigate at the source • Common moisture sources: ground under the house, steam from cooking and bathing, high relative humidity • 2 Eliminate as much of the path(s) as possible • Create and protect a continuous whole house air barrier • Enclose all wall cavities • Seal around fixtures and penetrations for electrical and plumbing • 3 Reducing Driving Forces as much as needed • Common driving forces: duct leakage, inadequate return air allowances from bedrooms, inadequate humidity control, exhaust fans not ducted to outside

  41. Uncontrolled Air Flow Path Return Air Plenum – dirt, debris, fiberglass, no air barrier (therefore connected to the walls and attic) Enclose the wall cavities with taped and finished drywall

  42. Don’t do this This is better Framed Return Plenum Connected to attic via walls. Where’s the return air coming from? Framed Return Plenum with continuous air barrier. Note sealant at floor joint.

  43. Uncontrolled Air Flow Path Exposed building cavities – see the tell-tale sign?

  44. Proposed Solution… • Duct repair • Add return air paths to private rooms • Increase return air grill size • Add positive pressure ventilation • Reduce building leakage to 0.35 natural ach Findings: Multiple Problems=Rapid Failure • High negative pressures • Duct leaks • Door closure • Exhaust fans • Low temperature • Discomfort driving thermostat • Large moisture source • The ground Tell-tale signs Not so subtle

  45. Let’s Create Healthy Houses that Endure – How?! • Recognize the signs • Engage a building scientist • Adopt standard treatments for managing • Air Movement • Heat Transfer • Moisture Control • Take the Retrofit Challenge • Hot-humid climate only • Learn more: www.ba-pirc.org/retrofit http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/pdf/FSEC-RR-384-12.pdf

  46. The Retrofit Challenge A Systems Engineering Approach • Integrated design process: build team consensus • Master specifications • Address every energy, durability, and indoor air quality characterisitc • Verifiable, standard specification or method for each • Performance Testing & Enforcable Accountability • Feedback loops for continued improvement • Multiple Benefits from Same Improvement • Reducing duct system leakage improves: • Energy Efficiency, Health (IAQ), Safety, Durability and Comfort • First cost = ~$400; • First Energy Year Savings ~$200

  47. Healthy Homes • “Healthy Home” means • The house does not compromise occupant health. • The house itself is not sick – all it’s systems are AOK. • What does it look like? • Source Control • Air, Heat, and Moisture Flow Control • Minimize paths & driving forces • How can we ensure it happens in our retrofits?

  48. Influences on Healthy Homes • Local Climate • Environment • House Construction • House Operation

  49. Stakeholder Need Tell us what to do. Give us “the list”. • Affordable Housing Sector - Renovation • Local Gov’t Community Development • HUD funding • Foreclosed homes • Sell in affordable housing sector • Mutual Goal – 30% Improvement in HERS Index Let’s figure out together.

  50. Technical Approach – Field Study 70 Houses (yellow) - resulted in detailed best practices.