The 8 Elements of a Green & Healthy Home

A green and healthy home supports the well-being of the people living there in many different ways. An unhealthy home can be transformed into a clean, healthy and safe one by employing GHHI's whole-house strategy using the 8 Elements. For more information on resources to keep your home free of health hazards, visit our Lead and Other Hazards section.

Employing the 8 elements of a green and healthy home helps families consume less energy, and create a home free of health and safety hazards.

A Dry Home

elements-dry
  • Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems
  • Prevent rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage around the outside of the home
  • Check your interior plumbing for any leaking

A Clean Home

  • Control the source of dust and contaminants
  • Create smooth and cleanable surfaces
  • Reduce clutter
  • Use effective wet-cleaning

A Safe Home

  • Store and properly label
  • Keep poisons out of the reach of children
  • Secure loose rugs and keep children's play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand

A Well-Ventilated Home

  • Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens
  • Use whole-house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home

A Pest-Free Home

  • All pests look for food, water and shelter
  • Seal cracks and opening throughout the home
  • Store food in pest-resistant containers
  • If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers
  • Use less-toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder

A Contaminant-Free Home

  • Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint
  • Keep floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach
  • Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks

A Well-Maintained Home

  • Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely
  • Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large

An Energy Efficient Home

  • Use reduced amounts of energy, water, and resource consumption
  • Energy efficiency/weatherization includes: Install proper weatherization, such as: insulation, air-sealing, weather-stripping, and window efficiency
  • Maintain efficient heating and cooling system; proper air flow and temperature distribution; efficient hot water / steam boiler system

Take these steps to learn to keep your home energy efficient:

 

Why is a Green & Healthy home important?

Health Fact

Nearly six million households live with moderate to severe home health and safety hazards, which place them at-risk for illnesses and injuries including asthma; lead poisoning; slip and falls; and respiratory illnesses.

Financial Fact

Low-income households typically spend 14 percent of their total income on energy costs compared with 3.5 percent for other households.

Health & Financial Costs

Far too many American homes don't meet basic healthy homes principles - dry, clean, ventilated, free from pests and contaminants, well-maintained and safe. This costs our country billions of dollars annually in housing-related healthcare costs for asthma, lead-based paint poisoning and injury, as well as lost productivity in the labor force.

Besides the physical health toll an at-risk home can have on its inhabitants (thousands of unnecessary emergency visits annually due to housing related accidents and illness), the monetary costs of unhealthy homes are enormous.

In addition to the significant negative health outcomes due to excess heat and cold, improving energy-efficiency provides much needed financial relief to low-income families better allowing them to meet basic needs such rent or mortgage payments and on-going standard property maintenance.

The housing problems outlined above, however, are not insurmountable. Weather sealing improvements may help keep inhabitants' energy costs down, but if the quality of the air that is sealed inside is poor, or if the inhabitants are exposed to lead hazards during the weatherization process, health will suffer.

There are many low-cost green interventions that can be performed to enhance comfort and reduce utility costs for residents. Some interventions, such as filling in holes that harbor rodents as part of an integrated pest management strategy, not only make the unit healthier for residents but also enhance the structural integrity of the property, making it more energy efficient to heat and cool.