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Innovative New Program Delivers Health and Energy Improvements to 18 Homes in Communities Facing Inequities

By Tess Orlev
 Jan. 29, 2019



BIG’s innovative new program leverages funding sources to deliver energy and healthy home upgrades simultaneously to benefit California’s most vulnerable populations.

Build It Green (BIG) is proud to announce that its innovative Healthy Home Connect Program has successfully expanded into new communities. Thanks to generous funding from Facebook, Inc., BIG has delivered health and energy upgrades to 18 homes and families faced with hardships in the Belle Haven community—homes that would otherwise not fully benefit from existing energy efficiency programs because they needed more basic repairs first.

 

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BIG worked closely with their on-the-ground community partner, El Concilio of San Mateo County, a non-profit that offers critically needed comprehensive programs and services. El Concilio’s efforts are especially beneficial for workforce development as they provide valuable work experience for young people in the area, which enhances the region's economic stability and prosperity.

“There is a strong link between health and energy efficiency in homes: energy upgrades often provide health co-benefits.”

—Karin Burns, Executive Director, Build It Green

“Safe, affordable, and healthy housing is foundational to enabling quality of life for individuals and families, especially vulnerable populations and children,” said Karin Burns, Executive Director of Build It Green.

“At the same time, there is a strong link between health and energy efficiency in homes: energy upgrades often provide health co-benefits. That’s what makes Healthy Home Connect’s approach so unique. It can help communities simultaneously address the affordable housing crisis, the climate crisis, and the public health issues that affect thousands of individuals and families in communities facing inequities,” explained Burns.

Why Communities Need Healthy Home Connect

Housing services for communities facing inequities are often siloed and delivered inefficiently. Energy efficiency and weatherization programs do not address home health conditions, which are often closely related. Furthermore, many homes are disqualified from receiving energy efficiency and solar PV improvements because of existing conditions in the home, such as mold, moisture, unsafe HVAC systems leaking carbon monoxide, or dilapidated roofs. The result is that some of the most vulnerable families are left behind and must live in homes that exacerbate asthma and other health conditions, as well as homes that are inefficient with high utility bills, contributing to displacement and the affordable housing crisis.

How Healthy Home Connect Works

Healthy Home Connect addresses this problem by combining public funding sources with private philanthropy, and delivering programs simultaneously. BIG also worked closely with their local, like-minded partner El Concilio, to establish relationships and trust with the community and help fulfill the work and mission of the Program.

“We at El Concilio are committed to providing the best services possible to the community through programs that support people to create better futures for themselves and their families. We are proud that our partnership with BIG helped facilitate healthier and energy-efficient homes to those who would otherwise experience great afflictions,” said Ortensia Lopez, Executive Director at El Concilio.

Repairs delivered included:

  • Healthy home improvements 
  • Necessary upgrades and repairs not covered by other programs, including home ventilation improvements and roof repair to qualify homes for solar
  • Energy efficiency improvements 

A key to the program’s success is the use of the Hayward Score to identify unhealthy conditions in low-income homes. This patent-pending, web-enabled tool, built by the best minds in the healthy homes industry over the past three years, provides a survey, home score, and a customized set of recommendations outlining steps to improve the health and safety of their home. Hayward Score’s targeted survey questions and refined algorithms typically achieve the same level of accuracy as expensive indoor air quality testing, which most residents cannot afford.

Multiple Benefits to Families

Healthy Home Connect has resulted in homes that are:

  • Safer and healthier, with improvements that mitigate indoor air quality issues that exacerbate asthma and other medical conditions
  • More affordable, with lower utility bills to help stabilize the finances of families and prevent displacement
  • Demand-harmonizing and climate-friendly, contributing to lower greenhouse gas emissions and optimizing grid-delivered clean energy resources
  • Read a Success Story >
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Unsafe Homes Put Families at Risk

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Did You Know

40% of asthma episodes are caused by unhealthy conditions in a home.

Lead poisoning affects an estimated 535,000 U.S. children (age 6 or younger) each year.

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Pests

Mice, rats, cockroaches and even dust mites leave feces or urine that when breathed in can trigger asthma attacks and other health problems.

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Mold & Moisture

Leaky roofs, damp basements, and a lack of ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens can lead to unhealthy moisture and mold growth—making people sick and triggering asthma episodes.

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Lead Paint

Homes built before 1978 typically have lead paint. Lead is a neurotoxin and lead poisoning in young children can lead to irreversible behavioral problems and developmental delays.

 
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Dust & Allergens

Dust, dirt and allergens trapped in older carpet or circulated through leaky heating and cooling ducts can harm indoor air quality and impact peoples’ health.

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Energy Leaks

Older homes with no insulation and antiquated heating and cooling systems waste energy and cause sky-high utility bills for residents; higher monthly housing costs increase the risk of eviction or foreclosure.

 

 


 

About Build It Green

Build It Green is a nonprofit with a mission to help professionals adopt green practices and grow the market for efficient, healthy homes. Our pioneering work is transforming how homes are built and renovated in California and beyond.