Green Appears A Good Addition to Public Housing

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When hearing about a "green building, you may immediately picture sustainable skyscrapers that claim to benefit the environment in some way. While this can be true, the term also means structures built that are more health conscious in general. But there's a dearth of data on the effectiveness of such units at improving human health.

Now, a new study, printed in the American Journal of Public Health sheds some light on how green public housing may improve the health of its occupants.

Researcher Meryl D. Colton, and her colleagues, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, found that, to begin with, public housing itself is not entirely good for one's health. Factors such as poor property maintenance, and the pressures associated with low socioeconomic status, may contribute to health issues, which include, asthma, respiratory illness and poor mental health.

For this study, the researchers visited three public housing communities in Boston and interviewed 235 participating residents. Of them, 135 individuals lived in conventional buildings, while the rest lived in recently-renovated buildings that received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold and platinum qualifications. They also did evaluations of 400 houses.

On the whole, green housing had significantly less mold, better ventilation and better pest control compared to traditional housing. Children with asthma appeared to be the greatest beneficiaries living in green houses, as they on average, experienced fewer symptoms, fewer attacks, fewer hospital visits and fewer asthma-related absences from school as compared to asthmatic children living in traditional public housing.