Improving air quality and comfort in buildings through energy efficiency can lead to better health.
E4TheFuture advances understanding of energy efficiency’s impacts on human health and opportunities for integrated energy plus health programs in homes, particularly related to asthma and other respiratory diseases. See the resources below as starting points to explore the growing energy/health connection.
Upcoming Events Featuring Our Work
January 21-23, 2020 – ACEEE Conference on Health, Environment and Energy (CHEE) in New Orleans, LA. Register here.
The Energy-Plus-Health Playbook
The Energy-Plus-Health Playbook outlines three program tiers with increasing levels of health and energy integration. It illuminates key case studies and considerations for program design and/or development, and offers tips for navigating health industry partnerships. Tools and resources are included to help users implement integrated programs.
Download slides from the 9/9/19 webinar Using the Energy-Plus-Health Playbook.
Download slides from the 10/24/19 webinar US DOE Better Buildings Residential Network – Health and Energy Efficiency Are Trending (Peer Exchange Call)
How well are we tracking the health impacts of energy efficiency programs? (Sara Hayes, ACEEE)
Centering health in energy efficiency program design (Liz Curry and Emily Levin, VEIC)
Orchestrating a Better Outcome: New Playbook Offers Guidance on “Energy-Plus-Health” Programs (Julie Michals and Ellen Tohn)
Healthy Homes – New Research Leading to Potential Partnerships (Building Performance Association)
Can Energy Efficiency Programs Help Expand the Public Health Workforce? (Ellen Tohn for NCHH)
Extraordinary Public Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewables (Better Building Works)
E4TheFuture supports a range of efforts to help advance the energy/health connection, focusing on four areas:
- Research on Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency
- Energy-Plus-Health Program Models and Guidance
- Resources for Energy-Plus-Health Policies
- Health Benefits in Cost-Effectiveness Screening
1. Research on Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency
Integrated energy and health programs have been shown to improve occupant health as well as decrease energy use. See examples of research and studies below.
Occupant Health Benefits of Residential Energy Efficiency (White Paper, Oct. 2016)
Home Rx: The Health Benefits of Home Performance (Report, U.S. Dept. of Energy, Dec. 2016)
ACEEE‘s extensive research includes:
- Protecting the Health of Vulnerable Populations with In-Home Energy Efficiency: A Survey of Methods for Demonstrating Health Outcomes (Oct. 2019)
- The Value of Energy Efficiency as a Public Health and Climate Mitigation Strategy (June 2019)
- The air quality-related health benefits of energy efficiency in the United States (Mar. 2019)
- Cost-Effectiveness Tests: Overview of State Approaches to Account for Health and Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency (Dec. 2018)
- Saving Energy, Saving Lives: The Health Impacts of Avoiding Power Plant Pollution with Energy Efficiency (Feb. 2018)
ACEEE focuses on both indoor and outdoor air quality in their work. They are hosting a Bridging Health & Energy Efficiency working group to discuss research on health and energy efficiency programs, practice and policies through January 2020. Information on other ACEEE health work is available on their Health & Environment webpage.
2. Energy Plus Health Program Models and Guidance
Various resources provide guidance and tools for coordinating and administering integrated energy-plus-health programs, as well as information on existing programs including pilot efforts.
Energy-Plus-Health Playbook (July 2019) and blog by E4TheFuture and Ellen Tohn, Orchestrating a Better Outcome: New Playbook Offers Guidance on “Energy-Plus-Health” Programs.
Capitalizing on the Health Impacts of Improving Housing Conditions, by Michael McKnight and Ruth Ann Norton, is a chapter in The Practical Playbook II: Building Multisector Partnerships That Work (2019) that shares the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative’s experiences and best practices for integrated energy-plus-health program coordination.
The Next Nexus: Exemplary Programs that Save Energy and Improve Health (Research Report, ACEEE, March 2018) and The New Leaders of the Pack: ACEEE’s Fourth National Review of Exemplary Energy Efficiency Programs (Research Report, ACEEE, January 2019) provide brief overviews of key health and energy efficiency programs, methodologies, results, and conclusions sorted by pilot size and focus.
The Asthma and Health Benefits of Connecting with Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Programs (Regional Asthma Management & Prevention, RAMP Digest) cites key considerations and resources for integrated programs.
Washington State’s Weatherization Plus Health Program Resources page lists their integrated program materials and other publications that they have developed or found useful.
3. Resources for Energy and Health Policies
Several jurisdictions have enacted policies that recognize the value of the energy/health connection and provide sustained funding to support advancement and help overcome barriers to progress.
Some states have begun integrating health and energy efficiency programs, to improve outcomes for human health in addition to saving energy. Because health and efficiency projects cross sectors, initiatives are frequently collaborative among departments or organizations.
Examples of policy support for such integration include:
- Gubernatorial Executive Order establishing “Health in All Policies” Task Force (CA EO S-04-10; VT EO 07-15)
- Gubernatorial Executive Order to incorporate “Health Across All Policies” for state agencies facilitating health and energy department collaboration (NY EO 190)
- Legislation relating to “Healthy Housing” (WA HB1720-2015)
- Legislation establishing a “Healthy transportation compact” (MA General Laws I.II.6C.33)
- Mayoral Executive Order establishing “Office of Sustainability and Citywide Sustainability Policy” (Denver EO 123), which encompasses health and energy sustainability
- Mayoral Executive Order declaring a Sustainable Transformation Plan (DC 2013-209)
- County Ordinance implementing inter-branch collaboration on the countywide strategic plan (King County, WA Ordinance 16948)
- A City Ordinance establishing “Health in All Policies” as a strategy for a California city (Richmond Ordinance 07-14 N.S.)
- A follow-up city resolution to adopt a framework for “Health in All Policies”
- A County Health Department Health Equity Initiative (Multnomah, OR)
The above list is a sample of relevant policies and is not meant to be exhaustive or kept current. Find more information on Health in All Policies in this 2017 report by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Funding for Energy Plus Health Programs
Sustained funding is a necessary component of a successful energy plus health program. Because such programs are multi-sectoral projects, program funding varies significantly. Examples include:
- Medicaid and MCO reimbursement for Home-Based Asthma Services (e.g., in MO)
- State legislation for home health funds (CT)
- State legislation for housing health and safety funds (WA)
- Executive budget allocation for healthy homes (NY)
- Hospital Community Benefits
- Optimal Energy’s CHEE presentation overview of using medical funding for home health
- One Touch and Weatherization funding (VT)
4. Health Benefits in Cost-Effectiveness Screening
States vary in whether — and the extent to which — they account for public and occupant health impacts of energy efficiency investments when conducting benefit-cost analyses of efficiency programs. You can learn about where and how states account for these health impacts via the National Efficiency Screening Project’s Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP). See also the National Standard Practice Manual for Energy Efficiency which provides guidance on how states can determine whether accounting for health impacts is relevant to their specific state.
Refer to Research on Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency (section 1 above) to view useful studies that may be relevant to support accounting for health impacts.
See also the ACEEE resources in “Other Publications” within section 2 above.
The US EPA offers tools to assist states and local communities in quantifying the health and environmental impacts of energy efficiency (and renewables). The new guide Public Health Benefits per kWh of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (2019) discusses quantification of public health benefits at a local and state level. See their report Quantifying the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: A Guide for State and Local Governments (EPA, 2018) and visit the State and Local Energy and Environment Program website for more information.