Preliminary results of the WHO Frankfurt housing intervention project
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AbstractThermal insulation of buildings is widely recognized for its economic benefits due to decreased energy costs andsince residences are major consumers of energy, it is also considered an appropriate tool for reducinggreenhouse emissions and mitigating climate change. Yet, little information exists on the potential health effectsof thermal insulation, which is often accompanied by a decrease of air exchange rates in air-tight and highlyinsulated buildings.The WHO housing and health programme therefore implemented a health-monitoring project in cooperation witha large housing agency based in Germany. The project collected data in spring 2006 before renovation work, andre-contacted all households in spring 2007 after renovation was carried out. In parallel, a control group ofdwellings without interventions was used to collect additional data to identify changes caused by buildingrehabilitation in the intervention group. The main objective was to assess the impact of thermal insulationchanges on indoor environments, and evaluate potential effects on residents’ health.Drawing from 131 insulated and 104 non-insulated dwellings (with data for 220 and 155 residents, respectively),the project’s preliminary results indicate that thermal insulation had a strongly positive impact on thermalconditions and thermal comfort as perceived by the residents, and decreased relative humidity in renovateddwellings. Results for direct effects on the occurrence of mould in renovated dwellings were weak, but indicatedthe major role of humidity levels and air exchange for adequate indoor climate. Direct associations of thermalinsulation with health effects were also weak and limited to smaller prevalence differences of respiratory diseasesand cold. Additional effects of the refurbishment were increased satisfaction and living conditions as perceived byresidents, and a clear reduction of noise exposure.In conclusion, the first results indicate that renovation activities and insulation are not in conflict with the healthof residents and have the potential to improve health-related living conditions and thermal comfort if therehabilitation work is done professionally and considers the need for adequate air exchange.
Braubach, Matthias, Heinen, Dorothee & Dame, Juliane. (2007). Preliminary results of the WHO Frankfurt housing intervention project. World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe. https://iris.who.int/handle/10665/107908