Health Impact Assessment of the Healthy Homes Incentive Program
By: Ellie King
What is a Health Impact Assessment?
A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) provides recommendations to communities about how they can remain healthy, much like a doctor advises patients. According the the Center for Disease Control (CDC) a full workup for a community includes the following:
- Screening (identifying plans, projects or policies for which an HIA would be useful),
- Scoping (identifying which health effects to consider),
- Assessing risks and benefits (identifying which people may be affected and how they may be affected),
- Developing recommendations (suggesting changes to proposals to promote positive health effects or to minimize adverse health effects),
- Reporting (presenting the results to decision-makers), and
- Monitoring and evaluating (determining the effect of the HIA on the decision).
– source: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/hia.htm
What does this have to do with energy efficiency retrofits?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 90% of their time indoors, and it’s estimated that indoor air pollutants are often two to five times higher than those found outdoors. Those figures, combined with the aging housing stock in and around the Pittsburgh area means that there are a lot of opportunities for health impacts in your own home!
The health problems created by poor indoor air quality can be mitigated by a well performing, energy efficient home. The Healthy Homes Incentive Program makes energy efficiency improvements easier and less expensive for you to take advantage of in Allegheny County.
For more information about the Healthy Homes Incentive Program click on this link for the website.
Tell me more…
In this case, GTECH is working with Alyssa Bruehlman, a Pittsburgh native and a current third-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, to better understand why people seek weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits for their homes, what the most common types are, and what the health benefits of these improvements look like.
As her Longitudinal Scholarly Project while at Pitt Med, Alyssa is conducting a Health Impact Assessment of the Healthy Homes Incentive Program. She will be conducting qualitative interviews with homeowners who have agreed to participate to better understand any perceived benefits in health and well being before and after participation in the HHIP process.
Alyssa will also conduct a demographic study of all HHIP participants, looking to better describe who in Allegheny County is seeking out weatherization and energy retrofit services.
She hopes to share her findings with GTECH, Rebuilding Together and the Allegheny Health Department to help improve future programs similar to HHIP.
Through this process, we will better learn what motivates people in Allegheny County to pursue these home retrofits – whether it be health concerns, home performance or high energy bill, or something else entirely.
For specific HIA questions, you may contact Alyssa.