LEED Certified buildings linked to health benefits
LEED® Certified buildings are often touted for minimal energy- and water-use, as well as for utilization of sustainable building materials. In addition, the superior indoor environmental quality and associated potential health benefits that LEED Certified buildings can provide are tremendous. Recently, Blue Sea Development and Mt. Sinai Hospital collaborated to study the health impact that living in a LEED Certified building had on tenants in The Eltona, a 63-unit multifamily building in the Melrose Commons neighborhood of the South Bronx.
The Eltona became the first affordable LEED Platinum Certified housing project in New York State. Formaldehyde-free and low VOC materials, compartmentalized ventilation systems with trickle vents, HEPA filters in commons areas, non-microbial flooring and no-combustion appliances featured prominently in the healthy design. The building is pet free, practices integrated pest management (IPM), uses green cleaning products and does not allow smoking on the premises. Each resident is provided with a one-hour educational walk through detailing the green and healthy features of their apartment and the building, along with a manual outlining all green practices.
The study surveyed tenants prior to occupancy and again after 6, 12 and 18 months of residency in the LEED building. Information was collected regarding asthma symptoms, prevalence of asthma attacks, frequency of hospital visits, and days missed at work and school. Other data such as presence of carpets, use of hypoallergenic mattress covers and pillow cases, knowledge of healthy pest control methods, avoidance of chemicals and identification of mold and mildew were also collected.
The study, consistent with other studies of this nature, showed significant improvement of asthma symptoms, a decrease in doctor visits and an increase in resident awareness of respiratory health. The exciting results of this study have ongoing influence in affordable housing design.