APPG HHB White Paper Launch – Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings

On October 24th, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Building’s White Paper entitled ‘Building our Future: Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings’ was published.

With the aim to tackle the numerous health and wellbeing issues in UK homes and buildings, APPGHHB believe that with this White Paper there is a real opportunity to create and use buildings to promote positive health and wellbeing, make savings in health care costs, improve productivity and allow the UK’s citizens to lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

As we spend 90% of our time indoors, our indoor environments are important. Without looking after them, we are at risk of health conditions which could largely impact both the economy and our society. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Buildings (APPGHHB) was created to shed light on the many problems caused to the nation’s health and the economy as a result of people working and living in unhealthy homes and buildings. The APPGHHB believe that it is only by taking a holistic approach to delivering healthy homes and buildings that we can make changes where the real benefits can be realised. Without focusing on the issue as a whole, we risk making gains by tackling one issue, simply to lose them again by failing to tackle another.

“Without focusing on the issue as a whole, we risk making gains by tackling one issue, simply to lose them again by failing to tackle another.”

The White Paper lays out a list of recommendations explaining in detail how the nation can and should deliver healthy homes and buildings. At the official launch of the White Paper, which took place at the Houses of Commons on Wednesday evening, attendees could discuss the paper’s contents and recommendations with the paper’s authors and experts.

As a sponsor of the ABBGHHB, BEAMA were thrilled and honoured to have had a role in the writing and producing of this White Paper. Healthy homes and buildings are a key focus for us as an organisation and we believe this White Paper has the power to make a highly positive impact on the future of housing.

Read the White Paper in full.

Illegal levels of air pollution linked to child’s death”

A nine-year-old girl’s fatal asthma attack has been linked to illegally high levels of air pollution.

A nine-year-old girl has died from a fatal asthma attack and this is the first time an individual death has been linked to air pollution. One of the UKs leading experts, Stephen Holgate says there was a “striking association” between the girl’s emergency hospital admissions and recorded spikes in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10s. Spikes in air pollution coincided with all but one of Ella’s hospital admissions and her fatal asthma attack came after one of the “worst air pollution episodes in her locality”.

With so much information now available about the health impacts of air pollution and the link to thousands of deaths in the UK, it doesn’t make any sense that no direct link to an individual death has been made earlier, says human rights lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn who is acting on behalf of the family.

The girl lived with her family near the South Circular Road and Lewisham High Street in south London, which is a heavily trafficked and polluted area. The girl’s mother said she had been treated by five different hospitals before her death, but no one had ever told her about the potential link to air pollution.

UK citizens spend on average 90% of their time indoors and around 16 hours a day in their homes. Indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, and as the girl lived in an area with high levels of outdoor air pollution this means her home, a place one would view as safe, may have been even worse for her health.

According to a government report published in 2018, poor air quality has been classified as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK – yet, public information on the matter is still lacking.

In his report, Professor Holgate described exposure to air pollutants as a “key driver” of the girl’s disease and that “unlawful levels of air pollution contributed to the cause and seriousness of the girl’s asthma in a way that greatly compromised her quality of life and was causative of her fatal asthma attack”.

If she would have known more about the health effects of air pollution, she would have looked at moving to a different area and making sure her home was safe for her daughter to be in, says the girl’s mother.

Full article here.

 

 

 

APPG For Healthy Homes and Buildings Second Oral Evidence Session

london_parliament_2007-1The most recent meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Buildings saw the second oral evidence session in response to the Green Paper Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings.

Within this session of the APPG discussion was based on what needs to be done to achieve a healthier built environment.


This evidence session gave Officers of the Group, MPs and the authors of the Green Paper the opportunity to probe the issues raised in response to the Green Paper consultation. Members and officers of the APPG for Healthy Homes and Buildings invited the following speakers to discuss the health problems derived from unhealthy homes and buildings as well as how to raise Government awareness of the wider cost benefits of creating a healthy built environment.

  • Neil May: UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings
  • Ian Watson: Building Research Establishment
  • Dr. Marcella Ucci: UK Indoor Environment Group
  • Dr. Gráinne McGill: MEARU
  • Margaret Hamilton: Arup
  • Richard Twinn: UK Green Buildings Council
  • Dr. Christopher Watson: Academic-Practitioner Partnership

APPG 21.11.2017The session began with Chris Yates, Managing Director of Johnson and Starley, representing BEAMA. Speaking on behalf of the trade association, Yates stressed the importance of there being an improved focus on indoor air quality within building regulations that currently focus too strongly on energy efficiency. Yates continued to say “Ventilation should be treated as a “controlled service” in the same way that Gas and Electricity is and only installed by members of a CLG registered competent person scheme”

“Ventilation should be treated as a “controlled service” in the same was that Gas and Electricity is and only installed by members of a CLG registered competent person scheme” – Chris Yates, Johnson and Starley

Neil May from the UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings began his evidence by drawing attention to the fact that more than a third of buildings suffer from mould and that it should be a more important consideration when discussing healthy homes. Neil went on to emphasize the fact that evidence on mould and dampness in homes lacks much-needed clarity and is often conflicting, setting the organisations stance that moisture risk should be considered in all regulations moving forward with methodologies put in place where measurement is possible.

The Building Research Establishment called for greater control design and personal control when it comes to building regulations. Talking on behalf of the group, Ian Watson discussed how there are currently no regulations for local authorities to review housing conditions periodically, which needs to be changed. Ian placed high importance on the need for minimum space requirements and a Government review of building regulations.

A common suggestion from the panel was the need for a systematic review of homes and buildings in the UK that is well-balanced and independent. This will ensure regulations are a reflection of the current housing market without any conflicting evidence and opinions, a point heavily suggested by Dr. Marcella Ucci of the UK Indoor Environment Group, who also explained the need for upskilling and educating the construction industry to implement future regulations effectively. Expanding on this point, Dr. Gráinne McGill of MEARU also called for the upskilling of workers across all sectors related to housing and buildings, not solely the construction industry. Dr. Gráinne also noted the absence of the mention of personal safety in the Health & Wellbeing outcomes.

A key outcome from evidence given by both MEARU and Margaret Hamilton on behalf of Arup is the requirement for greater focus on over-heating in the homes with specific reference to ventilation. Dr. Gráinne addressed the problem that there is currently very little information regarding indoor air pollutants and the overall effects of these on homes and buildings, calling for more evidence to be collected in order to help rectify the differences between design expectations and actual performance of ventilation within the home.

There is currently very little information regarding indoor air pollutants and the overall effects of these on homes and buildings.

Despite the need to ensure new buildings are made in a suitable and healthy way Richard Twinn from the UK Green Buildings Council advises the group to be more conscious of the need for improvements within the existing building stock. Richard also drew the groups attention to the possible cost implications of moving towards a more holistic approach when improving buildings as he commented: “Buildings need to be monitored, managed and maintained properly – so we have the models in place to ensure this constant maintenance?”

“Buildings need to be monitored, managed and maintained properly – do we have the models in place to ensure this constant maintenance?” – Richard Twinn, UK Green Buildings Council

The final group giving evidence to the APPG was the Academic-Practitioner Partnership with Dr. Christopher Watson speaking. The basis of the evidence revolved around the crucial action needed on the poorest quality homes, cold homes, air quality, damp homes, and overcrowding. Dr. Christopher suggested a cross-departmental approach in order to go about finding solutions to these complex problems, drawing specific attention to the private rented sector and the longer-term threats to health and well being associated with housing.


This second oral evidence session was successful in helping to drive forward the Green Paper and allow improvements to be made to ensure that it can reach its full potential in greatly changing the current housing regulations, public awareness and general health and safety in all homes and buildings.

Indoor Air Quality on EU Building Agenda for First Time

MEPs will debate amendments to new EU building regulations next week (October 11th), which could see indoor air quality become mandatory criteria for the first time.

The plans come as part of a larger rethink on future building standards in the wake of the Paris Agreement on climate change and are intended as part of improving the overall energy performance of the built environment.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) will be going before the committee on industry, research, and energy (ITRE) on the 11th October. The proposed policy changes are intending to ensure all EU citizens have access to the best indoor air quality and will seek to set high minimum standards at the member state level, along with ambitious renovation strategies.

“Energy efficiency and indoor air quality must go hand in hand. The consequences poor indoor air quality has on Europeans’ health and quality of life, as well as on our economies, cannot be underestimated,” according to Roberta Savli, director of strategy and policy at the European Federation of Allergies and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA).

“Europeans have the right to breathe clean and safe air everywhere,” she said and adds, “the European Parliament has the opportunity to introduce an indoor air quality certificate to protect us.”

But potential conflicts between the energy efficiency measures and proposed indoor air quality standards are already becoming apparent. Attempts to increase the energy efficiency of buildings generally mean “we are not opening windows; we are interchanging incoming and outgoing air” according to Jaromir Kohlicek, a Czech MEP and vice-chair of the ITRE committee.


Achieving the balance between a high-level legislative framework and member state commitment for ambitious renovation strategies and action plans will be essential to see significant progress on the issue.

Adrian Joyce, secretary general of the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EuroACE), admits that to “live up to the Paris Accords we have to change.”

He points out that buildings consume 40 percent of all energy and produce 36 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 70 percent of all buildings were constructed before there were energy regulations.

The amendments must set a “strong vision for the building stock for 2050”, but he highlighted the “need to strengthen renovation strategies at the member state level”.

Achieving the balance between a high-level legislative framework and member state commitment for ambitious renovation strategies and action plans will be essential to see significant progress on the issue.

The amendments set a framework that, “defines responsibilities and allows member states to create their path to the overall 2050 goal,” according to EuroACE, “this is positive for the member states”. “If these amendments are adopted it means we will see much lower energy demand and much lower carbon dioxide emissions from buildings by 2050.”


Affordability will continue to be an issue. Financial support packages at the EU and member state level must be encouraged, according to Jaatteenmaki.

Kohlicek said that the intent of the changes, with respect to energy poverty and health outcomes, was such that “the declaration is quite clear, we must help the impoverished”.

“When you are living in better homes the heating costs are lower,” Kohlicek said.

Properly renovated and insulated buildings lose less heat and use less energy overall, meaning fewer decisions about ‘whether to heat or eat’. “We hope with these directives, we can push the entrepreneurs who own these buildings to fix the issues,” he comments.


But Kohlicek offers a word of caution, stating “the direct impact of indoor air quality will not be readily apparent”. It could take as long as ten years to see a statistical change, he warns, as these directives are for new buildings and future renovations. “This is a policy with a long view”.

 

This article originally appeared on EU Observer, 05/10/2017

https://euobserver.com/health/139297

‘Building our Future: Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings’ Open for Consultation.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Healthy Homes and Buildings’ Green Paper ‘Building our Future: Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings’ is now open for consultation.

The Green Paper sets out key recommendations on what needs to be done to ensure that all of our homes and buildings are healthy and do not create or worsen health issues.

Most of us spend 90% of our time inside buildings of one sort or another. Therefore, it is important that our homes and buildings should be designed for people first and foremost. Creating comfortable living and working conditions is critical to our general happiness, health, wellbeing and successful education.

Over the past year, the APPG has examined the health risks suffered by many living and working in poor accommodation, realizing the need for changes to be implemented. It is crucial that new homes and buildings are built to a high standard, but also that we address buildings that already exist also.

The APPG is now inviting people to comment and respond to the Green Paper, particularly giving views on whether they think the paper adequately covers the current issues and solutions regarding healthy homes and buildings. The questions include:

  • Do you believe the Green Paper covers all the current issues caused by unhealthy homes and buildings? Are you able to provide any further evidence that you think should be included?
  • Do you believe the Green Paper has identified the main problems and solutions in creating healthy homes and buildings? Are you able to provide any further issues or solutions that you think should be included?
  • Do you support the recommendations made in the draft Green Paper? Are you able to provide additional recommendations, including specific recommendations for specific issue areas?
  • What actions do you believe are needed in order to achieve the recommendations in this paper?
  • Do you wish to make any further comments on the draft paper or provide any further information, commentary or evidence?

 

Click here to read the full Green Paper.

To find out more about the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group visit healthhomesbuildings.org.uk