You could say that this morning’s discussion with Joe Medosch of Hayward Score in Hayward, California and Kevin Kennedy of Children’s Mercy Kansas City (Missouri), was about “If you have the right tools you can do anything.” Only, you would need to add to that, “You need lots of experience using those tools to do an effective healthy home assessment.” The session was titled: Healthy Home Keep Its, Meet the Measure Its. (Not sure exactly what that means.)
The tools you need to assess the health of a home’s environment are mostly the same that you use to make a home energy efficient—moisture meters, particle counters, Duct Blasters, blower doors, IR, and so on. Joe says, “Understand your tools.” And keep them calibrated and in good working order. Some general advice? “Always take at least three measurements.”
Joe and Kevin began by showing us how to conduct a visual assessment of a home, keeping in mind health issues. For example, don’t open up the under-sink kitchen cabinet and just look for the wall penetrations; look at all the cleaners and roach spray and the rest of the stuff we put in our under-sink cabinets. Ask yourself, “How might these solutions impact the indoor environment?” After assessing the contents, empty the cabinet and look for mold growth, a sign of moisture problems. And do you find roach droppings on the floor? If so, note this “allergen reservoir.”
Look for “contaminant pathways”. Know that air flow can traffic many more gallons of water into a wall than can simple diffusion.
Our morning panelists also covered details of moisture measurement, and what to do if you’re are pretty sure there is a big moisture problem behind a wall. Unless you are going to fix the problem on the spot, leave the wall as it is. If you are a trained in healthy home assessment, leave the repair work up to the experts—and avoid the liability if things go wrong.
This afternoon, Sara Gutterman, Co-Founder and CEO of Green Builder Media dazzled us with lots of insight gathered from data produced by a program that uses artificial intelligence to mine the building industry on the web and in social media. Green Builder Media also conducts surveys of their readers, cutting edge building pros for the most part, and consumers of their services. Her discussion, Coronavirus and Systemic Changes in the Housing Industry, shared much of that data with analysis. Many participants want to get hold of her slides. There was so much to take in.
Some highlights. Sara repeated a theme of many of our presenters from early last week about the opportunities opened up by the COVID-19 pandemic and the extraordinary, and extraordinarily rapid, changes taking place in people and cultures all around the world. And she backed it up with data that shows a strong movement among builders and contractors from calling themselves “home performance contractors” to advertising their services as “healthy home contractors”.
Other changes in the United States that are being accelerated by the pandemic include:
- an emphasis on “tele-health” that allows people to visit their doctors from home;
- with more people living and working at home, an increasing concern about IAQ
- assistive living technology that allows people to “age in place”—interest in assisted living facilities outside the home and nursing homes has dropped;
- a growing “ethic of sustainability”; and
- workers who like working at home and CEOs who like the increased productivity of their workers and the decreased expense for office space and equipment.
And there are signs that people who can see the night sky full or stars for the first time in their lives, who breath cleaner air will push their communities and leaders to continue action to mitigate Global Climate Change. Interesting fact: Germany is experiencing record PV production because of cleaner skies.
Tomorrow we are winding down the live portion of the National Home Performance Conference with a couple of live sessions. But there is so much more to come. To find out more, read the latest blog from BPA Vice President of Education & Events, Nate Natale.