IAQ Radio: Kevin Kennedy MPH, CIEC & Larry Zarker – CEO of BPI – Healthy Housing Principles Reference Guide

Healthy Homes


Kevin Kennedy is an Environmental Hygienist and the Program Director of the Environmental Health Program at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. The center works in patient homes, schools and childcare facilities providing environmental health assessments, consulting, training, education and performs research in indoor environmental health. Mr. Kennedy has worked in the environmental health science field for over 30 years. He is a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant and teaches courses on the healthy housing principles, environmental assessment and investigation, environmental measurement and sampling and building science.

Larry Zarker is the CEO of the Building Performance Institute, the professional standards setting and credentialing organization for both the weatherization and home performance contracting industries. He oversees BPI’s national network of over 12,000 certified professionals and BPI GoldStar contracting companies. He helped found and served on the Board of Directors of Efficiency First, the trade association for America’s home performance workforce. Prior to BPI, he worked for nearly twenty years with the NAHB Research Center and was the Vice President of Marketing for over a decade, serving both the new home and remodeling sectors with innovative product development and research.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

How did the HHP Reference Guide come about?

Larry – The HHP Reference Guide is new. It is for the new Certificate of Knowledge that BPI has developed and made available. The intent is that people can read the book, maybe take a training course on the HHP and sit for an exam that provides a certificate of knowledge. This is of value to a variety of professions.

Kevin – Ongoing research into the importance of Healthy Homes is going on in the US and other countries. In the last ~5 years, The US Dept. of Energy (DOE) has broadened its interest from energy efficiency and building performance to include more emphasis on IAQ, comfort and health.

Kevin – Changing ventilation, air sealing improves the ability to better control and improve IEQ.

Kevin – Energy Performance + Healthy Homes is trendy, even healthcare and health insurers are on board.

Kevin – Healthcare takes an average of 17 years to adopt a new practice. Dr. Jay Portnoy, MD has pioneered the connection between health and environment in the allergy world and has been advocating the importance of healthy homes and home assessments for over 20 years.

Kevin – Social determinants of health. Medicare and medical managed care systems are discussing how to support having programs screen their patients about housing and other issues that might impact health. Only Missouri has adopted a policy to reimburse for home environmental assessments related to asthma. In MO, docs can refer to a state registered assessor to visit a home.

Kevin – There is a movement toward prevention and preventative care. Any health insurance or managed care company could technically pay for healthy home assessments as a preventative program.

Larry – COVID shutdown the BPI network. Fieldwork ground to a halt. Some trades such as: HVAC, plumbing and electrical were deemed as essential. Others are returning to fieldwork now with COVID safe practices.

Larry – Job one for Steve Skodak the new CEO of the Building Performance Association (BPA) was to cancel their live conference. Fortunately, he had the skillset to take the event virtual. 1700 people participated. Some sessions had 700-800 attendees. Bob Krell, ran the event.

BPA is keeping the momentum going by pivoting from one national conference to 4 regional conferences.

Larry – Health and Safety was always part of BPI’s work. BPI was well ahead of the curve, creating a Healthy Home Evaluator program which the market wasn’t ready for, there are 400 Healthy Home Evaluators. The Healthy Housing Principles Guide broadens the scope of the program. Options to purchase the book or take the Certificate exam online. Holders of a BPI certification can take the course and receive 8 CEUs. In Washington State’s, Tacoma Pierce county groups of community health workers and weatherization grantees with the BPI HHE certification have collaborated to document quality of life improvements in homes of asthmatics.

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