Climate Change Mitigation in Low-Income Communities in Colorado

HomeWeatherizationLogoThis project is designed to evaluate Colorado weatherization programs used to adapt homes in low-income communities to a changing climate against empirical evidence of respiratory health effects and measurements of indoor air quality (IAQ) and ventilation rates. Our hypotheses are that (1) the weatherization of homes tightens the building shell and reduces ventilation rates, which will be associated with adverse respiratory health effects; and (2) during large wildfires, which are increasing in number and magnitude due to climate change, the particulate levels in homes that are weatherized by tightening the building shell will be lower compared to non-weatherized homes.

To test our hypotheses, we will partner with the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) weatherization program agencies for low-income residents to recruit at least 250 homes over 1.5 years. In 125 single-family homes that have had weatherization improvements and 125 single-family homes that have not been weatherized we will assess, through a combination of questionnaires, lung function testing, household walkthrough, and blower door testing the home characteristics and respiratory health of the residents. Lung function will be documented with forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) measurements. Weatherized and non-weatherized homes will be selected in neighborhood pairs and non-weatherized homes will be screened using the income-eligibility requirements of the weatherization programs. On a subset of 30 homes (15 weatherized, and 15 not weatherized), we will continue assessment during prolonged wildfires to explore impacts on IAQ. In the subset of homes, we will measure temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, and particulate matter both indoors and outdoors of the homes during and after wildfires. Home ventilation rates will be estimated using a model linking weather data and leakage area.

Visit the project webpage.

This project is in collaboration with:
Shelly Miller (Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder)
John Adgate and Elizabeth Carlton (Colorado School of Public Health)

Funding
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Award #R835752, 2014-2017