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Industry Developments

The APPG on Healthy Homes and Buildings was established in March 2016 to highlight the health and cost benefits of constructing homes and buildings to the highest levels of comfort and energy efficiency.

Considering people typically spend 90% of their time inside buildings creating comfortable environmental conditions is critical for key outcomes such as health and wellbeing.

The APPG believes homes and buildings should be warm, dry and well-lit and above all be healthy. Efficient buildings require less energy to heat which reduces costs and carbon emissions. Healthy buildings saves lives and reduce costs to the NHS.

In October 2018 the APPG published the “Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings” White Paper which can be downloaded here.

On 13 May 2019 the White Paper was discussed by the APPG and Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP at Westminster Hall. Minutes of the meeting can be downloaded here.

An Infographic of the White Paper can be downloaded here

Objectives of APPG

Cost Benefits of Healthy Homes and Buildings

Treating medical conditions associated with poor housing will save millions of pounds and thousands of lives. According to the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, poor housing conditions have a detrimental impact on health and cost the NHS at least £600 million per year. A 2012 report by Age UK suggested that cold homes cost the NHS £1.36 billion per year whilst a 2016 report by National Energy Action demonstrates that the cost could be as high as £3.6 million per day.

Create Powerful Advocacy

Despite the high profile debate around housing, health and the effects of climate change (e.g. flooding) there is little mention in the media of the benefits of building and investing in healthy and comfortable homes. The APPG is focussed on building advocacy and raising the profile of the many social and health problems caused as a result of unhealthy homes and buildings.

The APPG provides a forum to bring together influencers and decision makers at local and national level to raise the profile of the problem and to work together to improve the lives of people across the UK. The APPG exists to help make people’s lives better and that this can be achieved by working closely with the Group sponsors and wider political and industry stakeholders.

Provide Better Coordination

There is a wide range of central and local agencies involved in housing. There is a need for better co-ordination between these groups and comprehensive guidance to help local authorities to improve standards and build healthy housing stock.

What are Unhealthy Homes & Buildings

If a home or building is cold, damp, poorly lit, noisy and unsafe the occupants are more likely to suffer health and wellbeing problems and become ill. If they already have health problems, an unhealthy home is going to make them worse. Families who live in an unhealthy home and/or who can’t afford to keep their home warm are rightly concerned that their children are more likely to suffer health problems and a consequent deterioration in their educational attainment. The attributes of an unhealthy home are:

Unsafe

  • Falls are one of the biggest hazards in the home. Removing trip hazards and simple heating repairs to improve warmth could reduce the number of visits to A&E and acute hospital stays.
  • Almost half of all childhood accidents are associated with physical conditions in the home. Families living in properties that are in poor physical condition are more likely to experience a fire in the home.

 

Damp, cold and noisy

  • Too many homes are damp and cold. A house full of mould combined with the stress of trying to get it sorted can trigger anxiety and depression or worse. Those with respiratory problems such as asthma will take more time off work or school due to illness. Good lighting and air quality are equally important to health.
  • Adults in poor quality housing are more likely to report low mental health compared with those living in good quality housing
  • Pensioners in bad housing are more likely to have bad or very bad health compared with those in good housing

 

Parliamentary activity

Indoor air pollution, and the health issues relating to poor indoor air quality, are rising up the Parliamentary agenda. Use the links below to monitor indoor air mentions in Parliament and see the Members of Parliament who have publicly supported better indoor air quality.

  • Search Parliamentary questions on indoor air – click here.
  • Search indoor air in Hansard, the official record of the House of Commons – click here.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) began scoping ‘Indoor Air Quality at Home’ in early 2017. The scope was published in September 2017 and the draft consultation document was published in June 2019. The final guidance is expected to be published in December 2019.

The guidance follows on from the government’s Clean Air Strategy published in January which aims to tackle all sources of air pollution and make the air healthier to breathe. IAQ is a key part of this with the strategy proposing a number of simple measures to reduce air pollutants in the home, including more effective ventilation.

The ‘Indoor Air Quality at Home’ draft consultation document can be downloaded here.

The document encourages homeowners, landlords and local authorities to be aware of indoor air pollution and to take steps to reduce occupant exposure to indoor pollutants thus protecting their health and wellbeing.

The document affirms the critical role ventilation plays in removing pollutants and improving indoor air quality and states ventilation must be effective.  It also provides advice on how to reduce damp and condensation in the home and recommends whole house strategies that use mechanical ventilation where possible (such as PIV for retrofitting into existing homes and MVHR/MEV for new/self builds).

The document states toddlers, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly are most vulnerable groups to the effects of pollution and poor ventilation. It also states the housing conditions that increase the risk of exposure to indoor air pollution including living in close proximity to high levels of outdoor air pollution, living in overcrowded properties with ineffective ventilation, and living in homes with condensation and mould.

For specifiers, architects, builders and retrofitters in both private and public sectors the document recommends whole house strategies that both ventilate and purify the indoor air and optimise energy efficiency .For local authorities the document advises embedding a plan for improving IAQ into existing strategies.

Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest mass participation air pollution campaign

The annual Clean Air Day is coordinated by Global Action Plan, on behalf of various supporting organisations, including royal medical colleges, NHS trusts, local authorities, universities and health charities.

The aim is to bring together individuals, communities, businesses, education and the health sector to:

  • improve public understanding of the sources of air pollution, both indoors and outdoors
  • build awareness of how air pollution affects our health
  • explain some of the easy things we can all do to tackle air pollution
  • encourage people to try something different and make lifestyle choices that help to protect the environment and health too

 

Global Action Plan believes that people’s choices and voices have a crucial role to play in tackling air pollution. Choosing to drive less, switch to electric vehicles, and burn less fuel at home, for example, can help to bring down pollution to safer levels.

What is involved

  • Public information portal: www.cleanairday.org.uk is the UK’s go-to public information website on air pollution with easily accessible advice and ‘how to’ guides for organisations wanting to take part in Clean Air Day.
  • Face-to-face: Global Action Plan supports organisations across the country to encourage pollution-busting behaviour and the sharing of information on air quality and health through face-to-face activities.
  • Press and social media: through stories in the media and a social media campaign, Global Action Plan generates public interest, promoting pollution-cutting behaviour and encouraging the sharing of information on air quality and health.

2018

The campaign started with a story about the London Marathon in late April. Global Action Plan’s research revealed a massive 89% drop in the capital’s air pollution on the day of the Marathon when the streets were closed off to traffic.

Over the following months more new research was produced about:

  • awareness of the dangers of air pollution in our homes
  • how car engine cold starts double air pollution
  • the health costs of air pollution from cars and vans
  • how young children are being exposed to 30% more air pollution than adults while walking to school

Key outcomes

  • More than 2,000 organisations, and tens of thousands of individuals took part in more than 550 events across the UK.
  • Many people took up the Clean Air Day challenge to walk or cycle to work, college or school.
  • In Edinburgh, they closed off the Mound to traffic for the morning, landscaping and installing benches to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. In Manchester, a hospital ran free bike maintenance sessions for its 3,000 staff.
  • Portsmouth gave away free park-and-ride tickets to encourage people to use more public transport.
  • In Lambeth, London, as part of a week of events, a school installed a screen of ivy to protect it from pollution from a nearby road.
  • The campaign generated more than 1,750 media items and 50,000 social posts, including those from MPs and ministers. Total media and social media reach was more than 950 million for the 2018 campaign, and on Clean Air Day itself, #cleanairday trended on Twitter for 8 hours.
  • Did all this attention work? Before, and after, Clean Air Day opinion polls indicated that public understanding of key air pollution issues increased over the period of the campaign. And more people started doing things to cut air pollution.
  • Findings included more awareness of the dangers of indoor air pollution following the campaign, up by 12% to 74% of respondents, while 45% people questioned are now aware that cyclists and pedestrians often breathe cleaner air than drivers.
  • The same findings revealed that 22% chose to cycle or walk a route they had previously driven, compared to 16% before the campaign, an increase of 37%, and 71% now open windows for ventilation when they are cooking or cleaning, an increase of 22%.

 

Following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, the Government asked Dame Judith Hackitt to lead a review of building regulations and fire safety. The Hackitt Review reported in May 2018 which was followed by the Implementation Plan published by the Government in December 2018 with details of planned changes or consultations to building regulations.

Click here for House of Commons Briefing Paper 8482 dated 22 May 2019: Building Regulations and Safety: Review and Reforms

Click here for Foreword and Executive Summary: Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report