Self-reported health outcomes associated with green-renovated public housing among primarily elderly residents

Jill Breysse, Sherry L. Dixon, David E. Jacobs, Jorge Lopez, William Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: Assess the benefits of green renovation on self-reported health of primarily elderly residents of a low-income public housing apartment building. Design and Setting: Using questions from the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey, we interviewed residents at baseline and 1 year after green renovation of their 101-unit building in Mankato, Minnesota, comparing self-reported mental and physical health outcomes of 2 sets of residents (all-ages: median, 66 years, n = 40; elder: median, 72 years, n=22) with outcomes for 2 same-aged low-income Minnesota comparison groups taken from Medicare Health Outcomes Survey participants (n=40 and 572, respectively). Participants: Study group: Mankato apartment building residents. Interventions: Green renovation including building envelope restoration; new heating, electrical, and ventilation systems; air sealing; new insulation and exterior cladding; window replacement; Energy-Star fixtures and appliances; asbestos and mold abatement; apartment gut retrofits; low volatile organic chemical and moisture-resistant materials; exercise enhancements; and indoor no-smoking policy. Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported health status including Activities of Daily Living and Veteran's Rand 12 (VR-12) survey results; housing condition visual assessment; indoor environmental sampling; and building performance testing. Results: The all-ages study group's mental health improved significantly more than the comparison group's mental health on the basis of mean number of good mental health days in the past month (P =.026) and mean VR-12 mental component score (P =.023). Sixteen percent fewer all-ages study group people versus 8% more comparison group people reported falls (P =.055). The elder study group's 9% improvement in general physical health was not statistically significantly better than the elder comparison group's decline (6%) (P = 0.094). Significantly fewer people in the all-ages group reported smoke in their apartments because of tobacco products (20% vs 0%, P =.005), likely reflecting the new no-smoking policy. Conclusions: Green healthy housing renovation may result in improved mental and general physical health, prevented falls, and reduced exposure to tobacco smoke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Elderly
  • Enterprise Green Community Criteria
  • Healthy housing
  • Medicare Health Outcomes Survey
  • Mental health


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