Healthy Building Checklists
This is the second in a series of blogs diving deeper into the Healthy Building Rating System’s Healthy Home Standard. There are four healthy building checklists within the Healthy Home Standard: Qualification Checklist, Indoor Air Quality Checklist, Electromagnetic Radiation Checklist, and Water Quality Checklist.
This blog reviews the first and perhaps most important of the healthy building checklists, the Qualification Checklist. Passing this checklist without finding any of the prohibited concerns is a prerequisite for pursuing certification through the Healthy Home Standard. I find this checklist a useful guideline for others asking “when do I need a healthy building inspection?” Because any of these potential problems are obvious red flags about the health-supporting nature of the building.
Much of the text below is taken directly from the Healthy Home Standard.
The Qualification Checklist
Inspect and assess for the following before proceeding to test the home or calculate a letter grade based on Checklists and verification testing. The presence of any of the following results in an immediate overall letter grade of F for the home until the Action required is completed. Before performing any additional verification testing, each of these items must be evaluated and deemed a “pass” until no further action is required.
- Natural gas or propane odor is present in the air in the house due to a leak at a fitting, stove burner that does not shut off, leaky boiler or leaky hot water heater controller. Testing Method: Check fittings and appliances using a Tiff combustible gas meter or equivalent. Action Required: Repair leaks.
- A mal-odor is present either from mold, sewer gas, building materials, furnishings or an unknown source. Testing Method: Olfactory (a.k.a. “sniff test”). Action Required: Identify and mitigate source.
- An odor is present from fragrance. Testing Method: Olfactory. Action Required: Unplug and discard any plug-ins or other types of chemical air fresheners.
- An odor is present from ozone-producing air cleaners. Testing Method: Olfactory or Observation of air cleaner. Action Required: Unplug device.
- An odor is present from mothballs. Testing Method: Olfactory/Observation. Action Required: Discard mothballs.
- If an outdoor air intake is present on the HVAC system, the damper is closed or the system is off or malfunctioning in a manner that fresh outdoor air in not being introduced.
- Visible mold is present. Testing Method: Visual. Action Required: Open damper, turn on unit or make repairs.
- Carbon monoxide is detected (Note: Carbon monoxide may be detected from an outdoor source. Indoor readings should not be higher than outdoor readings. Any deviation from outdoors should be investigated.) Testing Method: Professional CO meter. Action Required: Identify source(s) and eliminate.
- The interior of the HVAC system is dirty, the lining inside the system is burnt or deteriorating lining or the filters are dirty or missing. Testing Method: Visual. Action Required: Clean system, replace lining if necessary.
- Pesticides are being used or stored on the property. Testing Method: Visual inspection. Action Required: Properly dispose of pesticides. Implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan.
- Water damage is visible or an active moisture problem is present. Testing Method: Visual inspection by a “professional” using a moisture meter. Action Required: Find and eliminate sources of moisture. Mold contamination inspection done by a qualified professional.
- A/C coils or drain pan are dirty or not draining properly. Testing Method: Visual inspection. Action Required: Clean, modify as necessary.
- Compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs, also known as energy saving light bulbs, are being used. These contain mercury, radiate EMF, and cause headaches from light flicker. Testing Method: Visual inspection. Action Required: Discard. Contact local municipality regarding safe disposal of mercury-containing materials.
- House was built before 1978. Testing Method: Age of home. Action Required: A lead-based paint assessment should be done by a professional with the right credentials for your area.
- House was built before 1979. Testing Method: Age of home. Action Required: Professional assessment in regard for the need for an asbestos survey, particularly if there are friable materials in poor condition.
Healthy Building Qualification Checklist
Building biologists thought that these basic qualifiers should be met before a home can even consider certification. “The intention here is to avoid giving a home an “A” in air quality just because a visual inspection and air quality testing indicate clean conditions, even though, for example, one can smell an abnormal and possibly offensive odor.”
We’ve alluded to other building inspector environmental checklists, and much of that blog post came from this Healthy Home Qualification Checklist. We’ll revisit the other three healthy building checklists in subsequent blog posts. Please stay tuned…
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