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7

HEALTHY LIVING ENVIRONMENT

7. HEALTHY LIVING ENVIRONMENT

REDUCING EXPOSURE TO ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS (Criteria 7.1 – 7.6)

7.1

Mandatory for New Construction and Substantial Rehab

Radon Mitigation

RATIONALE

Radon is a radioactive gas generated by the natural decay of uranium in the soil and rock below and around buildings. It can enter homes through holes and cracks. Breathing radon gas increases the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States.

Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after smoking. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer. The only way to know if homes have elevated radon levels is to test. Testing is easy and inexpensive, and elevated radon levels can be reliably mitigated, if necessary, with simple, durable, and commonly available materials and techniques.

REQUIREMENTS

New Construction

In EPA Zone 1 areas, install passive radon-resistant features below the slab. Also install a vertical vent pipe with junction box within 10 feet of an electrical outlet in case an active system should prove necessary in the future.

Exception: Buildings with garages attached to a foundation system do not require soil gas vent systems if compliant with ANSI/ASHRAE 62.1, Sections 5.15 and 6.5 for ventilation and pressurization of enclosed spaces surrounding the garage.

Substantial Rehab

Test Substantial Rehab projects located in EPA Zone 1 areas under the supervision of a radon professional for the presence of radon in accordance with ANSI-AARST MAMF-2017 for multifamily buildings or ANSI-AARST MAH-2014 for single-family homes. In time-sensitive situations, consistent with HUD’s radon policy, a radon professional may sample a minimum of 25% of randomly selected ground-level dwelling units.

If the radon level is above the EPA action level of 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter), install radon-reduction measures per ANSI-AARSTR RMS-MF 2018 for multifamily buildings or SGM-SF-2017 for homes.

After all rehab work is complete, test again. For post-test levels between 4 and 10 pCi/L, consider a long-term test (minimum 90 days) to confirm an increase before undertaking the mitigation process. Then, if radon levels after renovation are ≥ 4 pCi/L AND higher than the radon levels before upgrades, install mitigation in accordance with ANSI-AARST RMS-MF 2018 for multifamily or, for homes, either ANSI-AARST SGM-SF-2017 or ASTM 2121.

A radon professional shall have:

  • Certification from either the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists’ (AARST) National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB), and
  • Certification/license from the state in which the testing or mitigation work is being conducted, if the state has this requirement.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • For new construction properties, refer to these standards for construction guidelines. ANSI-AARST Standard: Reducing Radon in New Construction: 1 & 2 Family Dwellings and Townhouses, CCAH- 2013, and ANSI-AARST Standard: Soil Gas Control Systems in New Construction, CC-1000-2018, for larger buildings.

  • Short-term tests offer an affordable screening method for many homes. Longer-term testing may provide a more accurate representation of the annual exposure to radon and the need for mitigation. If short-term results are between 2 and 10 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), consider conducting a long- term radon test (minimum 90 days).

  • Elevated levels of radon have been found in homes built in all three zones on EPA’s Map of Radon Zones. Consult your state radon program for current information about radon in your area.

  • A radon vent fan should be installed when the test result is 4 pCi/L or more. EPA recommends that all homes built with radon-resistant features in EPA Radon Zone 1 pre-emptively include a radon vent fan. EPA also recommends radon-resistant features for homes built in EPA Radon Zones 2 and 3, along with testing for radon prior to occupancy.

  • Guidance for underground garages:

    • International Mechanical Code (IMC), which requires 0.75 cfm/sf for garages serving multifamily projects, and ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010 section 5.15, which encourages maintaining attached garage air pressure at or below adjacent occupiable spaces.
    • If the pressure management strategy is not designed to continually maintain negative pressure in the underground garage space relative to the occupied spaces (i.e., if a timer is used for exhaust fan control), then radon control is not assured. In such situations, use either the radon-resistant New Construction techniques summarized in Interactive Planning (IAP) spec 2.1 (www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-03/documents/indoor_airplus_cons...) and detailed further in EPA guidance and /or test the occupied space for radon.
    • If the underground garage does not cover the entire foundation (i.e., some living space is directly above a slab or crawlspace), then those portions of the project should be handled per Indoor airPLUS specs.
    • Any mechanical or service closets in the garage area that are connected to the conditioned enclosure should be aggressively sealed between the garage and the conditioned space.
  • For projects located on brownfields or proximate to industrial operations that are not in EPA Zone 1, consider testing for radon to determine if elevated levels exist on-site. If the radon level is elevated above 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter), install radon-reduction measures.

  • Preemptive radon-reduction measures include installing airtight drain fittings (e.g., trap or flange system) in the floor drains of the foundation; sealing and caulking penetrations, openings or cracks in below-grade walls and floors that contact the ground with a sealant that meets the requirements of ASTM C920; covering exposed earthen floors in basements and crawlspaces according to Section 1.2 of EPA’s Indoor airPLUS Construction Specifications; air-sealing sumps by installing an airtight sump cover in such a way that water can drain from above (e.g., with a ball valve) and below the sump cover.

RESOURCES

7.2

Mandatory

Reduce Lead Hazards in Pre-1978 Buildings

Substantial rehab on buildings constructed before 1978

RATIONALE

Lead from paint is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning, Exposure to lead dust, lead in soil and deteriorated lead-based paint poses significant risks to young children (IQ, and learning issues. In rare cases, extreme lead exposure can result in death. In homes built before 1978, the year the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-based paint, risk of exposure still exists. Opportunities exist to control those lead hazards in buildings as part of renovation projects.

REQUIREMENTS

Conduct lead risk assessment or inspection to identify lead hazards. Control identified lead hazards using lead abatement or interim controls, using lead-safe work practices that minimize and contain dust. Follow EPA or state and/or local laws and requirements, where applicable. Alternatively, follow standard lead treatments defined by HUD as a series of hazard reduction measures designed to reduce all lead-based paint hazards in a dwelling unit without the benefit of a risk assessment or other evaluation (25 CFR 34.110).

Check state or local regulations for additional requirements for lead-safe work pertaining to prohibited practices, notification, worker training and certification and clearance dust training.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Replace windows that have deteriorated lead-based paint with energy-efficient windows.
  • A lead inspection should be undertaken by an EPA certified risk assessor to determine whether paint in a rehab project contains lead, otherwise paint should be presumed to contain lead and lead-safe work practices are required.

  • Perform dust lead clearance testing at the conclusion of renovation work; compare against EPA dust lead clearance standards.

  • Remove or cover lead-contaminated soil so that it is inaccessible to children. For gardening, use raised beds with lead-free soil.

RESOURCES

7.3

Mandatory

Combustion Equipment

RATIONALE

Direct-vent appliances bring outdoor air through a sealed pipe and help exhaust combustion products directly outdoors through another hard-piped vent. No indoor air is used, so there is very little risk of spillage or back-drafting. Power-vented appliances rely on indoor air, but use a fan to push exhaust products through the flue to the outside. These are much less susceptible to spillage and back-drafting than conventional units.

REQUIREMENTS

For new construction and rehab projects, specify power-vented or direct-vent equipment when installing any new combustion appliance for space or water heating that will be located within the conditioned space.

If there are any combustion appliances in the conditioned space, install one hard-wired carbon monoxide (CO) alarm with battery backup function for each sleeping zone, placed per National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72.

In Substantial and Moderate Rehabs, if there is any combustion equipment located within the conditioned space for space or water heating that is not power-vented or direct-vent and that is not scheduled for replacement, conduct combustion safety testing prior to and after the retrofit. Conduct the combustion safety testing for central systems and for 10% of these individual dwelling unit systems per RESNET Guidelines for Combustion Safety and Developing Work Orders or BPI Combustion Safety Test Procedures for Vented Appliances. Report any deficiencies immediately to the owner or owner’s representative in any failed tested system.

This criterion does not apply to projects without any combustion equipment (i.e., space and water heating equipment, cook tops, dryers, or any other combustion equipment) nor to projects with combustion equipment located only in detached utility buildings or open-air facilities.

RECOMMENDATIONS

CO and smoke detectors may be hard wired to the heating and domestic hot water system (DHW) system, thus activating if that equipment malfunctions.

RESOURCES

7.4

Mandatory

Garage Isolation

RATIONALE

Carbon monoxide inhalation can be dangerous to human health. The air barrier and air sealing will help prevent carbon monoxide migration from the garage to the living space, and the CO alarm will help ensure that residents are alerted in the case of accidental accumulation of the gas.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Provide a continuous air barrier between the conditioned space and any garage space to prevent the migration of contaminants into the living space. Visually inspect common walls and ceilings between attached garages and living spaces to ensure that they are air-sealed before insulation is installed.

  • Do not install ductwork or air handling equipment for the conditioned space in a garage.

  • Fix all connecting doors between conditioned space and garage with gaskets, or otherwise make substantially airtight with weather stripping.

  • Install one hard-wired carbon monoxide (CO) alarm with battery backup function for each sleeping zone of the project, placed per NFPA 72, unless the garage is mechanically ventilated or an open parking structure as defined by code

RECOMMENDATIONS

Refer to ASHRAE 62.1 for garage contaminant isolation measures.

RESOURCES

7.5

Mandatory

Integrated Pest Management

RATIONALE

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an approach to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. While pest damage can be, and is often, controlled through application of pesticides, IPM is a more holistic approach with applications in building design, construction, and operations. Incorporating pest prevention in the design of new buildings and in retrofits increases the durability of the building and, in the end, saves time and money by proactively taking steps to prevent conditions that attract pests. Sealing of cracks and penetrations will minimize entry points for pests such as rodents and cockroaches. Exposure to allergens from pests is linked with asthma and respiratory issues. Rodents may also carry diseases.

Avoiding unnecessary pesticides, improving resident housekeeping, and promptly responding to pest problems and conditions that contribute to pests will reduce the chemicals needed to treat pests and will keep homes pest-free longer than solely relying on a routine chemical treatment program.

REQUIREMENTS

Design for easy inspection of all pest-prone areas (interior and exterior), and engineer slabs and foundations to minimize pest entry.

Seal all wall, floor and joint penetrations with low-VOC caulking or other appropriate nontoxic sealing methods (window screens, door sweeps, escutcheon plates, elastomeric sealants) to prevent pest entry. Use rodent- and corrosion-proof screens (e.g., copper or stainless steel mesh or rigid metal cloth) for openings greater than ¼-inch. Also pay close attention to sealing off entry points under kitchen and bathroom sinks.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Refer to Maintenance and Resident Manuals (Criteria 8.1 and 8.3) for complementary practices.

  • Plan exterior surfaces, lighting, drainage, and landscaping to minimize the attractiveness of the site to pests.

  • Preventive pest management work should be completed in conjunction with air sealing. Project teams should work with an air sealing contractor and a pest management professional to ensure that IPM strategies are part of the scope.

  • Hire a pest management professional (PMP) with experience in integrated pest management to work with the general contractor and trades and to combine pest prevention activities into the contractor scopes of work.

  • Rehabilitation of an existing building provides the opportunity to address physical barriers that make handling garbage difficult. Engage with residents and building maintenance staff to identify and correct problems with the collection and storage of waste (e.g., inadequate space in trash rooms, narrow stairs, improper signage, unsafe access to exterior trash receptacles). Also, before the rehab, consider engaging with a pest management professional to inspect the building, review resident feedback, and provide a report on pest conditions and corrective recommendations.
  • Consider hiring a PMP with experience in integrated pest management to work with the contractor and combine pest prevention activities as part of the contractor’s scope of services. PMP qualifications to consider include GreenShield or QualityPro certified; association membership with a national or state pest management association; PMP certification: Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) or Board Certified Entomologist (BCE).

RESOURCES

7.6

Mandatory and Optional | 10 points

Smoke-Free Policy

RATIONALE

Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country, is a common asthma trigger, and also is associated with coronary artery disease. Air filtration and ventilation systems do not eliminate the health hazards caused by secondhand smoke. Smoke from one unit may seep through the cracks, be circulated by a shared ventilation system or otherwise enter the living space of another. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition to the negative health effects, smoking significantly increases fire hazards and increases cleaning and maintenance costs.

REQUIREMENTS

Mandatory for all properties

Implement and enforce a smoke-free policy in all common areas and within a 25-foot perimeter around the exterior of all residential projects, or up to the property line if the parcel does not allow for a 25-foot distance. Lease language must prohibit smoking in these locations and provide a graduated enforcement policy. Smoking should be considered a minor lease violation. The smoke-free policy applies to all owners, tenants, guests and service people. The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited wherever smoking is prohibited.

Include the smoke-free policy, harms of smoking, and how the policy will be enforced, in readily available materials for residents, staff, and visitors.

Optional [10 points]

Expand the policy above to include all indoor spaces in the property.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Ensure that staff are trained on the policy so that it is enforced in a consistent manner and that staff (not tenants) are solely responsible for policy enforcement.

  • Eviction should only be a last resort in response to a smoke-free violation, and a graduated enforcement policy emphasizes communication to residents about the policy and its impacts. Through graduated enforcement, you may reset the enforcement steps after a set time period without another violation, include a reasonable accommodation policy, and include steps such as:

     
    • First offense: verbal warning and reminder of property’s smoke-free policy
    • Second offense: written warning
    • Third offense: more serious warning paired with requirements for resident to demonstrate that they are moving toward compliance
    • Fourth offense: strenuous warning, cleaning fee comparable to costs required for unit turn, and more strenuous requirements for resident to demonstrate that they are moving toward compliance
  • If implementing a no-smoking policy in an occupied building, plan on a 12-18 month resident engagement effort and a pre-quit campaign. Excellent resources exist—see Resources below.

  • If working with a new or an unoccupied building, all building marketing materials should clearly state the smoke-free policy. Project owners and managers should inform residents that they are prohibited from smoking in or around the property. This information should be incorporated into the Resident Manual as well as manuals for building management and maintenance staff (see Criteria 8.1 and 8.3).

  • Effectively communicate the rationale for implementing the no-smoking policy to residents, with particular attention to and education around the harms of second- and third-hand smoking.

  • Provide resources and education around smoking cessation. See Resources for more information.

  • Consider including a designated, lit, outdoor smoking area as an alternative arrangement for those who smoke or vape. Design this area to be as attractive as possible, provide shelter from the elements, and be accessible for users with various forms of mobility in order to encourage smokers to smoke in this location rather than inside the building or within the 25-foot-perimeter no-smoking buffer area.

  • Provide suitable receptacles in the designated outdoor smoking area for the disposal of cigarette butt litter. Ensure that the receptacles are inside the project line and do not encroach into public space.

RESOURCES

MANAGING THE INDOOR ENVIRONMENT (Criteria 7.7 – 7.11)

7.7

Mandatory: New Construction and Substantial Rehab Optional: Moderate Rehab | 12 points maximum

Ventilation

RATIONALE

Optimal ventilation improves indoor air quality, contributing to a healthier living environment.

Properly sized and controlled exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens remove moisture-laden air, lowering the potential for indoor mold growth that may yield odors, pose health hazards to residents, and create durability concerns. Kitchen fans also help remove carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide over fuel-burning appliances and other air contaminants that may be byproducts of cooking. And ENERGY STAR-qualified bathroom fans use 65% less energy on average than standard models and move more air per unit of energy used with less noise. Timers and humidistat sensors help to ensure that fans regularly remove moisture and provide adequate ventilation.

REQUIREMENTS

For each dwelling unit, in full accordance with ASHRAE 62.2-2010, install:

  • A local mechanical exhaust system in each bathroom [3 points if Moderate Rehab]

  • A local mechanical exhaust system in each kitchen [3 points if Moderate Rehab]

  • A whole-house mechanical ventilation system [3 points if Moderate Rehab]

Verify and ensure that these dwelling unit ventilation system flow rates are either within +/- 15 CFM or +/- 15% of design value.

Note:

  1. Local exhaust airflow may be credited toward the whole-house ventilation airflow requirement when local exhaust fans are used to provide whole-house mechanical ventilation.
  2. For Substantial and Moderate Rehab projects, particularly those of a historic or landmark nature, consult Appendix A of ASHRAE 62.2-2010 for compliance options for ventilation in existing buildings.
  3. Projects that achieve certification with Passive House Institute United States (PHIUS+) are permitted to follow the Passive House ventilation requirements as an alternative to meeting the Criterion 7.7 ventilation requirements as they relate to kitchens, so long as there are no combustion fueled appliances within the dwelling unit and at minimum there is a continuous kitchen exhaust rate of 25 CFM per 2009 IRC Table M1507.3.

Also, for each multifamily building of four stories or more, in full accordance with ASHRAE 62.1-2010, install a mechanical ventilation system for all hallways and common spaces [3 points if Moderate Rehab]

All Project Types

  • All systems and associated ductwork must be installed per manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • All individual bathroom fans must be ENERGY STAR-labeled. If not running continuously, these must either be wired to turn on with the light switch or equipped with a humidistat sensor, timer or other control (e.g., occupancy sensor, delay off switch, ventilation controller) to ensure adequate run-time.

  • If using central ventilation systems with rooftop fans, each rooftop fan must be direct-drive and variable-speed with speed controller mounted near the fan. Fans with design CFM 300-2000 must also have an ECM motor.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • For climate-specific strategies, consult ASHRAE 62.2-2010 and the Resources below.

  • Install MERV 13 or high rated filters for outdoor air ventilation equipment, particularly in geographic locations where the outdoor air exceeds the national standards for particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10) or ozone, and/or within 500 feet of busy streets and highways.

  • Avoid exhaust-only ventilation strategies in Climate Zones 1-4A, to limit uncontrolled intake of humid air.

  • Avoid exceeding ventilation requirements, particularly when using local exhaust. Excessive exhaust may depressurize dwelling units, potentially back-drafting combustion appliances.

  • Proper installation of each ventilation system is as critical as its design to its performance. Consult the Resources below for best-practice installation techniques. Also consider testing exhaust fan performance as soon as power is available: Hold two squares of toilet paper to the exhaust fan. If, when on, the fan can hold these squares, as a rule of thumb you may assume that the fan is pulling 50 CFM. If the fan is not able to hold the squares of toilet paper, examine the fan’s installation.

  • Placing a single multi-port, in-line fan in each dwelling unit to exhaust air from the kitchen and bathroom(s) is an acceptable ventilation strategy. If utilizing this strategy, in addition to meeting local code requirements for the minimum distance of thru-wall exhaust vents from windows, ensure that the placement of the exhaust grill meets code requirements for kitchen ventilation.

  • With continuous, demand-controlled or other centralized ventilation systems, the project team (specifically, the designer, installer, and maintenance staff) should ensure that the systems are balanced from unit to unit to meet the requirements of ASHRAE 62.2-2010. Also, consider installing fans with ECM motors for fans designed to exhaust more than 250 CFM.

  • Consider the following mechanical controls for introducing outside air:

    • Flow control/butterfly damper to regulate the amount of air introduced through an outside air intake.

    • Shut-off damper (electronic or barometric) to close an outside air intake when the HVAC system is not calling for air.

    • Fan timer/cycler on the HVAC system to regulate the length of time an outside air intake remains open.

RESOURCES

  • ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2010. This site provides a viewable version of ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2010. www.ashrae.org/technology/page/548
  • Residential Building Systems, Ventilate Right: Ventilation Guide for New and Existing California Homes. This site provides a thorough, user-friendly guide to installing ventilation systems in accordance with ASHRAE 62.2 as well as best practices in ventilation system design and installation. Equally applicable to projects outside the state of California. https://homes.lbl.gov/ventilate-right
  • Building America Solution Center. This searchable database includes pictorial guides for best practices in ventilation system design and installation. https://basc.pnnl.gov/resource-guides
  • Building Science Corporation, Review of Residential Ventilation Technologies. This report reviews current and potential ventilation technologies for residential projects, with particular emphasis on North American climates and construction. www.buildingscience.com/documents/reports

  • Home Ventilating Institute (HVI), Ventilation Systems and Controls. The HVI provides consumers an assurance of product performance. It also works to increase public awareness of the need for good ventilation and provides resources for selecting the proper ventilation products. www.hvi.org/

  • University of Minnesota, Common Questions about Heat and Energy Recovery Ventilators. This site provides a brief, easy-to-understand overview of heat- and energy-recovery ventilators. www.mnshi.umn.edu/kb/scale/hrverv.html

7.8

Mandatory for properties in Climate Zones 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A following Criterion 5.2a, 5.2b, or 5.4
Optional for all other properties | 5 points

Dehumidification

RATIONALE

Interior relative humidity levels above 60% are often uncomfortable and can create the conditions for growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and other biological allergens. The more energy efficient a building, the greater the need to manage its moisture flow. Often, the heating and cooling system cannot sufficiently manage a building’s temperature and moisture levels throughout the year—traditional systems are designed to manage temperature only, and they run less frequently in energy efficient homes. Supplemental dehumidification is often needed to manage the property’s moisture loads, particularly in cooling-dominated climates.

REQUIREMENTS

Option 1

Design, select, and install supplemental dehumidification equipment to keep relative humidity

OR

Option 2

Equip all dwelling units with dedicated space, drain, and electrical hook-ups for permanent supplemental dehumidification systems to be installed if needed. Install interior RH monitoring equipment (e.g., smart thermostats with hygrometers) with alerts and the ability to log humidity levels so that it may be reviewed. For multifamily properties, provide remote access for building operations and maintenance staff to monitor relative humidity and override system controls as necessary.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • As buildings become more energy efficient and loads decrease, proper sizing and thoughtful approaches to year-round moisture control become more critical in all climate zones.
  • For projects located in humid climates, supplemental dehumidification may be necessary to maintain comfort during times of high ambient relative humidity. Design a system with the capacity to meet ASHRAE requirements, and then provide additional accommodations to adjust the outside air introduced as needed. Calculate part load performance of HVAC equipment utilizing ASHRAE Dehumidification 1% Design Days when designing equipment to maintain 60% RH.

  • Use ACCA Manual LLH sizing calculations to size your systems to maintain interior RH below 60%; refer to Appendix 3 Ancillary Dehumidification for explicit latent load guidance.

  • Do not utilize electric resistance reheat as a strategy for controlling interior moisture as it will lead to high utility bills for those systems.

  • Carefully consider interior loads in your HVAC and dehumidification sizing exercises; dense properties may require more dehumidification than initially expected.

  • Consider the project’s ventilation system. While balanced systems and Energy recovery ventilation (ERV) will not necessarily eliminate the need for stand-alone dehumidification, ventilation strategies that do not exacerbate interior moisture loads are preferred.

RESOURCES

7.9

Optional | 3 points

Construction Pollution Management

RATIONALE

Left unchecked, particulate matter and air pollution produced by typical construction practices can negatively impact the health and well-being of people working with or living near the construction site.

REQUIREMENTS

Option 1

Earn the EPA Indoor airPlus label.

OR

Option 2

In all dwelling units, seal all heating, cooling, and ventilation ducts and returns throughout construction to prevent construction debris from entering.

AND

Flush all dwelling units after completion of construction and prior to occupancy either for at least 48 hours (may be nonconsecutive) with all windows and interior doors open and all HVAC fans running or with at least 14,000 ft3 per ft2 of floor area, then replace all air handling equipment filters.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Consider testing dwelling unit air quality to ensure that desired performance levels are achieved.

7.10

Optional | 3 points

Noise Reduction

RATIONALE

Exposure to traffic noise over time poses a risk to adults and is linked to complications with cardiovascular system, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, depression, and high blood pressure. In children, chronic aircraft noise exposure has been shown to impair reading comprehension, mental arithmetic, and proofreading. Continuous noise levels from internally generated noise sources (e.g., HVAC, amenities, appliances, plumbing) have the potential to increase stress, reduce focus, warrant complaints, and decrease occupant’s satisfaction with living conditions.

Impact noise and airborne sound transmission between dwelling units has been a leading complaint in multifamily real estate since its inception. With an influx of buildings designed with lightweight construction, impact noise and airborne sound transmission has become common and often results in reduced focus and increased sleep disturbance, annoyance, agitation, and stress. When considered at the onset of project design, multifamily units that apply elements of noise control are more likely to yield comfortable environments for their residents.

REQUIREMENTS

Manage internally generated noise and exterior noise intrusion within dwelling units as follows:

Option 1

Test for and demonstrate that noise levels in bedrooms meet continuous noise and single sound event limits (30 dB LAeq and 45 dB LAmax, respectively) described in the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for Community Noise.

OR

Option 2

Conduct noise assessment and provide a noise abatement plan specific to the site and covering general noise mitigation techniques in accordance with 24 CFR 51B.

OR

Option 3

Ensure all exterior wall and party wall penetrations are sealed with acoustical sealant, all party walls and floor/ceiling assemblies have an Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of at least 55, and exterior windows and doors in projects near a significant exterior noise source have an STC rating of at least 35.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Avoid locating bedrooms in areas of the building which face sources of continuous or excessive noise or near mechanical equipment rooms, rooftop mechanical units, generators, plumbing, elevator shafts, amenities, or other source of periodic or continuous operational noise.
  • Avoid the use of Packaged Terminal Air Conditione (PTAC) units in bedrooms, especially when the project site is located within an area of unacceptable noise levels in accordance with HUD (24 CFR 51B).

  • Design and install floor-ceiling assemblies as full-span assemblies connected to the walls/partitions and sealed at all flanking paths around all penetrations in accordance with ASTM C919 and sealant manufacturer’s recommendations.

  • Install or retrofit resilient underlayment, concrete slabs, and/or composite floor-ceiling constructions to meet the minimum code requirements for impact noise insulation, as applicable.

  • Consider installing sound reducing barriers.

  • Control noise from sources such as HVAC, elevators, amenities, trash chutes, plumbing, electrical components, etc. within dwelling units in accordance with ASHRAE Fundamentals Chapter 48 or ASHRAE 189.1 guidelines.

  • For proposed projects located in high noise areas, noise attenuation can be provided as part of HUD (24 CFR 51B). See Chapter 4—Noise Attenuation in HUD resource below for additional information.

  • Test building façade elements in accordance with ASTM E90 to meet the minimum level of attenuation needed to provide at least a marginally acceptable level of noise attenuation when provided at the building envelope.

  • Include building lease language with description of quiet hours or allowable usage of excessive noise sources (e.g., landscaping, music, events)

  • Where building amenities offer high-impact activities like weightlifting, treadmills, running, or similar, provide impact isulation as necessary such that sound from impacts is reduced within dwelling units. (Note: sound from heavy impact noise can travel in all directions throughout the structure of a building, not just from the floor above. It is highly recommended that a professional in acoustics provide recommendations when fitness amenities include high-impact, heavy weightlifting elements).

RESOURCES

  • 2018 International Green Construction Code powered by Standard ASHRAE 189.1-2017. The updated acoustic control section of ASHRAE 189.1-2017 offers additional guidance on noise control elements for green buildings which are most effectively adhered to during preliminary design stages. www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/bookstore/standard-189-1

  • ICC G2-2010 Guidelines for Acoustics. These guidelines offer examples, installation, and testing requirements for assessing sound transmission between vertically adjacent spaces. media.iccsafe.org/store/2015Handbook/ICC_G2-2010.pdf

  • IBC 2015 Chapter 12: Interior Environment. Section 1207 details the code minimum requirement for sound transmission and includes a link to view ICC-ES (evaluation service) providers that can provide additional support when installing resilient flooring. codes.iccsafe.org/content/IBC2015/chapter-12-interior-environment?site_type=public

III. PROMOTING HEALTH THROUGH DESIGN (Criteria 7.11 – 7.13)

COMPLIANCE

  • All projects must comply with at least one of Criterion 7.11, 7.12, or 7.13.
  • No points will be accrued for this mandatory requirement, but project teams are encouraged to pursue more than one criterion within this section, and they will be eligible for optional points for those.

  • Specific design and/or construction strategies may not be counted toward multiple criteria for optional points.

7.11

Optional | 8 points

Active Design: Promoting Physical Activity

RATIONALE

Physical inactivity increases the risk of many chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and Type 2 diabetes. Two minutes of stair climbing daily burns enough calories to prevent annual average weight gain. Common stairs also encourage social interactions and improve mental health. Climbing 20–34 floors of stairs per week (~3–5 floors per day) is associated with a reduced stroke risk of 29%, and climbing 100–150 floors of stairs per week is associated with a 10%–20% decrease in all-cause mortality.

For those residents for whom stairway travel may be dangerous due to their limited functional mobility, other key design considerations may positively influence their level of physical activity. In these instances, building or site design measures that increase either frequency or duration of physical activity are encouraged.

Child play and adult exercise reduce the risks of obesity, improve mental health, and encourage social interactions. Improving access to places for physical activity can result in a 25% increase in the number of people who exercise at least three times per week.

REQUIREMENTS

Option 1: Encouraging Everyday Stair Usage

Buildings that include stairs as the only means to travel from one floor to another—whether in a two-story single-family home or a multifamily walk-up building—are not eligible for this option.

Provide a staircase that is accessible and visible from the main lobby as well as visible and within a 25-foot walking distance from any edge of the lobby. Ensure that no turns or obstacles prevent visibility of or accessibility to the qualifying staircase from the lobby, and that the staircase is encountered before or at the same time as the elevators. Ensure that stairway lighting and finishes are consistent with, or better than, those in the building corridor to encourage use. Place point-of-decision signage at building entrance and corridor intersections to promote stair use (rather than elevator use) for health and other benefits. From the corridor, accessible staircases should be made visible by at least one of the below means:

  • Providing transparent glazing of at least 10 sq.ft. (1 square meter) at all stair doors or at a side light

  • Providing magnetic door holds on all doors leading to the stairs, as long as allowable by fire code

  • Removing door enclosures/vestibules, as long as allowable by fire code

OR

Option 2: Activity Spaces

Provide an on-site dedicated recreation space with exercise or play opportunities for adults and/or children that is open and accessible to all residents. The space must be at least 400 square feet, include adult exercise and/or children’s play equipment for a minimum of 5% of building occupants, and ensure minimum operational hours for use of 10 hours/day at least 3 days/week. Complementary resident engagement strategies may promote outdoor play, exercise, gardening, or other physical activity.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Encouraging Everyday Stair Usage

  • Consider active design strategies early on in the project, with tenants, as part of the integrative design process, and determine which features are appropriate based on the expected resident population, building characteristics, and potential related programming strategies.

  • Stairwell finishes, as well as clear and appealing visuals such as windows or artwork, provide a pleasant experience and encourage stair use for those who are able.

  • In high-rise buildings, provide an integrated vertical circulation system that incorporates stair use for travel between adjacent floors, so that elevators are used primarily for vertical travel of four floors or more.

  • Consider programming elevators so they do not return to the ground floor and do not rest in the open position when not in use.

  • While maintaining at least one (or more if required by code) ADA-accessible elevator to all floors, consider installing skip-stop elevators, where appropriate for the building.

  • Provide daylighting at each floor/roof level of the stair(s) using windows and/or skylights of at least 8 sq.ft. (1 square meter) in size. Consider fire-rated glass at egress doors at stair landings to increase lighting and encourage use and daylighting in all corridors as feasible.

  • Incorporate permanent artwork, murals, and/or music into the stair environment.

  • Incorporate natural ventilation into the stair environment.

  • For rehabs, consider working with existing patterns on the property and enhance an existing pathway or stairwell.

Activity Spaces

  • Consider active design strategies early on in the project, with tenants, as part of the integrative design process, and determine which features are appropriate based on the expected resident population, building characteristics, and potential related programming strategies.

  • Design a courtyard, garden, terrace, or roof that can serve as outdoor space for children’s play and/or adult activities.

  • Design recreation spaces for versatile use by people of a variety of ages and abilities, including landscape features when possible, as opposed to traditional playground equipment. Playspaces can be works of art and landscape architecture that provide a visual appeal and a pleasant environment for all users.

  • In the design of parks and playgrounds, create a variety of climate environments to facilitate activity in different seasons and weather conditions. Provide shaded areas as well as areas that are open to sunlight.
  • Locate physical activity spaces in a centrally visible location in the building to help increase awareness and use of these spaces, as well as a sense of safety and security.

  • Provide lights on sidewalks and active play areas to extend opportunities for physical activity into the evening.

  • Install water bottle fillers adjacent to activity spaces and supply residents with reusable water bottles.

  • Provide views to the outdoors from physical activity/play rooms.

RESOURCES

7.12

Optional | 8 points

Beyond ADA: Universal Design

RATIONALE

Universal Design has been defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design,” the Center for Universal Design (1997). As applied to residential projects, the principles of Universal Design anticipate and plan for a greater diversity of residents’ abilities and needs, both today and in the future, thereby supporting and facilitating safety, independence and connectedness for all residents, including older adults, children, and individuals who have mobility, visual, cognitive, or other impairments.

Social isolation is at epidemic levels, exacerbating mental and physical health issues, relationships and work. Lower-income populations are more likely to report feelings of loneliness. Social isolation can be a result of or exacerbated by the built environment when it is not reflective of a person’s or specific group’s needs. Our physical environment can help build social cohesion, trust, participation, and stewardship by bringing intentionality to design and developing spaces that are welcoming, accessible, inclusive, and connected. Spaces such as these, that incorporate Universal Design, combat spatial inequities, and help to build cultural resilience and improve physical and mental health outcomes.

As a framework for design, Universal Design is distinct from the goals of accessible or “barrier-free” design. More important, it is also distinct from legally mandated accessibility requirements. Local and federal accessibility laws and regulations provide a base for Universal Design but define only a minimum level of performance to serve people with disabilities. Furthermore, these laws focus overwhelmingly on requirements for wheelchair users, largely overlooking the broader spectrum of mental, physical, sensory, and cognitive needs represented in the United States today.

REQUIREMENTS

Consider your resident population and the questions answered through the Integrative Design Criterion in Category 1. Using this information, select and implement at least one of the Options below with at least three different strategies (strategies are listed in bullet form below each Option). For any strategy impacting dwelling units, include that strategy in at least 75% of the project’s dwelling units.

Option 1

Create welcoming and accessible spaces that encourage equitable use and social connections

  • Ensure high levels of even, natural, and artificial lighting within circulation and common areas (vision impaired, dementia).
  • Include universal, gender neutral restrooms available for use in common areas.

  • In properties with more than 12 units, create sub-clusters of units with no more than 12 units sharing semi-private space or entry sequence to promote connections with neighbors.

  • For shared interior or exterior spaces, include permanent essential amenities, including seating, toilets, and drinking water to promote comfort and use.

Option 2

Create spaces that are easy and intuitive to use and navigate.

  • Create approachable building entries that are welcoming, are easy to identify, promote feelings of safety, and are accessible without the use of stairs. Include a covered entryway with seating, greenery, and lighting. Include exterior signage that is prominent, visible from sidewalk, access road, or parking lot.

  • Create paths with auditory crossing signals, adequate crossing times, clear signage, visible access ramps, median refuge islands, and connections to walking, cycling, and public transit routes.

  • Make streets and paths throughout the project site universally accessible, smooth, and sufficiently wide, and provide curb cuts at street crossings and entry points, and turning radii adequate for a wheelchair or walker.

  • Create logical circulation patterns and navigability throughout the project, with particular focus on the path from the dwelling units to transit or frequently used areas. This may include continuous pathways, signage, art, lighting, and multi-sensory features to promote navigability (dementia, vision impaired, age-in-place).

  • Provide clear signage throughout the building that avoids jargon, uses clear language, incorporates a positive frame, and is multi-lingual where appropriate. Incorporate illustrations to encourage universal understanding. Signage for way-finding and other purposes should be available in the interior and exterior spaces.

  • Avoid strong patterns on floor finishes and instead provide plain, matte finishes, which will help reduce glare/shine in brightly lit conditions. Use carpets and flooring that have subtle neutral patterns (vision impaired, dementia).

  • Install light switches and power outlets that contrast in color and value with wall surfaces and have an indicator light when turned off. Mount light switches at 52 inches and power outlets at 20 inches above the finished floor (vision impaired, age-in-place).

Option 3

Promote safety and create spaces that allow for human error.

  • Install slip-resistant flooring in the common spaces, frequently used pathways, units, and entryways (wheelchair and walker, dementia, age-in-place).

  • Install grab bars to provide extra support in bathrooms, including in the shower, and in bedrooms and other areas where they would provide assistance. Mount horizontally or vertically, not on a diagonal (wheelchair and walker, vision impaired, age-in-place, dementia).

  • Install all towel bars to support the same loads that grab bars are required to by code, as they may be used accidentally as grab bars by their placement in or near tubs and showers and adjacent water closets (vision impaired, dementia, age-in-place).

  • Install thermostatic or anti-scald control faucets (hearing impaired, dementia, vision impaired).

Option 4

Create spaces that can be accessed and used with minimal physical effort.

  • Design all interior and exterior doors to be accessible without the use of steps or raised thresholds and all sloped surfaces to have proper support on both sides (wheelchair and walker, dementia, age- in-place, vision impaired).

  • Install lever handles on all doors (wheelchair and walker, dementia, vision impaired, age-in-place).

  • Install accessible bathtub or roll-in shower with hand-held adjustable shower head (wheelchair and walker, age-in-place).

  • Ensure that equipment and controls are easily navigable by all people (e.g., HVAC controls, switches, dimmers, appliances).

Option 5

Create spaces with the appropriate size and space to allow for use, whatever the user’s form of mobility, size, or posture.

  • All hallways with 42-inch clearance (wheelchair and walker)

  • Thirty-two (32) inches clear and/or 36 inches rough opening for all doors designed to allow passage through the unit, including entry doors, doors to habitable rooms or hallways, doors in walk-in closets, patio doors, and doors in utility/storage rooms larger than 48" x 48" in size (wheelchair and walker)

  • 5' x 5' diameter turning circle in kitchen and bathroom (wheelchair and walker)

  • Provide storage space adequate for wheelchairs, walkers, electric scooters, and strollers (wheelchair and walker).

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • During the integrative design process, determine which Universal Design features to incorporate based on the expected resident population.

  • Implement the selected Universal Design features in as many units as possible, if not 100%.

  • If pursuing Option 1, ensure that the common area restrooms are easily accessible. Single-occupant accessible unisex restrooms offer more flexibility, turning space, and privacy than traditional men’s and women’s restrooms with stalls.

RESOURCES

7.13

Optional | 8 points

Healing-Centered Design

RATIONALE

Physical environments affect people’s sense of worth and dignity. They can lift people up and contribute to healing from various historic, community, or life traumas. Trauma is a set of normal human responses to stressful and threatening experiences. Most people are exposed to some trauma (e.g., witnessing or experiencing violence, natural disaster, serious accident, chronic stress) in their lives and may react differently to the same event or exposure. It is important to consider the potential trauma that residents, staff, and family members may carry with them into the building and how the built environment can support healing. Spaces within and surrounding affordable housing can play a significant role to ensure that residents 1) are not re-exposed or reminded of current or past trauma, and 2) are able to move toward healing through welcoming, safe, and accommodating spaces that promote social and cultural connection.

REQUIREMENTS

Consider your resident population and the questions answered through the Integrative Design Criterion in Category 1 when evaluating the Options below. Select at least two of the Options below to implement. Implement each of the selected Options with at least two different strategies (strategies are listed in bullet form below each Option). At least one strategy for each Option must be implemented throughout at least 75% of the project’s dwelling units.

Option 1

Provide an environment that promotes feelings of real and perceived safety.

  • Review the entire design from the perspective of physical distance between people and incorporate strategies that allow residents to be in control of their physical distance from other people while also promoting opportunities for relationship and community building (ability to be in a public space without having to interact, ability to have control over your physical space, visual awareness of surroundings, and mix of social and more private spaces). These features may include wide hallways, alternative pathways, open design that allows occupants to quickly develop an understanding of what is happening elsewhere in the building, improved lines of sight, or the creation of smaller more intimate spaces near large communal spaces.

  • Review the entire design from the perspective of resident safety and incorporate strategies that allow residents to feel safe in their units and when navigating the building. This may include the reduction of blind spots, removing door undercuts (having full length doors), installation of visible and secure locks, visual connections between units and the street or exterior spaces, or no spaces without windows.

  • Review the entire design from the perspective of reliability, and incorporate strategies that allow a sense of consistency throughout the building. These features may include the presence or reliability of a resource that may have been a stressor in the past (e.g., drinking fountains, food resource), consistent and clear signage throughout the building, and uniform lighting at building entries and interior paths of travel.

Option 2

Create flexible spaces that allow for personalization and/or manipulation to meet individual and community needs. This pathway includes strategies that allow residents to alter their environment to meet their specific needs and enable the configuration of the property to adapt and change in accordance with the needs of new or long-term residents.

  • Include at least two different features that allow residents control over their environment (e.g., variable lighting, climate systems, shading devices).

  • Include resident or community personalization and agency over space and service or program offerings. This may include naming, signage, flexible art exhibit space, and programming.

  • Incorporate strategies that allow for ongoing variability in the space, such as moveable partitions to allow spaces to be used for multiple purposes or moveable furniture, allowing individual choice over how much space they have from others.

Option 3

Connect residents and staff to a living landscape and the natural environment. Include at least two of the following elements through the strategies below: plants, water, daylight, natural views.

  • Connect interior common spaces to nature by including a green wall or through configurations that allow for views of the outdoors.

  • Provide exterior common spaces that promote connection to nature through features such as a mix of planted areas and hardscape. Spaces shall be designed for comfort in all seasons/weather, easily accessible from the interior of the building, and include use-promoting resources such as, at a minimum, permanent seating and drinking water.

  • Connect the residential units to nature through either views to nature or a direct physical connection to usable outdoor space such as a patio or balcony.
  • Promote resident exposure to daylight or to indoor lighting that emulates daylight (e.g., timed lighting adjusting to natural light cycles or circadian rhythms) in units, common spaces, and hallways.

  • Allow for and provide space for residents to care for pets.

Option 4

Utilize art and culture in project design and programming and promote social connectedness.

  • Incorporate art that is generated by and reflective of the community throughout the project. Use this art as a way for residents to frame their narrative and see it reflected in their space.

  • Use design strategies in common spaces and dwelling units that are reflective of nature and the local environment through art, materials, color, pattern, and other design elements.

  • Create a story for the space that incorporates resident identity and culture into design elements, allows for residents to contribute and be engaged, and where residents can see themselves reflected in the space.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Engage residents or community stakeholders familiar with the anticipated resident population to tailor the strategies incorporated in each pathway to the needs of those anticipated residents.

As the project team designs healing-centered strategies, use the following considerations as guiding principles:

  1. Do not inadvertently retraumatize. Project teams should first consider which strategies to select based on the intention to do no harm in terms of creating new trauma or retraumatizing residents.
  2. Consider and be sensitive toward the trauma residents may hold. This requires resident engagement and understanding. It is critical to meet residents where they are and develop strategies around that.
  3. Next, consider which strategies will move residents toward healing.

During this process, consider these best practices:

  • Engage the full project team, including architect and interior designer, around the trauma-informed and healing-centered approach. Consider including a mental health professional or other professional who has experience in designing for trauma and healing. The professional can help project teams as they consider:

     
    • Biases as a developer (architect, designer, etc.)
    • Acknowledgment of barriers
    • Reflections on these biases and barriers
    • How to design from a place of cultural context and empathy
  • Engage community members or residents and build power by incorporating their voices and ensuring that residents feel represented in the space.

  • Use empowering language toward your community throughout this process and the project life cycle.

  • Evaluate this process and the strategies incorporated. This evaluation should be used as an opportunity for continual feedback and incorporation of new needs (e.g., questions: Do you see yourself in this space? Does the space make you feel better?).

RESOURCES

  • University of Virgnia School of Architecture, Social Equity Impact Protocol for Affordable Housing Redevelopment.

  • Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a multidisciplinary approach to reducing crime through urban and environmental design and the management and use of built environments. CPTED strategies aim to reduce victimization, deter offender decisions that precede criminal acts, and build a sense of community among inhabitants. www.cpted.net/

  • Institute for Human Centered Design. Dedicated to enhancing the experiences of people of all ages, abilities, and cultures through excellence in design. www.humancentereddesign.org

  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Trauma-Informed Care. Resources from training and overview materials that affordable housing development teams may access to learn about trauma-informed work. www.nctsn.org/trauma-informed-care

  • The Center for Active Design, Assembly: Civic Design Guidelines. A playbook for creating well- designed and well-maintained public spaces as a force for building trust and healing divisions in local communities. https://centerforactivedesign.org/assembly

  • Gehl Institute, Public Life Tools. Most useful in planning exterior spaces, these tools help measure and plan for the relationship between spaces and the public life that takes place there. Includes the Twelve Quality Criteria, which is used to evaluate whether various features of a public space are protective, comfortable, and enjoyable for people spending time there. https://gehlinstitute.org/tools/
  • SITES Rating System v2 Section 6: Site Design — Human Health + Well-Being. www.sustainablesites.org/certification-guide

  • Stressed Spaces: Mental Health and Architecture. Health Environments Research & Design Journal. Connellan, K.; Gaardboe, M.; Riggs, D.; Due, C.; Reinschmidt, A.; and Mustillo, L. (2013). (Vendome Group LLC), 6(4), 127–168.

“To be here helps me get a fresh state of mind. It has been a beautiful experience.”
Resident of Enterprise Green Communities property

INTRODUCTION

CRITERIA CHECKLIST

      • INTEGRATIVE DESIGN

      • LOCATION +

        NEIGHBORHOOD FABRIC

      • SITE IMPROVEMENT

      • WATER

      • OPERATING ENERGY

      • MATERIALS

      • HEALTHY LIVING ENVIRONMENT

      • OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE +

        RESIDENT ENGAGEMENT

        APPENDICES GLOSSARY