Green Healthy Housing

Do green building practices keep the doctor away? The Green Apple Research Project assesses whether green building practices lead to better health for low-income seniors.

Healthy Housing

Residential renovations increasingly incorporate energy efficiency and green building practices. However, there has been little comprehensive study of the effects of green building on indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and human health, especially as they affect a very vulnerable population: low income seniors.

The Green Apple Research Project is a three-year, quasi-experimental study examining the health and IEQ outcomes and healthcare costs and benefits of a green retrofit of a 120-unit assistive housing complex for seniors in Phoenix, AZ. The Green Apple Project will determine whether green building practices result in fewer falls, respiratory ailments, joint and movement impairments, mental health problems, and functional limitations for low-income seniors.

The project was sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It has been carried out by a multidisciplinary team including housing, nursing, architecture, engineering, economics, and visual communications researchers from University of Florida, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Energy Efficiency in Affordable Multifamily Housing

The Shimberg Center and Program for Resource Efficient Communities (PREC) are teaming up to study energy efficiency and utility costs in Florida's affordable housing inventory. The project will address these questions:

  • How energy efficient is the current stock of affordable rental housing?
  • How do energy bills affect tenants' financial and residential stability?
  • Do current multifamily retrofit techniques deliver true and lasting energy savings?

Researchers are using household-level tenant and utility data from Gainesville, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee to assess the energy efficiency of the existing subsidized rental housing stock; identify the property, household and subsidy characteristics associated with higher and lower energy consumption and costs; study the impact of energy costs on tenants' real gross rent burdens and residential mobility; and explore geographic patterns of energy consumption to examine potential tradeoffs between energy efficiency and location efficiency. PREC researchers are also evaluating energy savings in apartment complexes that have retrofitted heating and cooling systems, insulation, and appliances.

The project is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's How Housing Matters initiative, which supports research to explore the ways housing affects social, health, and economic outcomes of children, families and communities.


Healthy Housing: Sherry Ahrentzen, PhD (

Energy Efficiency: Anne Ray (