Ellen R Tohn – Tohn Environmental Strategies – Health and Home Performance: A Game Changer

Air Date: 4-21-2017|Episode 457

This week IAQ Radio welcomes Ellen Tohn of Tohn Environmental Strategies. Ms. Tohn is an environmental health consultant with over 30 years of experience. She is a nationally recognized expert in housing based environmental health threats, green and healthy housing, and indoor air quality…


Full Description:

ellentohnThis week IAQ Radio welcomes Ellen Tohn of Tohn Environmental Strategies. Ms. Tohn is an environmental health consultant with over 30 years of experience. She is a nationally recognized expert in housing based environmental health threats, green and healthy housing, and indoor air quality. Ms. Tohn works with housing developers, owners and managers to create green and healthy housing and developed the nationally recognized “One Touch” approach.  She has assisted health advocates catalyze policy solutions; designed energy efficiency programs incorporating health protections; and managed environmental health research studies.

Ms. Tohn served as an advisor on health issues to the US Green Building Council’s LEED program, Enterprise Green Communities, Delos Living, EPA, Department of Energy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and numerous green building programs. Ms. Tohn is a nationally recognized trainer, providing professional development to over 7,000 individuals.  She received her BA from Cornell University and a Masters from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ms. Tohn is also an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Brown School of Public Health. Home Performance professionals are becoming much more focused on indoor air quality and that focus is a game changer for their industry and possibly the IAQ world.

Z-Man’s Blog:

“Health and Home Performance: A Game Changer”

Ellen Tohn, a nationally recognized expert in housing based environmental health threats, green and healthy housing and indoor air quality, was today’s guest on IAQradio.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

Federal government is cutting back spending on IEQ programs.

Today’s consumers care more about energy efficiency and IAQ. They have a new understanding about what’s important indoors: it’s about where we live, work, play and learn.

Consumers want to keep healthy and save energy.

Sensor technology is becoming more affordable.

There are Green building standards, now there is a wellbeing standard. https://www.wellcertified.com/our-standard

Multiple forces are at work focusing on parts of the energy efficiency and health challenges. Assets in IEQ, energy efficiency and health are not well aligned.

Takeaways from Home Performance event Nashville.

Click to access Natl17_eBrochure_3.17.17_2.pdf

  • http://energydocs.net/faq.php an innovative home performance firm CA whose uniforms are medical scrubs.
  • When surveyed 86% of people have at least 1 point of indoor discomfort: air is too humid, experience nasal irritation/allergies in home, poor lighting, less harsh glare,
  • 2/3’s of people surveyed have anxiety over IAQ.
  • 84% of people surveyed think energy efficient homes are healthier.
  • Only 28% people surveyed understand terms well enough to explain them to others.
  • 8%-12% have asthma (number goes up when allergies and respiratory symptoms are included)
  • Clients care and instinctively believe that Home Performance Contractors can fix their problems. Clients want to have protect their families, control of their environment, want air that is clean and smells good. These Clients will willingly buy/spend more.
  • Home Performance is a good term, most homeowners think they are HVAC contractors. Some Home Performance firms focus on the juicy low hanging work and move on to the next project without a holistic approach.

One Touch is an e-referral program that connects health, energy, and housing home visiting and repair programs to cost-effectively improve health outcomes and reduce home energy use. Government and non-profits partners that “touch” homes use a common home Check Up tool and e-referral system to identify conditions triggering referrals or changes to the services delivered. The program is geared to low income families. 25% of homes worked on need something else (smoking cessation, asthma coaching, low interest loans or grants. The involvement of healthcare makes the homes safer. Connecting regional hospitals and expanding care of sick patients to include improving conditions in homes as preventative healthcare. Occupants need to understand the impact of moisture, pests and pets.

There is higher incidence of asthma in low income housing. Improving energy efficiency when done right, makes homes healthier. Research focused on low income housing found lower incidences of asthma symptoms, fewer emergency room visits, self-health ratings improved after energy efficiency work done. The work is funded by government and energy companies. The primary interest of energy companies is energy efficiency, kilowatts saved. Additional steps such as carpet removal and replacement with smooth hard surface floor and deep cleaning improves results.

“Behavior change is wicked hard. Engineering controls are much better.” Behavior change such as smoking cessation, convincing people not to sleep with animals they are allergic to is wicked hard. Engineering controls such as automated switches are more reliable than reliance upon occupant remembering to turn on bathroom exhaust fan.

BPI Home Evaluators need to collaborate with health partners.

Clients need to know: what they can do and what they can stop doing, such as misting products to kill airborne germs that are irritants and can exacerbate asthma.



Occupant Health Benefits of Residential Energy Efficiency




Ellen Tohn’s contact information:  http://www.tohnenvironmental.com/

James V. Barrett Eulogy

It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of James V. Barrett.

Jim was the founder of Fire Restoration Services of New England. An inspiring industry pioneer who built a legendary service company doing high profile restoration projects for high profile clients, including: the Kennedys, celebrities and sports personalities.

He was extremely proud of being a Certified Restorer, a designation he earned in 1980. His Certified Restorer number is #002. Realizing a need for the independent pooling of talent and resources to handle large losses, he partnered with three other restoration firms to form Restoration Associates, the first such venture of its kind.

He was generous; willingly sharing his technical knowledge and business acumen through his long and strong association involvement and volunteerism.  He hosted plant tours of his impressive facility which was truly both “state of the art” and “best in class”. Those of us who knew him and had less experience, smaller, less mature and less successful business all wanted to emulate him and his success. He epitomized class act.

He was a Past President of NEIRC and NIFR divisional president a division of RIA.

A foundational member of the restoration industry. He is fondly remembered by those who knew him and especially those who rose in the ranks of the industry alongside him.

He wasn’t all business, he also liked to and knew how to have fun. A happy go lucky Irishman, with a smiling face, friendly greeting. He had a gift for storytelling and joking. I’ll miss the hearty slaps on my back and his friendly encouraging words, he will be missed.

Cliff Zlotnik, IAQradio Episode 457 April 21, 2017

Z-Man signing off

Trivia Question:

Approximately what percentage of the energy going into a fossil fuel plant is converted to energy coming out?