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Coupling Lead and Mold Remediation with Efficiency Programs in Madison

This report was funded by a grant from Healthy Babies Bright Future (HBBF), an organization working to create and support initiatives that measurably reduce babies’ exposures to neurotoxic chemicals. The project team includes a partnership between Elevate, Sustain Dane, and the City of Madison.

This grant aims to improve housing quality, health, and resilience in Madison, WI by designing a program that mitigates lead and mold exposures alongside energy efficiency retrofits. Housing quality is a social determinant of health in children. Lead-based paint and mold exposures are known health risks for children and are particularly problematic in low-income housing that is not regularly upgraded. Housing quality can also deter energy efficiency upgrades – homes with existing mold or lead issues are turned away from efficiency programs until health risks can be addressed. Offering a program that integrates energy efficiency and health assessments broadens the impact of efficiency programs while improving health conditions for occupants.

This grant builds upon an existing multifamily affordable housing initiative – the Efficiency Navigator, currently run by Elevate and Sustain Dane with funding from City of Madison. The Efficiency Navigator program currently helps unsubsidized affordable multifamily housing remain affordable by reducing utility bills and making housing more comfortable for residents. In partnership with the City of Madison, we created a program design that combines assessments and mitigation for lead and mold with the Efficiency Navigator program as mold and lead exposures are primary health concerns in Madison. Heavy rainfall events in 2018 and 2008 caused flooding across Madison’s housing infrastructure and highlighted the region’s vulnerability to heavy rainfall and storms. While the City of Madison water utility was the first major city in the US to launch a full Lead Service Replacement Program for water lines in 2000, paint-based lead exposure is still a pressing issue as a significant portion of the housing stock is built before 1978.

The development of our program design consists of two deliverables: (1) a high-level flow chart and detailed descriptions of additions to the program, and (2) an interactive map with relevant Madison-specific data on lead and mold risks. We engaged stakeholders including City and State agencies and community organizations to better understand opportunities and feedback on integrating healthy home assessments into the Efficiency Navigator design. In the following sections, our approach, deliverables, and lessons learned are described.

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