New study: startling correlation between poor housing and ill-health


Healthy homes? One in six Europeans lives in an “unhealthy” building, increasing the chance of illness by 66%

Heat or Eat? One in ten Europeans suffers energy poverty, doubling the chance of poor health

The VELUX Group today launches the 2017 edition of the Healthy Homes Barometer in the context of an event dedicated to Healthy Buildings at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. This year’s study, developed in collaboration with Ecofys, a Navigant company, Fraunhofer IBP, and Copenhagen Economics, examines the effects of housing on the health of people in countries across Europe, along with the associated costs to society and ways to tackle the problem.

Europeans living in an “unhealthy” (meaning damp or mouldy) building are more than 1½ times (66%) more likely to report poor health, and 40% more likely to suffer from asthma, as those who do not. Meanwhile, Europeans who suffer energy poverty (here meaning they are unable to keep their homes comfortably warm in winter) are twice as likely to report poor health and nearly three times more likely to report damp in the home.

The costs of unhealthy buildings are not just felt by individuals either. The overall (direct and indirect) costs to European governments and societies of just two of the many diseases associated with damp living environments – asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – reach a staggering EUR 82 billion per year.

We know instinctively that living in unhealthy surroundings is bad for our health. This study reveals to just what extent Europeans are suffering on account of their homes; and also the staggering financial costs to society of not bringing Europe’s aging housing stock up to par.”
says Michael Rasmussen, SVP Brand at the VELUX Group

One solution is to modernize Europe’s existing buildings through energy efficient and healthy renovations. This would not only lead to improved health outcomes, lower societal costs, and reduced CO2 emissions, but would also provide a much-needed catalyst to European economies. The Healthy Homes Barometer 2017 goes on to examine the level of private capital available for renovation in EU member states – EUR 30 trillion – and what would be required to help unlock some of that total to invest in renovation.

These are just a few of the striking findings of this year’s report. For the first time, using data from the European Commission’s vast Eurostat Database, the analysis provides new evidence on the relationship between housing and health.

This study illustrates the tremendous impact of buildings on human health, on social inclusion, on air quality, and climate. When over one third of Europe’s CO2 emissions are emitted by buildings, when one in ten Europeans is energy poor and one in six lives in unhealthy housing – it is clear that change needs to start ‘at home’.
says Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Energy Union at the European Commission
About the VELUX Group

About the VELUX Group

For more than 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 36 countries and around 11,000 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2022, the VELUX Group had total revenue of EUR 2.99 billion, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 4.29 billion, and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 181 million in charitable grants.

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