Designing Green and Healthy Housing


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The Green Company wanted to reach new heights with their Five Lanterns residences, by enhancing the homes’ energy performance and indoor air quality. These luxury homes are located at The Pinehills, a master planned community in Plymouth, MA. The Green Company is a nationally recognized home builder – named America’s Best Builder in 1992, 2000 and again in 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders and Builder magazine.


Our Solution
Tohn Environmental working in collaboration with ZeroEnergy Design, an architectural design and mechanical engineering firm, provided building guidance and specifications that helped the client to reduce the energy usage of the homes and create healthier living environments. To improve the indoor air quality, we identified construction practices and building materials to minimize asthma triggers, avoid moisture problems, supply clean fresh air, reduce allergens and provide low-toxicity materials.


The Five Lanterns homes will be Energy Star certified and meet the highest industry standards for improved indoor environmental quality. Boston magazine has chosen Five Lanterns to be the site for Design Home 2008. “We strive to bring our homeowners the best in every community we build. Working with ZeroEnergy Design and Tohn Environmental, we know that Five Lanterns offers an exceptional lifestyle together with great energy performance and healthy indoor air quality”, said Rick Maranhas, Executive Vice President of Construction, The Green Company.

Healthy Housing Building Guidance

The Challenge
In 2001 health and housing leaders in New England were alarmed by the staggering increase in asthma among children. To address the problem, they formed The Asthma Regional Council of New England (ARC) and embarked on a pioneering 12 step plan to reduce the burden of asthma on children and families in the region. A core element of the strategic plan was to reduce asthma triggers in homes.


Our Solution
Working with ARC, Tohn Environmental Strategies designed, managed and secured funding for ARC’s nationally recognized healthy housing work. The firm’s principal, Ellen Tohn, developed ARC’s groundbreaking Healthy Homes Building Guidelines which were endorsed regional health and housing experts. Ms. Tohn then worked with leaders in all six New England states to promote the guidelines through training sessions with over 500 builders, architects, housing owners, and state officials and strategic outreach to agencies funding affordable housing development.


Buoyed by the increased interest in green housing, the guidelines were incorporated into standards used by all six state affordable housing finance agencies and several large public housing authorities affecting the management of 15,000 existing housing units and 3,500 units built each year. The guidelines have helped make New England a leader in green and healthy housing.
Guidelines and Related Tech Document