North Central / Regional Reports

Build Smart, Breathe Easier Program Dedicates First House With Asthma-Healthy Features

RR North Central

DETROIT — The first Habitat for Humanity house built as part of the Build Smart, Breathe Easier national asthma education program was dedicated in Detroit. Program partners Merck, Habitat for Humanity Detroit, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse hosted a dedication ceremony where Betty Dunmore and her three daughters received the keys and walked through their completed home with asthma-healthy features.

The Dunmores are one of four families identified by Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country as being in need of affordable housing and are affected by asthma. Betty Dunmore is a single mother with three daughters, Androni (12), who has asthma, Amyre (5-1/2) and Cameron (4), who also experiences asthma-like symptoms.

“I am excited to become a homeowner for the first time with the help of Habitat for Humanity Detroit,” said Betty Dunmore. “When I learned our new house was being built with asthma-healthy features, I felt extreme gratitude in knowing my family will now have a healthy place to call home.”

Based on principles from AAFA’s asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program, the house incorporates healthy features using specific building techniques, materials, and ventilation systems. Some of these elements include:

• HVAC filters with high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings, which capture more and smaller-sized air particles than filters with lower MERV ratings;

• A bath fan and kitchen stove range hood that vent to the exterior of the house to remove excess moisture and indoor air pollution that may impact someone with asthma; and

• Advanced framing techniques that allow for heavy insulation of the exterior walls and reduce the amount of air and moisture infiltration. Expanding foam is also used around the exterior doors, windows, and foundation wall to help reduce moisture flow and outside air that may contain additional asthma triggers from entering the house.

As part of Build Smart, Breathe Easier, three additional houses with asthma-healthy features are currently under construction in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles with the help of volunteers and the partner families. These houses will be dedicated in November and December of this year.

For more information on the Build Smart, Breathe Easier program, visit

Publication date: 08/15/2011

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