As the number and severity of extreme weather events increase with the advancement of global climate change, understanding the public health implications and prioritizing adaptation strategies for retrofitting urban infrastructure assumes greater urgency. Architects and urban planners in cold and temperate climates have long recognized the value of weatherizing residential structures to improve winter-time interior comfort and reduce utility costs. However, less understood is the contribution of weatherization efforts to additionally reduce the negative health effects of hot weather extremes and how these efforts might be targeted to lessen health disparities in urban environments. Our broad objective is to reduce temperature-related health disparities in U.S. communities. Using a trans-disciplinary approach, we propose to create new knowledge that will help guide health-enhancing residential energy conservation measures. This model will use data from three case-study communities- Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington, DC where important social disparities in temperature-related health outcomes have been documented. Specifically, we propose 1) to update and expand existing maps of vulnerability to extreme temperatures, based on a finer-scale neighborhood level analysis using structural, environmental, socio-economic, and demographic data, and evaluate potential for home weatherization to reduce these vulnerabilities;2) to model how future climate scenarios and changes in neighborhood conditions might impact the distribution of vulnerability and the interior comfort conditions that residents will experience in these communities;and 3) to share and discuss research results with key stakeholders (e.g. installers, public health officials, community leaders, city officials) to inform urban planning, public health preparedness, community improvement and weatherization programming decisions relevant to vulnerable populations.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed study will combine existing data in a novel way to increase scientific understanding of the health benefits of residential weatherization now and in future climates. This research will provide a broadly applicable methodology for guiding local planning for built environment and neighborhood improvements, and climate change adaptation and mitigation programs. We will create maps and models for use by public health practitioners, weatherization program managers, city officials, urban planners and architects to reduce population health vulnerability to extreme temperatures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-PSE-D (56))
Program Officer
Dilworth, Caroline H
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
Ann Arbor
United States
Zip Code
Zanobetti, Antonella; O'Neill, Marie S (2018) Longer-Term Outdoor Temperatures and Health Effects: A Review. Curr Epidemiol Rep 5:125-139
Ogbomo, Adesuwa S; Gronlund, Carina J; O'Neill, Marie S et al. (2017) Vulnerability to extreme-heat-associated hospitalization in three counties in Michigan, USA, 2000-2009. Int J Biometeorol 61:833-843
Guentchev, Galina S; Rood, Richard B; Ammann, Caspar M et al. (2016) Evaluating the Appropriateness of Downscaled Climate Information for Projecting Risks of Salmonella. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13:
Gronlund, Carina J; Zanobetti, Antonella; Wellenius, Gregory A et al. (2016) Vulnerability to Renal, Heat and Respiratory Hospitalizations During Extreme Heat Among U.S. Elderly. Clim Change 136:631-645
Gronlund, Carina J; Berrocal, Veronica J; White-Newsome, Jalonne L et al. (2015) Vulnerability to extreme heat by socio-demographic characteristics and area green space among the elderly in Michigan, 1990-2007. Environ Res 136:449-61
Gronlund, Carina J (2014) Racial and socioeconomic disparities in heat-related health effects and their mechanisms: a review. Curr Epidemiol Rep 1:165-173
Zanobetti, Antonella; O'Neill, Marie S; Gronlund, Carina J et al. (2013) Susceptibility to mortality in weather extremes: effect modification by personal and small-area characteristics. Epidemiology 24:809-19