Image: ©HH

Health and the energy transition in the built environment

In the Climate Agreement, the Dutch government set out the measures needed to transition fully from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. This is known as the energy transition and will deliver huge gains in terms of people’s health and wellbeing. For instance, replacing combustion engines with electric motors will deliver cleaner air and quieter road traffic. The energy transition also has implications for the built environment. One of the measures involves modifying homes (of which there are currently about seven million) and one million other buildings to use renewable heat and renewably generated electricity. These modifications to the built environment could influence environmental factors such as noise, ventilation, and temperature, as well as the indoor environment. This, in turn, could have an impact on people’s health and wellbeing. For instance, there are indications that heat pumps and mechanical ventilation systems, for example, may cause noise nuisance. Such unintended adverse health effects could undermine support for the energy transition. The Health Council of the Netherlands notes options for enhancing the positive health effects of the energy transition in the built environment and for limiting any unintended adverse health effects.