Building owners can incur maintenance costs and absorb potential liability when moisture in buildings and pest pathways are not addressed.
Financial impacts are significant:
- 600,000 homes are damaged by termites annually.
- $5 billion is spent on controlling termites and repairing termite damage every year.
- $3,000 in termite damage repairs per home (and those are not covered by insurance)
- $19 billion dollars in yearly costs to address rodent damage and removal for all building types except federal.
From a health perspective, moisture that is unseen or unaddressed leads to mold growth and respiratory issues for occupants. Envelope pathways can result in the introduction of pests such as termites, rodents, and cockroaches leading to major problems related to occupant health, indoor environmental quality, and building material destruction. Treating these issues often results in the introduction of additional chemicals thus further compromising indoor air quality and occupant wellbeing.
Nontoxic methods may be utilized to minimize health impacts from moisture and from pests.
Below are five strategies that can be implemented on projects to control moisture and to keep pests away from buildings while saving ownership money, ameliorating human health, and safeguarding ecosystem integrity:
- Water Discharge Points
Avoid water discharge from causing moisture on the building or pools around the foundation by designing discharge points such that the discharge is at least 24 inches from the foundation. (Examples for discharge include rain gutters, air conditioning condensation lines, steam vent lines, or any other moisture source).
- Physical Termite Barrier Systems
Install a physical termite barrier system such as steel mesh, basaltic rock, or other code-approved system to prevent the travel of termites through the foundation.
- Termite Bait Systems
These are canisters that can be installed in the ground around the house. This method uses EPA-registered pesticides that are applied to only the canisters and the insects without contaminating the whole area.
- Landscape Design
Design landscape features to provide a minimum spacing between the exterior wall and plantings of 18 inches. This provides an inspection space and helps keep water away from the foundation.
- Blocking Entry Points
Insects and rodents will enter through any openings they can find. Seal all external cracks, joints, penetrations, edges, and entry points with caulking. Install rodent and corrosion-proof screens on openings (except where prohibited by code).
The aforementioned strategies can also help a project gain points towards LEED for Homes v4 certification. For more information on how to sustainably protect your home from unwanted guests, contact VCA Green below.
Contributing Writer: Mahmoud Harb, Project Manager
Moe Fakih, Principal
References: LEED for Homes Version 4 Reference Manual