Over the past month, Australia’s measures to control the spread of the coronavirus have profoundly changed the way we interact with the built environment, with our homes. Basically, it means people are spending the majority of their day at home rather than another place like our work, school and indoor leisure choices.
My thoughts are, it has also made us see our home for really what it is, reflect on our essential indoor living, interacting, connecting and responding with our environment.
As a building biologist and mum, I promote practical measures to produce more resilient indoor built environments that can withstand both exterior and interior interactions with the natural environment and at the same time be mindful and flexible in our behaviour to respond to health and happiness. In the past, these interactions have mainly been envisaged as circulation, cleaning and comfort. However, the coronavirus pandemic also falls into this ‘natural environment’ category and the ‘our behaviour’ category.
So how has our built environment, our homes, performed so far, and what have we learnt?
I feel one obvious lesson has been our limitations when working, schooling and living from home, all under the same roof, in the same day.
While we can all work remotely, and teach our children at home, and use the space to exercise online, with surprising technical efficiency and connectedness I must say, as a mum, the overall remote-working process feels unreal, feels structured, feels disconnected, feels 2 dimensional – despite group online meetups. Business women pivoting their ideas, exercising – I tried belly dancing for the first time last week, hangout with friends at lunch – a mum mentioned her 10 year old and school friends compare lunches, drinks on Friday afternoon – in one of my client’s homes observed course attendees meet and laugh about our brave new world of self isolation, and the rest.
Personally, my collective work efficiency feels scattered, slow and takes forever, distracted, emotionally taxing, unfun. I heard and observed from various industry business colleagues, we have more to do to figure out how to work together more effectively while being physically apart. I’d like to expand this, as a mum, how to figure out how to live together with family inside while being physically together.
Some homes are large and can provide for social distancing well – usually, those with many bedrooms, large lounge and dining areas, other entertainment spaces and out in the garden. But smaller homes with less efficient layouts and with no ‘extra’ space will struggle to accommodate distancing, just like older homes struggle to accommodate extra guests.
Looking in, for now
I’m mindful of providing practical indoor tips to homes that are now looking inwards more than ever before, recommending an in home clean up to existing indoor behaviours, with de-cluttering and removing unwanted items out.
Air circulation must be maintained for essential indoor fresh air flow, while possibly opening windows and doors to the outside and negotiating with family members to clean up their rooms to allow that fresh air in and circulate.
I also recommend teaching children, and older occupants too, to attend to dusting their learning and work spaces in case you or your regular cleaners are not available, and opening up window coverings to allow natural light in during the day.
As well, we must ensure family members have a ‘homely job’ and a means to continue contributing to the family unit to carry out cleaning routinely and by contributing, ensures resilience and reliability not only to the family members, but also the home’s indoor environment.
Finally, I recommend bringing forward repairs and maintenance while out of home activities may be on shut-down or in slow motion.
This might help preserve the building’s integrity and should support you and your family as Australia prepares to enter the winter months, where we spend more time indoors than any other time of the year.
Mother Nature has sent us to our rooms to think through our actions
But when we get out, will Mother Nature be happy? I heard a colleague ask last week. As GPs for the environment, we’ve observed there has previously been reluctance to change. Environmental factors are driving this and will transform our health, and we don’t really know how or what that will look like when we get to the other end.
What I do know is this, people are going to be very focused on the world, and their indoors are engaging their senses as an integral part, more so than ever before. The answer is go outside and listen, put your hands into the dirt, hug a tree, kiss the sun and rain, align with Mother Nature.
“The answer is always nature. Always.” writes Katie LaMonte. “We do not have to argue about the why. The antidote is obvious. Alignment with the mother, with our source of nurturance. Remembering everything we use and need comes from her. Give thanks. Humble. Slow down. Observe. Listen.” ❤️
The Three C’s of Proper Building Indoor Air Maintenance
The foundation of effective building indoor air care is built on three simple but important concepts: circulation, cleaning, and comfort.
I suggest you read these posts to understand how to keep your quality indoor air clean and healthy all year long:
I added The Nature of Indoor Air because you should know what you’re working with.
Come on in, the freshness is fine—Thanks to You
Owning your indoor air is one of the most rewarding ways to enjoy breathing easier and living easier in at home. Yes, it needs regular care, but that doesn’t mean you’ll spend your life shackled to a vacuum or fiddling with your chemistry knowledge.
In fact, when you know how your indoor air works, understand the care it needs, and plan, you might find yourself taking pride in your indoor air care prowess. You’ll enjoy not just your breathing, but the peace of mind that comes with regular and thorough indoor living maintenance.
For quick reference, check out our Quality Air Cheat Sheet.
I work with women who are feeling sick and tired in their home. I help them to sift through the environmental hazards and triggers to get clarity about what’s toxic and what’s not so they can create a healthy home for their family they love.
I do this through conducting in home assessments of you, your building, testing, finding the source and document recommendations to helping you breathe easier, live easier. And in this brave new world, through online meetings.
Please connect with me on Facebook, I’d love to see you there.