Here’s a look at how green, sustainable, smart and healthy are all coming together for a more intuitive building and lifestyle into the future.
Although the words Green and Sustainable are very similar, they in fact are defined as two different elements.
Healthy Home- Green
A building is green when it helps reduce the footprint it leaves on the natural environment and on the health of its inhabitants, refers to activities that provide a more efficient use of resources. While green living is typically easier to achieve in the home. Many people know and include in their daily lives the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – ways to being green by trying to make a process or product sustainable.
These materials and resources that are sustainable, they have low embodied energy, and produce a minimal environmental impact. They are key elements in green construction.
As is, the efficient use of water by appliances, faucets and shower heads; the recycling of grey water; the reuse of rain water for landscaping and other non-potable purposes; reducing the number of furnishings you have, the recycling with the season, the quantity of personal care and cleaning supplies you buy, even the amount of convenience appliances installed in the home.
Simply put, reduction, recycling and reusing are not enough.
My lifetime focus, and many of you here naturally, is on keeping our footprint light and simple, being responsible is a deliberate action. The 3 R’s just don’t cut it.
Healthy Home- Sustainable
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (n.d), sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that is, permits fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Derived from the terms “sustainable development”, development that would allow ecosystem services and biodiversity to be sustained and “sustainable agriculture”, the production of any plant, animal or fish product using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare without compromising future generations’ ability to do the same.
Your Home (2013) discusses that only a house that meets zero energy standards – with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions – can be considered sustainable. Large homes and buildings that contribute to urban sprawl which consume high levels of energy and resources don’t make the cut.
So with the growing focus on sustainable living, it is becoming more apparent that along with energy efficiency improvements, construction and maintenance are at the centre of any build. A sustainable building approach has a high potential to make a valuable contribution to sustainable development.
My reflection is that sustainability is not an answer in itself, it is a beginning. From the ground up, there is no waste in nature. Everything that is not used goes back in some way to regenerate for the future. Human input must pay closer attention from the ground up and aim for the same outcome.
Healthy home- Smart
Beyond green and sustainable, technological advances are providing convenience, control, money savings and overall smarter buildings and homes.
As the market is evolving so rapidly, there are no accepted definitions for ‘smart’. Smart buildings provide solutions, improve efficiency, reduce consumption and reduce energy costs such as utility service supply. With the use of sensors built into infrastructure and data collected, smart buildings allows for a significant improvement in the management of buildings.
‘Smart home’ is a term loosely used by manufacturers to define a home that has TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, garages, camera systems, appliances, lighting, heating and air conditioning that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home. It’s looking more and more like the home automation of the future will be remotely connected to its owner, alerting homeowners to events they need to know about right away like security.
It allows occupants to remotely control and change settings as desired, making it more convenient to manage. Whether doors are locked or unlocked, lights are on or off, temperature settings on your thermostat (turn it down while away and readjust it for the optimal temperature upon returning), or shutting down sprinkler systems when it rains.
My concern, is this an economic issue or an environmental issue? Why are industries implementing these ‘smart’ things into buildings, appliances and personal devices? Building occupants now and in the future, will be able to interact with a diverse array of companies that ‘fix up’ aspects of their building, providing the same level of comfort with little or no human input, fixing out errors. I liken this to having a ‘stealth’ handyman on site and in the building – quietly and carefully working in the background, monitoring and tweaking systems that no one notices.
I’d question “If the environment, whether indoors or outdoors, already has natural advantages it provides for free and is safe to every living thing on earth, there must be something wrong with it! So why would we be introducing this if we can build buildings right from the ground up?”
Ultimately, what has changed? Why are buildings contributing to increasing occupant ill health?
Just as the concepts of green building and sustainable homes have been around for decades, and more recently ‘smart’ in our homes, they are just now becoming a regular part of the conversation and are ever so more important when people are building or renovating in relation to healthy planet.
However, with the push for air tight and energy efficient homes to conserve energy and costs, changes in building materials in respect to cheap man-made timbers and introduction of fungicides, fast track inferior construction techniques, inadequate drainage and natural ventilation, failure of occupants to properly manage moisture intrusion and humidity, together with increased reliance on mechanical heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems for comfort, EMFs and ‘smarts’, all potentially contribute to unhealthy buildings, creating ideal environments to allow occupant un-wellness to thrive, and in turn, significantly burden health, environmental and social responsibility.
In my opinion, rethinking the healthy building approach has an extraordinary ladder up potential (pun intended!) to make a valuable contribution to occupant and planet wellness, to breakaway. The healthy home concept is broad and complex, and just off the starting blocks to grow to be one of the major eye openers in the planning, design and building industries.
A healthy home design is dry, well ventilated and resistant to mould and EMF issues. It is free from pests, toxins and dangerous gases, and it’s clean and comfortable. Good maintenance prevents indoor pollutants, balances electromagnetic fields (EMFs) causing no environmental problems, minimizing energy consumption and utilizing as much freely provided and safe natural energy as possible.
Ideally, you want to control and balance moisture and humidity levels, ventilation, air filtration and EMFs, and choose to use non-toxic building materials, furnishings, clean drinking water, cleaning and personal care products to ensure a healthier home.
Creating a healthy, happy environment.
The idea of healthy homes involves interacting with the quality of life that is in the building itself, thus allowing people to interact with it and live in a healthy, happy environment. A healthy building project is designed, built and operated in an ecological and resource efficient manner. It will meet a number of certain objectives: resource and energy efficiency; CO2 and GHG emissions reduction; pollution prevention; mitigation of noise; improved indoor air quality; harmonization with the environment. An ideal project should be inexpensive to build, last forever with modest maintenance, and return completely to the earth when abandoned.
Either way, a healthy home starts with sound waterproofing and moisture control, dry floor, frame, moisture and energy efficient windows and doors, efficient insulation in cavities, breathable moisture barrier between the inside and out, air tightness, minimise combustion appliances, high-efficiency air filtration, ventilation and humidity control plus environmentally-friendly, non toxic interior finishes and proper ventilation – air movement that enhances the air quality in the home – is very important.
For the new kid on the block, the healthiest home possible goes beyond just creating an energy efficient, sustainable, green home and is determined by the most appropriate position and orientation for the building on the block. Takes into consideration the proximity to man-made services and facilities, the microclimate – prevailing winds, solar orientation, and the interaction of occupants’ lifestyle. Employs solar or radiant heating and maintain a fresh air supply all year round that is suitable for the building’s use; efficient insulation that is safe, non-toxic, reduce exposure to all EMFs, selective lighting and furnishings and be ecologically sound, healthy, harmonious to life and occupants.
Join us, be part of the solution. I made this video for you to check and recheck, we don’t want to leave anyone behind, but move forward, to come to a positive outcome.
Towards healthier living, Carol Parr ♥
Mitey Fresh Homes from the Ground Up
We use our unique perspective on living, biology and chemistry processes and knowledge to enable intuitive solutions for Healthy Buildings. We focus on encouraging healthy occupants, decreasing adverse health triggers, and increasing environmental responsibility and harmony.
Towards healthier living, Mitey Fresh Team ♥
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (n.d.). Making Homes Healthier for Families. [online] Available at: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/healthyhomes [Accessed 25 Mar. 2019].
Your Home, (2013). Carbon Zero, Carbon Positive [Online] Available at: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/housing/carbon-zero-carbon-positive [Accessed 25 Mar. 2019].
Your Home, (2013). Available at: Smart Meters, Displays and Appliances http://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/smart-meters-displays-and-appliances [Accessed 25 Mar. 2019].
Green Innovations, (2004). A Perspective on Environmental Sustainability? A paper for the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental
Sustainability [Online] Available at: http://www.green-innovations.asn.au/A-Perspective-on-Environmental-Sustainability.pdf [accessed 25 Mar. 2019]