WHAT IS A HEALTHY HOME?
By now we've all heard the statistic that we spend about 90% of our time indoors, with the majority of that time spent in our homes. Taking a holistic approach to the design & building process can help achieve healthy, sustainable and successful outcomes that enhance the health and well-being of the occupants.
Healthy home design can improve our health, our mood and our sleep. It goes beyond non-toxic building materials, clean construction practices and chemical free finishes and furniture; and incorporates our basic human need of natural light exposure, fresh clean air, purified water and a quiet and peaceful environment.
Taking a holistic approach to the building process has become our way of reaching a positive and wellness focused design outcome. Ensuring you have team of wellness experts that support the holistic design & construction approach ensures an aligned goal is realized.
Most conventional homes are overwhelmingly exposed to a huge variety of synthetic materials and toxins from paints, fabrics, carpets, furniture and flooring amongst other things; and then sealed for good measure with double or even triple glazed windows, trapping the polluted air inside and creating a dangerous mix for the occupants (and pets) to breathe. Ensuring selection and specification of non-toxic items from sheetrock through to cushion inserts is at the heart of a holistic design approach - and one that we help clients navigate from beginning to end.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 homes in Australia are affected by mould, as well as 40% of new builds. Mould can be a serious health hazard in the home, particularly for people with allergies, respiratory problems, or Chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS). Exposure to mould can lead to symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes, as well as more serious health issues in some cases. To reduce the chances of mould growth in your home, it's important to control moisture by fixing any leaks within a 48 hours of water event, , using exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, and ensuring proper ventilation throughout the home. It is also important during construction to ensure your builder protects all building materials on site, and during transport as a lot of water damage and mould growth occurs at this stage when materials are exposed to the elements.
If you suspect mould in your home, it is wise to speak with a qualified Mould Testing Technician or Building Biologist to help you take the right steps towards remediation. By being proactive about preventing and addressing mould growth in your home, you can help to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.
FRESH AIR & CROSS VENTILATION
To follow on from the point above about tightly sealed building envelopes, it is critical that we open our doors windows to fresh air and allow plenty of cross ventilation to pass through our homes. Outdoor air is surprisingly way less polluted (in most places even NYC) than indoor air, so by allowing it to penetrate our indoor environment it helps to remove stale and humid air which can reduce the chances of damp and mold from developing
NATURAL LIGHT & CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS
Have you ever noticed when you are on holiday in a bright and sunny location, or camping that after a few days you adjust to the natural rhythm of sunrise and sunset, falling into a natural sync where you retreat to bed earlier, often rising with the sun? Our bodies have a inbuilt clock that works on the same 24 hours cycle as the sun. Circadian lighting mimics the natural lighting patterns to help our bodies balance our own circadian rhythm which can have a hugely positive effect on the body; from better sleep, energy, productivity, mood as well as balancing hormones!
We knock our cycles off track by exposing ourselves to artificial light (we all know how 'awake' we feel when we check our phones in the middle of the night, this is WHY). Prolonged exposure to artificial light can ruin our sleep/wake cycle, digestion and hormone release...NOT COOL.
There are many chemicals added to the municipal water systems that are unregulated and untested as well as particulate matter and impurities that are collected whist the water travels through a maze of old pipes to your home. Using a whole home or point of use water filtration system can remove impurities and odor as well as improve taste, ensuring the cleanest water is used throughout the home including for bathing.
There is a growing concern that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by electronic devices in our homes may be harmful to our health. EMFs are invisible fields of energy produced by the movement of electrically charged particles, and they can be found in common household items such as cell phones, computers and Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, household appliances, solar panels and inverters and meter panels.
Some studies suggest that exposure to high levels of EMFs may increase the risk of cancer, neurological disorders, and other health problems. While the evidence is not yet conclusive, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to reduce our exposure to EMFs in our homes. Some ways to do this include using wired internet connections instead of Wi-Fi, keeping cell phones and other electronic devices away from the body, and limiting the amount of time spent using these devices.
The room I am most passionate about it the bedroom. Above all others it is the one we spend the most time in, so it is so important to ensure the bedroom is not only free of toxic chemicals and furniture; but also has great air quality, reduces transfer of sounds and is set up to encourage a deep and restful sleep. A bedroom designed for wellness includes a gentle and natural waking simulation using circadian lighting, tied in with other design elements like blackout shades and gentle alarms. Restful sleep is imperative to good health, and the bedroom is where this will happen.
HEALTHY HOME CHECKLIST
If you would like more information, download our helpful healthy home checklist for action steps you can take today.