According to research by Velux, one in six Europeans – the equivalent of the population of Germany – live in unhealthy buildings that suffer from damp, a lack of daylight, inadequate heating or overheating. In some countries, that number is as high as one in three!
These issues don’t just impact the building, they also have negative health effects on the inhabitants, with more than one and a half times more people living in unhealthy buildings having poor health, compared to those living in healthy buildings.
As Grand Designs Magazine notes, building health issues can lead to asthma, allergies and sleep disorders. To ensure you build a healthy home, the publication recommends the following steps:
Use natural materials for structural improvements
Baubiologie, or ‘building biology’, a building science that focuses on the positive impact certain design ideas and materials have on wellbeing, promotes the use of natural materials like timber, rammed earth floors, and hempcrete. This could include timber-frame windows or exposed beams.
Associate director of The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, Simon Corbey, noted it can be difficult to find healthy building products in the UK as “there is no comprehensive register of products to use or avoid.”
This is where an architect can come in handy, as their knowledge and experience can help identify such products.
Balance natural and artificial light
Not only is an abundance of natural light an aesthetically pleasing feature in residential and commercial properties, it also has a host of health benefits.
As Architectural Lighting discusses, daylight is known to increase productivity and comfort, and provides the necessary mental and visual stimulation to regulate human circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and energy patterns.
Meanwhile, too much artificial light can cause issues. Blue light, emitted from some modern LEDs and devices such as TVs, computers and smartphones, is linked to headaches and macular degeneration. Getting the right balance between natural and artificial light can be a simple step to improving a building’s health.
We all know the dangers of outdoor air pollution, but our homes can also be a hotbed for poor air quality.
A 2016 report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health noted sources of indoor air pollution include faulty boilers, heaters, irritant chemicals, house-dust mites, mould, and dander from pets.
The report also found that, across Europe in 2012, indoor air pollution is believed to have caused or contributed to 99,000 deaths, the Guardian reported.
Creating warmer external walls, adequate ventilation, and a plug-in air purifier can all help to minimise poor indoor air quality.
The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products has called for internal air quality tests to become the norm, and a register of building products and materials.
If you’d like help building a healthy property, give CASA Studio a call.