Healthy Buildings I (Building Construction & Health)

Learn how buildings can impact on human health from the materials used to build them and those used in furnishings, to the use of heating, ventilation and other systems. Find out how to make a building healthier to occupy.

Course Code: BSS200
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Is Your Building Healthy?

Many people live and work in buildings which can be having a detrimental effect on their health. The links between building materials and systems on the health of its occupants can be quite dramatic.

Building biology, bio-house design, biological architecture and ecological building all refer to the construction of a building along lines of more natural, renewable resources and health of the occupants. In other words buildings become more people-friendly. It aims to establish a balance between technology, culture and biology. 

Learn about building biology

This course develops skills to determine the impact of building construction characteristics upon human health, and to recommend innovations in building design to improve habitability. It covers building materials, construction techniques, electrical wiring, temperature and light control, ventilation, plumbing, ergonomics, and psychological factors.

  • Study building biology
  • Improve the health of your own building
  • Improve your own health
  • Help others with their health by raising awareness
 

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction To Building Biology
    • Scope and Nature of Building Biology
    • Building Diseases -Chemical, Electrical, Cage, Location
    • Environmental Law
    • Biological Damage to Buildings
    • Environmental Considerations
    • Clean Interiors
  2. Building Materials
    • Introduction
    • Dangerous Building Materials
    • Chemical Effects on the Human Body
    • Timber
    • Formaldahyde Adhesives
    • Plastics
    • Masonary and Concrete
    • Insulation Materials
    • Soft Furnishings
    • Paints
    • Timber Treatments, stains, polishes, etc
  3. Construction
    • Roofing Matrerials
    • Roof Gardens
    • Roof Construction
    • Floors
    • Reasons to Choose Different Floors or Floor Coverings
    • Pests in Buildings
    • Dust Mites
    • Fleas
    • Ants
    • Termites, Flies, Mosquitos, Wasps, Cockroaches, etc
    • Spiders
    • Rodents, Birds, Snakes, etc
  4. Services
    • Electricity
    • Electrical Fields
    • Circuits
    • Measuring Electricity and Exposure limits
    • Terminology
    • Power Supply Systems
    • General Waste Disposal
    • Waste Water
  5. Temperature
    • Introduction to Heating and Cooling
    • Principles of TemperatureControl
    • Heat Loss
    • Types of Heaters
    • Cooling Effects
    • Air Cleaners, Filtration, Circulation, Air Conditioning
    • Energy Conservation
    • Solar House Design
    • Active and Passive Solar Heating Systems
  6. The Internal Environment: Ventilation
    • Scope and Nature
    • Natural Ventilation
    • Mechanical Ventilation
    • Air Conditioning
    • Humidity Management
  7. Light
    • Internal Light in Buildings
    • Natural Light
    • Artificial Light
    • Electric Light
  8. Acoustics
    • Internal Acoustic Control
    • Improving Internal acoustics
    • Noise Insulation
  9. Ergonomic Considerations
    • Scope and Nature of Ergonomics
    • Form, Shape and Spatial Dimensions
    • Furniture Design
    • Interior Layout
  10. Psychological Considerations
    • Scope and Nature
    • Physical and Psychological Affects of Colour
    • Stressful or Calming Environments
    • General Principles for Interior Design

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Explain the concept of healthy buildings including its relevance to human health.
  • Select building materials which are safe to human health.
  • Evaluate the health impact of different building techniques, including construction and design.
  • Explain how the way in which services are installed, can impact upon the health of people using a building.
  • Explain how building design can impact upon the quality of the physical environment inside.
  • Explain ergonomic considerations in building design.
  • Explain psychological considerations in building design.

What You Will Do

  • Explain the concept of building biology, in accordance with the international building biology institute.
  • Explain the history of building biology institutes, in different countries.
  • Explain the current status of bio-harmonic architectural practices.
  • Assess in a summary for each, problems with different dangerous building materials including: *Asbestos *Plastics *Insulation materials *Treated pine.
  • Compare characteristics of different commonly used building materials, including: *Rate of deterioration *Thermal qualities *Chemical properties *Acoustic qualities *Dust collection/repellence *Light reflection.
  • Develop a checklist, for evaluating the health impact of different building materials.
  • Evaluate the impact of different building materials on health, in an inspected building.
  • Develop a checklist of building design factors, to assess the affect of design on human health.
  • Develop a checklist of building construction factors (other than materials) which may impact upon human health.
  • Explain how design can impact upon different aspects of the internal environment, including: *Thermal comfort *Light intensity *Humidity *Condensation *Acoustics *Control of pests *Noise insulation.
  • Compare the impact of building techniques, including construction and design, upon human health, in two different specific buildings.
  • Explain the impact of electric fields on human health in an inspected building.
  • Explain how electrical fields can be minimised by the way in which electric wires are laid in a specific house plan.
  • Compare differences upon the impact on health from different power supplies including: *Mains power *Self generated systems *Different voltages.
  • Compare the potential impact on health, of different waste disposal systems including: *Chemical treatments *Reed beds *Settling ponds *Combustion systems *Land fill.
  • Explain potential impact of different water supply systems on human health, including: *Mains water *Ground water *Different types of rain water tanks.
  • Explain possible impacts of gas supply systems on human health including: *Mains gas *Bottle gas *Self generated bio gas.
  • Compare the impact of different types of artificial light sources on human health, including: *Electric light *Combustion systems.
  • Compare the impact of different types of heating systems on human health.
  • List ways temperature can be controlled inside a building by design.
  • Explain health impacts of air conditioning in a building studied by the learner.
  • List ways acoustics can be controlled, by building design.
  • List ways light can be controlled, through building design.
  • List ways ventilation can be controlled, by building design.
  • Explain solar energy applications in a specified building.
  • Evaluate the impact of the design of a building you visit, on the interior environment.
  • Redesign a building from a specified building plan, to improve the quality of the physical environment inside.
  • Evaluate the heights of three different kitchen benches for ergonomic suitability to the people who are primary users of those benches.
  • Explain the importance of clear and easy access into and through the building for all users, including the disabled.
  • Explain health aspects of the relationship between the human body and the interior of a specific building.
  • Explain the affect that four different colours may have on human health.
  • Explain the affect of space perceptions may have on human health, in a visited interior workplace.
  • Evaluate the psychological impact of the interior environment in two distinctly different offices, upon the people who work in each of those offices.

What Makes a Building Unhealthy

There are lots of ways in which a building can have a negative impact on human health, for example:
  • The materials used in the construction or furnishings may contain toxic chemicals, that may over time, find their way into the human body
  • Chemicals that are used to clean, or to control pests, are toxic or create toxic fumes
  • Noise or air pollution contaminating the building from the outside (eg. fumes from heavy traffic on an adjacent road).
  • Electomagnetic radiation from electrical wires, appliances or other sources
  • Dust, animal dander from pets or wildlife, or other contaminants finding their way into the building.
  • Psychological impact created by colour light, interior decoration or other characteristics

The way in which you manage a building can be just as important as the way in which it is constructed. Being aware of issues is the first step toward healthier buildings, at home, work, and during leisure activities. This course is the first step toward building that understanding.


Is Carpet Safe?

Synthetic carpets and rugs are made from acrylic, nylon and/or polyester fibres. They are also frequently treated with formaldehyde based chemicals.  Wool carpets usually contain various pesticides, which can be harmful. Some people will complain of pungent fumes from new carpets.

There have been documented cases of toxins being released from carpets and causing serious health effects (e.g. Glenn Beebe of Kentucky, had carpet from his home business analysed and various chemicals released from the carpet were detected including: ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, methacrylic acid, toluene, amines and styrene. Reference: "The Non Toxic Home and Office" by Dadd: Publisher, Tarcher). 

  • Be suspicious of any floor coverings with a strong smell and check the cause of the smell before using.

  • Always read labels and/or literature, to determine any chemicals used in the manufacture of floor coverings.

  • Safer choices for carpets include natural materials such as cotton or wool.

  • Avoid jute or latex backing if possible.

  • Moth proofed animal skins (e.g. sheepskin) or sea grass matting may also be safe alternatives.

Linoleum is generally a safe product. It is made from a mixture (i.e. powdered cork, wood resin, wood flour, linseed oil, chalk), spread over a hessian or jute backing. It has all the advantages of PVC floor coverings, but none of the health hazards. There is however a potential hazard in the material which is used to seal the surface below the linoleum. It must be laid on a damp proof surface and often petrochemical adhesives are used which are toxic and should be avoided. It is preferable to use wood lignin paste as an alternative.

A further problem with carpets is that they may encourage insects, in particular dust mites (and fleas in some situations - particularly if pets are kept inside).

A vapour barrier sealant (available in the United States) may be used to seal a carpet and reduce the emission of fumes (if it is impossible to live without carpet). Areas containing carpets with any dangerous components should be well ventilated. A breeze through the house, or extraction fans, may remove a significant proportion of toxic fumes before they become a serious problem.


Benefits of Studying This Course

This course is aimed at people who are interested in the impact of buildings on the health of their occupants, whether from a personal perspective e.g. an allergy sufferer. or a professional one e.g. builders or architects who would like to make better decisions about construction materials and design. Use what you learn here to:

•Make better decisions concerning fixtures and furnishings in homes
•Help you decide how to replace unhealthy materials
•Examine existing buildings with an eye for health risks
•Add to existing building design and health knowledge
•Forge a foundation towards further study

The course can be studied independently or as part of a learning package.


 

 

 
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
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Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

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Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

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More information is here

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Jacinda Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting her own firm. Jacinda has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Jacinda has a B.Sc., Psych.C

Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head fo

Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager.
Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Di





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Jade Sciascia

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK.

Tracey Jones

Tracey has over 20 years experience within the psychology and social work field, particularly working with people with learning disabilities. She is also qualified as a teacher and now teaches psychology and social work related subjects.

She is a book reviewer for the British Journal of Social Work. Tracey has also written a text book on Psychology and has had several short stories published.

Lyn Quirk

Lyn has 35 years of experience in the Fitness, Health and Leisure Industries. She has a string of qualifications that are far too long to list here; being qualified and registered to teach, coach or instruct a wide range of different sports and other skills.

Lyn established and managed Health clubs at three major five star resorts on Australia's Gold Coast, including The Marriott. She was a department head for a large government vocational college (TAFE), and has conducted her own aquafitness business for many years. Lyn has among her other commitments worked as a tutor for ACS for almost 10 years, and over that time, participated in the development or upgrading of most courses in her fields of expertise.

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