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.
"Building Biology deals with the study of living organisms in and around the building environment which have direct or indirect effect on the health of the building fabric, its materials, structures, environments and occupants." Jagjit Singh (1993)
To a human-being the walls of a building can be regarded as a third skin (the first is our own skin, the second is our clothing). Most buildings do not breathe like our natural skin and unfortunately in the USA this has been shown to lead to a build-up in radioactive radon gas and reduce the benefits of passive solar energy in spring and autumn. If a building is to be sealed (which most are) then it needs to be well ventilated to remove unhealthy pollutants.
Many buildings contain hazardous materials or substances without the owner's knowledge. Freshly constructed cement homes have high levels of moisture, homes built in the 60's contain asbestos cement which is known to be carcinogenic and old piping systems are frequently painted with lead paints. In addition the household disinfectants, fly sprays, paints, varnishes, and other fumes released from a large range of furnishings and commodities are of no benefit to the occupant's health.
Environmental costs are considered from the very first stage of planning. If products need to be transported a good distance, then they are usually rejected due to pollution, energy and costs for transportation. Even non-renewable resources are avoided.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS IN A BUILDING
A building should provide a pleasant, efficient and healthy environment for its occupants. Its primary purpose should be to protect from adverse conditions found outside; but in doing so, not loose the beneficial conditions found outside. If a building is properly planned and built well, these aims can be achieved. In most situations, buildings should satisfy the following:
- Buffer the impact of adverse external conditions (e.g. extremes of temperature, wind, moisture).
- Make use of natural light during the day (with windows, skylights, reflective interior surfaces, etc).
- Provide appropriate artificial light (without glare, with appropriate intensity and wavelengths, etc).
- Maintain good air quality inside (e.g. through ventilation, indoor plants).
- Minimise pollutants/toxins (e.g. fumes, dust).
- Control acoustics (stop unwanted noise; avoid interference/distortion of desirable noise, etc)
- Provide unimpeded movement and access to all areas.
- Provide rapid response to environmental controls (e.g. ability to raise or lower temperature quickly, ventilate rapidly if necessary).
ACS Distance Education provides some terrific courses which aim to improve Environmental Health.
Click on the links below to find out more:
Healthy Buildlings I
Healthy Buildlings II
Or read more about Environmental Health and Healthy Buildings and Lifestyles from our great range of books on our Online Bookstore!
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