Tag Archives: performance

3 Reasons to Gradually Go Green: Healthy Homes Chicago


3 Reasons to Gradually Go Green: Healthy Homes Chicago.

Gramata Development Corporation - DesignBuild ChicagoRecently I posted on the Four Categories to a Healthy Home:

1) food & nutrition 
2) furnishings  
3) finishes & fixtures  
4) systems

If one of these components is not a part of your healthy homes decision matrix then you’re probably not living a fully healthy lifestyle. Most of us are aware of the food and nutrition category but what about your home furnishings? Your couch probably contains flame retardant chemicals used on the upholstery which when absorbed can be harmful and some research indicates cancer-causing. How about your home finishes such as the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the paint you just bought for the kids bedroom? They may contain ingredients known to cause illness too. Did you know a low or no-VOC paint is available in most cases for the same price which is a healthier option?  And what about your home systems such as your furnace? I am not talking about whether they operate but how can they be improved over time with a healthier indoor environment mind?
Some or all of these are often overlooked but critically important to a fully healthy home lifestyle and the focus of this book. Most people are not aware of this nor what options are available to them.

That is one of my goals. To make you aware of some of the options and then how to begin to implement them into your lifestyle so you can gradually go green towards a healthy home lifestyle. 

Why should we care about making our homes and communities healthy and what questions should we be asking to make sure we are comfortable that the answer is a resounding “yes”? 

It begins with awareness and knowing what important questions to ask.

Some Questions to Ask:

  • What can I do to make my home healthy?
  • How can I define my goals of a healthy home?
  • Who can I trust to help me with those decisions?
  • What resources are available to help me establish and reach my goals?
  • What decisions will have the greatest impact on my healthy lifestyle?
  • What investments or decisions will have the greatest economic return over time?
  • How can they add value to my home in addition to the health benefits?

The association between our health and our homes has been known for centuries. People spend over 90% of their time indoors including both at home and work. If your home environment is unhealthy or unsafe, it can lead to illnesses that can appear immediately or in other cases it can lay dormant and lead to illness or even death in the months, years and even decades to come.

The quality of our housing effects our quality of life. Our home can and should support both our health and our well-being for the benefit of ourselves and our communities.

Why?

According to the US Green Building Council buildings consume 14% of potable water, 40% of raw materials and 39% of energy in the United States alone consuming over 15 trillion gallons of water and 3 billion tons of raw materials annually. 

There are three general reasons to work towards healthy homes and communities.

1) Health Impact: improving our indoor air quality by reducing the emissions and chemical mixtures released by the products, furnishings and stuff we fill our homes with can have a huge impact on our lives and the development of our children. Focusing from the building envelope inwards and down to the finishes and fixtures is the only way to being the steps needed to live in a healthy home. 

2) Savings: “healthy green home systems and materials reduce energy consumption, which in turn reduce your energy bills. They can also increase asset value and profits and decrease marketing time; making your dollar go further for longer.”

3) Environmental Impact: “Implementing green practices into your home or office can help reduce waste, conserve natural resources, improve both air and water quality, and protect ecosystems and biodiversity.” 

Create a list in your daily routine which focuses on one or all three of these components and start going green over time in your life!

 

Four Healthy Homes Lifestyle Categories to Consider When Going Green


I have started to organized my thoughts on how to start going towards a fully healthy lifestyle by breaking down my healthy home choices into four separate categories which should be considered when establishing our own baseline goals for healthy lifestyles.

Each category must be taken into account when pursuing the goal of a healthy life. Our outdoor environments,  neighborhoods, our office environment and even our commutes as well as so many other factors come into play into establishing a healthy lifestyle, but I believe you might consider each of these four categories to better understand and define a complete healthy homes lifestyle. If you miss on one area you may be missing some opportunities.

Category 1- Food & Nutrition–  the way I eat – food and nutrition and products I use to maintain and clean my home. The consumables both of my family and me but also products used to clean and routinely maintain the home on a daily basis. If my diet is poor then clearly I cannot live and sustain my life in an active and healthy manner.

Category 2: Furnishings & Finishes – the products and services that I bring into my house. Such as the couches, tables or chairs I sit on or the furnishings I bring into my home.  Also, the  finishes of my home including including the bathroom tiles, the paints and flooring finishes I use in my home. If the finishes or furnishings are made of unhealthy or unsustainable products then we must ask why are they a part of our healthy homes lifestyle.

Category 3: Systems – this category gets more into the  mechanical systems, the type of delivery of the heating and air-conditioning and mechanical and water delivery systems of our home as well as the plumbing systems and ventilation systems; Also it should consider and understand the new sustainable delivery methods such as geothermal energy sources, wind and solar as well as the higher velocity mechanical systems which can deliver warm comfortable well filtered air which will significantly improve the indoor air quality and healthy living environment. If this is sounding too complex I will explain all this in detail later.

Category 4: Building Structure & Shell – this category focuses more on the shell of the building;  the building envelope and the exterior walls – the structure itself. If I am eating my organic apple on a non-fire retardant treated couch with my high-efficiency furnace creating healthy air quality levels but the plywood under my floors is emitting formaldehyde off-gasses or there is an ongoing leak in the basement allowing mold to grow, then I believe three out of four does not constitute a complete healthy home life.

How healthy is my home lifestyle? Well the point is that the goal should be to incorporate all four categories into the healthy homes lifestyle design.

The way I look at it is that if I am eating really healthy and nutritious and getting my exercise and if any of the other three categories are not living up to the healthy way they should be or could be then I am not living a healthy lifestyle. I would then by my definition be living in an unhealthy home.

So where to begin? Because that really is the question  all who think about this stuff are asking. First we each need to individually ask ourselves what kind of life do we want to live and how far do we want to take this? I think the only way to really answer this is to be informed and made aware about the consequences and options available for each of the four categories outlined above.

I can say with certainty that we all want to live a healthy life. No one would disagree with that statement. However, I  know for sure that most people are not aware of what it means to make healthy choices in each of these four categories. You might be eating well but if you buy a couch that unknowingly has fire retardants on its surface that you absorb each time you sit down that can cause cancer would you do so? Or when you buy a home and you’re told the furnace works are you also told how well it performs? How much better it would perform if the air it filters went from filtering dust to filtering dander and even viruses. Do you think most homeowner’s know to ask their mechanical contractors how to improve their indoor air quality? Not most because it is not really a hot sexy topic.Wanna talk energy audits? Won’t see that on television. Wanna talk organic natural pure life improving green products? The airwaves are full of it.

Most believe the choices they’re making are healthy and some may be. But I know in my own experience many choices I make or have made I did without knowing they were compromising my health or the health of my children.

Yikes. That is not good.

It’s not so much redefining what it means to live a healthy but becoming aware of the choices available to live a healthy life and on this blog specifically about how to make our homes from the interior walls and woodwork, to flooring and foundation and structure and roofing and siding and finishes and appliances and mechanical systems and new energy methods. The complete package mostly related to categories 3 and 4 above. I will be focusing on how to do this primarily in existing homes but also in new construction since I am a designer and architect I want to understand not only how to improve our existing housing stock (reuse) but also I want to improve the standards by which we build our new housing and establish much much higher healthier standards which take into account the materials and methods used and the sustainable path to making sure the resources are renewable and available for the next generations to come.

Enough about this – let’s start moving forward. Let’s get our entire lifestyle from food and nutrition to the furnishing we fill our homes with to the systems within our homes to our actual built structures and the shells of our homes.

Becoming aware is the first step. Let’s take a look together and begin the first step to a healthier, happier, more comfortable and sustainable place we call home.

Illinois’ Third Passive House built in River Forest


The home’s cobalt blue siding sets it apart from older brick houses in its River Forest neighborhood. But the color of the house on Jackson Avenue is the least of its distinguishing factors.

 

As northern Illinois’ first certified passive house, Corinna and Rodrigo Lema’s new house is a celebrity in architectural circles. Originated in Germany, a passive house has maximum indoor air quality and is super energy-efficient.

 

The Lemas’ house is the third certified passive house in Illinois, according to the Passive House Institute U.S., which certifies them. The other two are in Urbana and Champaign.

 

“If it were a car, it would be getting 300 miles per gallon,” said Mark Miller, executive director of the Passive House Alliance United States, which advocates for these homes. “Europe has embraced this for years. In the U.S., we’re just catching up. There are only 34 certified in the U.S.”

 

Healthy Memphis: Keep moving all day to avoid ‘sitting disease’ – Memphis Commercial Appeal


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Healthy Memphis: Keep moving all day to avoid ‘sitting disease’Memphis Commercial AppealIn contrast, other jobs require frequent movement, such as mail carriers, construction workers, stay-at-home parents, athletes and yoga teachers.

Jim Gramata‘s insight:

Oh crap, this is not good considering my long days at the desk, but I had to post. Get up and move around at work, become a postal carrier or yoga instructor….

See on www.commercialappeal.com

#USGBC Is at it again with this awesome interactive and innovative website they just launched to promote the global initiatives being discovered and improved around the world. GBIG


Green Building Information Gateway http://ow.ly/fYHml #healthyhomes

Organic = Healthy: Who Are You Kidding? – Huffington Post UK (blog)


See on Scoop.itHealthyHomesChicago

Organic = Healthy: Who Are You Kidding?Huffington Post UK (blog)Ok, before we get started, I’m all for the environment, I’m totally against the abhorrent treatment of animals, and as my profession would suggest, I’m very much up for people eating…

See on www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

Sustainable homes for Earth – Earthship Biotecture


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

By Caitlin Howlett G Magazine Looking like something Tolkein’s hobbits would reside in, the quirky Earthship homes are in fact some of the greenest ki…

See on earthship.com

American Homes Filled With Fire Retardants | Care2 Healthy Living


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Spare change isn’t the only thing hiding in your couch cushions. Fire retardants are surprisingly common in everyday furniture items.

See on www.care2.com

The incredible origami house that can change shape depending on the weather


See on Scoop.itHealthyHomesChicago

This new incredible folding house is able to, in the words of its creators, ‘metamorphosize’ into eight different configurations to adapt to seasonal, meteorological and even astronomical conditions (The house that is EIGHT homes in one: The incredible…

See on www.dailymail.co.uk

Shooting hoops for healthy hearts at HMS – Helena Independent Record


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Shooting hoops for healthy hearts at HMSHelena Independent RecordAbout 50 Helena Middle School students took to the basketball court Friday morning to keep their hearts healthy, learn basketball skills and celebrate their contribution to the…

See on helenair.com

Homes go from blight to energy efficiency – Toledo Blade


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Toledo BladeHomes go from blight to energy efficiencyToledo BladeThat’s the goal of NeighborWorks Toledo Region, which launched construction Friday of two new houses on the 300 block of Toledo’s Chapin Street.

See on www.toledoblade.com

Former President Carter and wife to build homes in Denver neighborhood – Denver Post


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Former President Carter and wife to build homes in Denver neighborhoodDenver PostFormer President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will visit Denver next year to help build 11 new townhomes and repair up to 15 existing homes in the Globeville…

See on www.denverpost.com

Healthy People Have Hundreds Of Flawed Genes – Medical News Today


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Zee NewsHealthy People Have Hundreds Of Flawed GenesMedical News TodayA normal healthy person has an average of 400 flaws in their DNA, according to a new study in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

See on www.medicalnewstoday.com

Home energy retrofits reducing healthcare costs!


Home energy retrofits reducing healthcare costs | SmartPlanet http://ow.ly/fV1vv #healthyhomes

Nanotechnology Now – “Nansulate® Industrial”


See on Scoop.itChicago healthy homes

Heard about this really cool product today at the IIT IPRO presentations in Chicago. Energy savings up to 35% improvement with a simple coat of this nano-product! Case studies on the site. Thanks undergrads for the great lead and for all your hard work! “The paper titled, “Energy Conservation Using Nanotechnology Based Insulation Coating in Paper Machine Dryer At Seshasayee Paper” describes the benefits experienced in the pulp and paper industry by using patented …

See on www.nanotech-now.com

Why we should be diagnosing the environmental health of buildings



Why we should be diagnosing the environmental health of buildings

By Dominique Hes, University of Melbourne and Sara Wilkinson, University of Technology, Sydney

Improving the health of our building operations is one of the most effective, current ways to reduce our impact on climate change. And just as in medicine, being able to diagnose and improve health requires research and access to information on actual performance.

So the recent initiatives in the American cities of New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Boston to release their building energy performance data should be applauded.

This is particularly pertinent when internationally the built environment has been estimated to contribute to one-third of the energy emissions associated with anthropogenic climate change. Meanwhile, Australian buildings produce around 23% of Australia’s greenhouse emissions; 10% from commercial buildings and 13% from residential buildings.

The reporting of actual performance of existing stock is also important as countries start focusing on increasing the efficiency of existing buildings, rather than new builds.

For example, in the United Kingdom 87% of the buildings already built will still be there in 2050. In Australia many cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney have programs doing just that; what great benefit they would have from such a user-friendly source of information.

User-friendly data

The American data has been released in an easy to use fashion, unlike in Australia. Our building energy use data is hidden in each building’s Building Energy Efficiency Certificate under the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 (BEED Act). Yet, this Commercial Building Disclosure Program, as in America, is only for commercial buildings leaving significant sectors of the built environment – industrial and residential – out of the picture.

In Australia the Act only comes into effect when a commercial space is leased or sold which is over 2000m2 . Currently, this means there is only data for just under 750 buildings across Australia. With our lease terms of five to seven years it means there is a fairly rapid turnover of stock that will get rated within a relatively short time frame. But this misses a large segment of the market that falls under the 2000m2 limit.

Apart from the increased ability to diagnose efficiency opportunities in the built environment, access to this type of information could benefit the thousands of students in universities around the world who could use actual building performance information in their research.

Effective reporting and presentation of the data can also support building retrofit programs such as the 1200 Buildings Program in Melbourne and Greening Sydney Plan. This would help them in identifying priority areas within their programs.

Energy data on its own is useful for limited trending analysis. But it is important to have other contextual information to really support its useful integration into research, management and policy development. The New York report does some limited analysis and reporting on the data they provide. The Australian data collection is not aggregated in any way and as far as we can see the information has not been used or reported on. As such we could learn from the initiatives of the US cities to report on their data in a useful format.

A good start

Both the Australian and American data collection and sharing initiatives are a good start. It would be more useful however to have more detailed information. The US data is still only looking at aggregated energy use. Connection of energy data details such as building function would help in the analysis. Having said that, resources spent on data collection should be spent wisely.

Though it is generally true you can’t manage what you can’t measure, manage is the operative word. As such a research program similar to that of those in medicine should be established to ensure the data is not only useful for the building owners and managers collecting the individual building information, but also to society as a whole. Particularly in light of the opportunities to reduce the built environment’s contribution to climate change.

Dominique Hes receives funding from the ARC and works for The University of Melbourne.

Sara Wilkinson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Creating Healthy and Energy-Efficient Housing


Home Energy Magazine :: Creating Healthy and Energy-Efficient Housing.

Creating Healthy and Energy-Efficient Housing

What Does the Research Tell Us?

August 29, 2012
September/October
This article originally appeared in theSeptember/October issue of Home Energy Magazine.
SHARE  

Click here to read more articles about Home Performance with Energy Star

During the next decade, over a million homes are expected to undergo energy upgrades. Government programs and property owners will fund this work. Key actors will include DOE’s Weatherization and Better Buildings programs; HUD’s Rehabilitation and Repair Home Loan and HOME programs; utility-supported programs; homeowners who employ home performance contractors; and property owners who are making sound financial decisions. Done well, these energy upgrades offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve health conditions for millions of Americans at a time when our health care costs are skyrocketing, exceeding $7,000 a year per capita (OECD, 2010).