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IAQ and YOU

Building Science has delivered increasingly energy efficient homes by tightening the thermal envelope, reducing air leaks and infiltration, and adding more and better performing insulation. An energy efficient home is a measurable accomplishment. The HERS rating reveals the exact percentage of energy efficiency achieved by a Green Built home in relationship to the building code standard set for that moment in time. It is very gratifying to use objective measures to quantify results.

Unfortunately, tighter homes do not breathe as homes with leaks do. Most mechanical systems installed in Green Built Homes do not utilize fresh air intake systems to compensate for that. Since energy efficiency has been the bedrock parameter of Green Building other elements of a Green Built home have taken a back seat. Home owners and buyers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a Healthy Home.

We live in a toxic world. To learn more go to: http://www.HealthyChildHealthyWorld.org

Since post World War II chemicals originally used in warfare have been used in agriculture and manufacturing to the demise of the ecosystem and all living within it. Within the human species it is our children that are bearing the brunt of this assault. We are experiencing an ever increasing rise in childhood cancers and asthma. Articles about the importance of keeping toxins out of the home have become popular since 2008. Around that time every parenting magazine began to publish very practical steps for parents to take regarding cleaning products, furniture, bedding, etc. The home itself, however, is built with many toxic chemicals incorporated into cabinets, carpeting, paints, glues, paints and finishes, and unfortunately in some cases the insulation that increases energy efficiency.

So how can we eliminate the toxins that are woven into the very walls, flooring, attic, and finish out of the house itself? This is no small task. There are non-toxic sealers, paints, cleaners, adhesives, etc. that can address most concerns. Go to http://www.afmsafecoat.com/index.php

If you are considering a custom Green Built Home or a major remodel of an existing home you have every opportunity to eliminate most toxins entirely. There are many books that are great resources.

Here are some of my favorite titles:

Homes that Heal and those that don’t by Athena Thompson

Prescriptions for A Healthy House A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders & Homeowners by
Paula Baker-Laporte, Erica Elliot, and John Banta

Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House by Carol Venolia & Kelly Lerner


Building Science and Natural Building are two schools of Green Building which have some overlap but are inherently different. Natural Building by definition avoids all toxic building products. Since the building materials favored such as straw, clay, adobe, earth, etc. are inherently safe and natural it is easier to maintain a healthy indoor air environment with this method. Building Science uses some principles of Natural Building, when possible, such as orientation of the home and maximizing the advantages of shading and prevailing breezes for coolness and blocking northerly winds for warmth. However, Building Science compensates for the lack of nature’s benefits of by utilizing mechanical systems on sites that do not provide ideal orientation. Manufactured building materials are used which are typically laced with toxic chemicals of all kinds. Fresh air intake systems are essential for healthy indoor air but are not utilized in most cases.

One of the most dangerous toxic soups introduced into a highly efficient Building Science Green Built House is the foam insulation. Operator error often results in the product not being mixed correctly. The manufacturer’s instructions are commonly ignored by installing the dry wall before a significant amount of off gassing has occurred.

An alternative total fill insulation product which is non-toxic called Air-Krete seems to be the only viable alternative for certain applications. www.airkrete.com Also, blown in cellulose can be non-toxic total fill insulation if boric acid is the only additive. Unfortunately, in recent years some brands of cellulose now contain other toxic chemicals.

Websites for further study:

www.econesthomes.com

www.nbnetwork.org

www.HealthyHousingSolutions.com

www.HealthyHouseInstitute.com

100 Elder Hill Road
Ste. 145
Driftwood, Texas 78619


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