How might we encourage, advance, support, enable and make aware the importance of healthy homes and communities throughout Chicagoland?
The concept of healthy homes and communities is extremely important because most people spend over 90% of their time indoors. Whether it is the indoor air quality, the choice of paints and finishes or the cleaning products we use these choices all have an impact on the health of the occupants of the homes where we live. From the plastics to the pesticides to the products builders buy and install the choices must be made carefully and with a focus on the health and well-bring of the occupants. From the durability of the material choices inside as well as outside the building envelope where the final layer of protection is built properly and wisely so there are no moisture or condensation issues inside.
The EPA defines the term sick building syndrome (SBS) to describe situations in which “building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” The Healthy Homes Initiative is dedicated to eliminating the conditions which cause SBS and to educating occupants to avoid health risks during their time living in the homes we build.
This healthy homes concept can be expanded from block by block to neighborhood by neighborhood to city by city to all across our country and around the globe. So many cities are adopting the Healthy Home principles into their building codes and legislative process that our standards will one day be an industry standard. Scottsdale Arizona requires all public buildings to be LEED certified Gold level which is one step in the right direction towards healthy indoor environments. The City of Calgary has a Healthy Homes Initiative that is required of all builders to incorporate many of these healthy homes concepts into their commercial buildings and residences.
What specific housing strategies and new prototypes can be adopted to improve the materials and resources used in our housing rehabs and new construction housing including zoning constraints and building codes which support and encourage healthy homes? The importance of making alliances with our municipal leaders and our elected officials will help shape legislation and city ordinances to establish new standards in healthy housing construction standards and sustainable design principles.
This Healthy Homes Initiative is also about crossing the threshold and making all parties aware of where healthy improvements can be made from our building codes to architectural standards to occupant standards. From legislative and governing laws to how we all can be more aware of our roles as stewards of the environment – including our homes indoor environment, our community environment and our global environments. Each decision and routine scales out to that level and is another threshold we must pass through. The Healthy Homes Initiative encourages everyone to ask how might we engage and enable communities to take more initiative in making their local environments better and more sustainable?
The idea of a healthy home seems so simple but what does it really mean? What should you be looking for when you go to buy your next home? What about your current home? How healthy is it? Where can you make it healthier? What should you consider when you renovate your existing home to make an educated decision about the impact the materials, design and systems you choose (or which were chosen for us) to operate your home? This also includes the products we buy to maintain our homes or keep them clean and down to the daily practices which becomes routine.
Let’s discuss and review the choices we take for granted which can have major consequences on our health, the health of our families, our community and the entire global community. Let us share ideas, resources, methods, links and tools for talking about but most importantly implementing topics related to a sustainable future of our healthy homes, offices, classrooms and communities.
Let’s move this idea of healthy homes and healthy environments across the healthy homes threshold by making it a standard in the construction industry.