Creating environments worth living

The Centre for Building Biology can give advice about the construction of healthy buildings, removing concerns about environmental impact on our indoor climate, or recommend how to improve the quality of life related to our house and environment.

 

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Design without "electro-stress"

 

About a hundred years ago men started with the electrification of the world. In a relatively short time electrical power has been brought to almost every corner of the earth. Radio, radar and television started covering the world in a blanket of “electro-smog”, and since about two decades this blanket has become millions of times denser with the introduction wireless communication. The technological developments and economic growth of the wireless industry go hand in hand. The importance of the natural electro-magnetic climate in which life on earth is evolved is neglected. The men-made electromagnetic climate of the earth is still so new, that the effects on our health and well-being are only at the very beginning of revealing themselves. The effect on our spiritual well-being is hardly taken serious. And what is conveniently forgotten is the impact on plants and animals.

Inside a modern house we find electricity and transmitters almost everywhere. Although technical EMF is something very new compared to the evolution of life, most of us are born and raised in such an environment. That makes it difficult to compare how life would be without. Nevertheless more and more people are starting to realize that it has an impact on their health and well-being. Electro Hyper Sensitivity is slowly becoming recognized. The electro-magnetic indoor climate has become one of the main concerns in the building biology. While science is still searching for conclusive evidence, building biologists have been able to help many people with their advice in reducing the indoor "electro-smog".

 

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The air we breathe

 

In our modern world, most of the people spend much more time indoors than outdoors. Therefore it is important that the air we breathe is of a good quality. Especially when sleeping.

In modern building practises good ventilation is often neglected. It is important to have sufficient fresh air, of a comfortable temperature and humidity. Realizing this is a challenge, especially when we want to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. Also the amount of chemical and biological pollution as well as dust and air ionization are important aspects of the air quality we breathe.

Due to inadequate design it often happens that the climate we create in our houses are the ideal circumstances for biological pollutants, moulds, bacteria, yeasts and dust mites.

 

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Choosing the right location and lay-out

 

When choosing a plot for construction it is important to assess all aspects that can have an impact on our health.  Taking in consideration natural and man-made environmental factors. But also looking at possible future developments that may influence the quality of life.

 

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Choosing appropriate building materials

 

Materials should be natural, unadulterated and sustainable while emphasizing a healthy and stimulating living environment. In modern construction many materials are being introduced without considering the toxicity of these materials. Unlike many food items, they do not come with a list of ingredients. Solvents, formaldehyde, pesticides, flame retardants, asbestos, plasticizers… to name just a few, are being released in our homes, often over long periods of time.

 

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Testing of the radioactivity of building materials

 

All materials have a natural radioactivity. When there is a concentration of materials containing a higher level of radioactivity then the local natural background radioactivity, the balance is disturbed. Sources of higher radioactivity can be natural or man-made.

In nature different materials have a different level of radioactivity. When testing of building materials is done according the SBM 2015, the test results show a percentage of deviation with the natural local background radiation.

Suspicious materials are certain natural stones like granite. Materials in which industrial waste like fly-ash is used (PPC-cement, "eco"-blocks), glazing’s (especially antique glazing’s on ceramic or tiles in the colour yellow/orange can have extremely high levels of radioactivity). Old fluorescent materials like the hands in in wrist watches, modern watches are not radioactive.

Health effects of natural radioactivity cannot be explicitly diagnosed. Due to the ionizing effect of this kind of radiation, the numbers of free radicals in the body will be increased, which may lead to faster degeneration, and possible DNA-damage.

An indirect source of radioactivity is radon. Radon is radioactive gas present everywhere in nature, although in certain areas in the world the concentration is higher than in others. Radon enters the body by breathing and reaches much deeper into the body before the radioactivity is being released. Although this is a natural process, radon concentration can accumulate due to certain building practises.

 

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The psychology of design

 

The design of house may be technical perfect, even considering all measurable parameters from the building biology. However the occupants may feel unhappy or even depressed due to a bad design. Colours, lighting, materials, forms, shapes, proportions and so on have an influence on the mental well-being.

Children need space to explore and nourish creativity. A bedroom should be designed to relax. A kitchen should be inviting to cook…

Knowing about this, often combined with traditional intuitive knowledge, a building biologist can give advice how to create spaces where people feel mentally well.

 

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Safety and ergonomics of the interior design

 

Many accidents happen inside people’s own home. Safety for children, accessibility for disabled are issues that need to be taken in consideration. But also the ergonomics are important, a relaxing bed, an office chair that doesn’t strain you body unnecessarily, a kitchen where everything is within reach, while having enough space to work…

 

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Creating space for social life

 

Because many modern urban design and the increase of material wealth people are becoming more and more socially isolated. There is a need to create settlements that stimulate an active social life.