There are very few buildings that, to some extent, do not pose a risk to human health or cause environmental harm.
As we become increasingly more aware of the need for the built environment to tackle the issues of climate change in a way that is not detrimental to our health, so too do these matters come to the forefront of building science.
We consider human health under the principles of Building Biology to be a primary barometer of building performance – not just the metrics of building physics.
It’s well understood in biology that human, plant and animal life is a product of and is influenced by the environment.
For thousands of generations human kind has been completely dependant upon an almost entirely natural environment.
No generation before us has spent as much time in closed rooms as we do. Research suggests that up to 90% of our time is spent in a building or a vehicle!
With this in mind building biology sets out how to design and build without causing environmental harm and in a way that nourishes human wellbeing.
We define Building Biology as:
“the study of the holistic relationships between humans and their built environment. The aim is to create a healthy, natural, sustainable, and beautifully designed living and working environment.”
We refer to the building fabric as the third skin; our first skin being the epidermis (the actual skin of our body’s) and the second skin being our clothing.
This concept reflects how closely connected we are to the built environment.
People are often unaware of the impact that the built environment can have on our health and well being.
Building Biology considers:
internal air quality (particularly the concentration of carbon dioxide),
supply of sufficient fresh air,
exposure to toxic moulds and bacteria,
minimising exposure to static and alternating electromagnetic fields, wireless radiation and radioactivity.
Further, where concerned with material toxicity, Building Biology Consultants specialise in consultation on:
– Sustainable new construction
– Retrofit and remediation
– Building material selection
– Furniture and interior design
– Energy efficient buildings and building services (such as ventilation, plumbing electrical layouts and lighting design).
They are concerned with internal air quality, pollutants and indoor toxins, house & wood pests, radon and radioactivity, mould problems.
The holistic interdisciplinary science of building biology (or Baubiologie in German) was born from a post war Germany by a group of professionals from a variety of professionals who were concerned about the ability of post war building culture to support human & environmental health.
It was at this time were the terms SBS (sick building syndrome) and BRI (building related illness) were coined.
Sick building syndrome is a term that refers to a set of acute health and comfort implications that affect a sizeable percentage, usually more than 20% of building’s occupants, during the time they spend in the building.
The symptoms diminish or go away during periods when they leave the building. These symptoms cannot be traced to specific pollutants or sources within the building. In contrast, the term “building-related illness” (BRI) is used when symptoms of a diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants. related to chronic illnesses that can be directly related to indoor air pollution and poor living conditions in buildings.
One of the central principles of Building Biology, which came from the early post war work, is that nature is the golden principle. Which is to say, insofar as possible, we should be designing our buildings such that air & water quality, levels of static and alternating electromagnetic radiation and radioactivity match as close as possible to the naturally occurring levels in nature.
Building Biology brings together fields of study that are otherwise considered in isolation. It is an interconnecting science that bring together many facets relating to health and construction including:
biology, medicine, building physics, chemistry and ecology and is now an internationally recognised authority on healthy building design.
Our own experience over the past 25+ years supports the philosophy that it is best to have the relevant costs of healthy, sustainable building and living upfront and not to pass these costs on to future generations or the environment.
Our goal is to make it so that the knowledge and practices of Building Biology is accessible and can become a foundation to all building and living practices, not just as a luxury for a few.