Green building has made great strides over the last decade in the realm of public education and implementation. Most people are aware of the importance of energy conservation and renewable resources when building a home. But these days, there is a growing movement that holistically includes your own health and well being in the design of a home. Healthy is the new green.
Natural elements in the home like plants, running water, wood and views of nature have been shown to reduce stress. Recent studies have found that exposure to visible wood grain relaxes the autonomic nervous system, reducing stress. Adding this to your home can be as easy as installing natural wood trim and accents, or going bigger with ceilings or flooring.
Photo Courtesy of Emily Henderson Design
Floor finishes, such as carpet, hold dirt and dust and can contribute to asthma. A review of the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing (NSLAH) found that presence of carpet in a home was a predictor for the total dust weight in that home. Consider pulling up fibrous floor finishes and installing a hard-surfaced floor, like pine or Douglas Fir. And who knows, in some older homes, you may discover a wood floor is already there!
Naturally finished wood also buffers indoor humidity, which further helps improve air quality. When indoor humidity increases, the wood absorbs some of it. As the humidity falls (like in winter), the wood will release moisture, buffering this back and forth swing. Natural wood furniture is another easy way to bring this benefit into your house without a major renovation.
A healthy home isn’t just about what’s on the inside. Views of nature have been shown to improve mood. A 1991 study found that views of nature created more positive moods and decreased anger4. Installing windows to your common spaces, such as livings rooms or kitchens, is a great way to add views to the outside in the places people spend the most time at home.
Not only do views of nature improve mood, but so does natural light. Some research has found that as little as 30 minutes of exposure to natural light also increased sensations of satisfaction, and relaxtion5. Transom windows (a window set above a door or larger window) and diffuse window coverings are a great way to bring natural light into your house through out the year.
To have a healthier home, you don’t have to start from scratch. Consider any of these small steps to improve your well being today. Improving the world around us starts with improving our own well being. You can give more and do more when you surround yourself with a healthy natural environment.
- https://fpinnovations.ca/media/publications/Documents/health-report.pdf; http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/greengood.aspx