HEALTHY HOMES

Introduction

On average a Dane spends 62% of their life within the confines of their private home. This means that we are subjected to the indoor environment of our houses for almost two-thirds of our entire lifetime, but what kinds of problems do sealed homes with bad indoor climate in fact pose?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and particles in the air indoors are a health hazard to human beings. These compounds are to be found throughout our homes, either from building materials or through our use of the home. There are a whole range of health consequences of VOC’s and particles in the indoor climate e.g. asthma, cancer, COPD, Arteriosclerosis, hormonal disruptions, DNA damage and reduced fertility. That our life style and indoor climate has an impact on our bodies becomes especially clear when presented with the fact that more than 1,2 million (out of 5,6 million) of the Danish population has some kind of allergy. Allergies are estimated to cost 290.000 sick days and 1,6 million inefficient working days annually in Denmark. The economical burden on our society due to reduced productivity is estimated to be 37 billion DKK annually. This clearly illustrates the perspectives in improving indoor climate quality, not just for the individual, but for society in its entirety.

TYPE, SIZE, SITE

Private house

435 m²

Denmark, Holstebro

CUSTOMER

Realdania Byg

PARTNERS

Pluskontoret Arkitekter

MOE

Prof. Torben Sigsgaard

STATUS, YEAR

Under development

2015

TEAM

Partner in charge: Anders Lendager

Project leader: Jonas Vistesen, Iben Schlanbusch Nørkjær

Employees: Christian B. Østerby, Mathias Ruø, Nicholas Ransome, Sunniva Nørvåg Garshol

Concept

In the healthy homes we wish to achieve a balance between a measurably healthy indoor climate and a perceivably pleasant indoor climate. The measurable aspects focus on solving problems regarding particles and degassing, as well as maintaining a low energy consumption for the building. One of the conditions of the competition was that Sunde Boliger should live up to the BR2015 (Danish building code) requirements. The perceivably pleasant indoor climate is about creating a good home with regard to daylight, acoustics, humidity, odour and temperature issues.

The only way to remove the harmful particles from the air is through increased ventilation. In the past few years ventilation in low energy buildings has been reduced to save energy, but this reduction also means that the harmful particles are staying inside in higher concentrations, creating a bad indoor climate. In the Healthy Homes we have therefore focused on better ventilation which makes sure the air inside is fresh and healthy.

Holistic understanding of the home

To understand the concept of a healthy home, it is necessary to view every house from a holistic point of view. This means that solving indoor climate issues alone is not enough, we must also address other parameters. Below four different points are listed that each describe an aspect of the healthy home. These points are: healthy indoor climate, healthy lifestyle, healthy economy and social health.

HEALTHY INDOOR CLIMATE

The healthy indoor climate is comprised of two equally important parts. Firstly, the measurably healthy indoor climate, which concerns particles, VOC’s and humidity, that all have a negative impact on health. Secondly the perceivable indoor climate, which is created by the building envelope and its architecture. This part is about working with daylight, acoustics, draft, temperature, cold radiation and humidity in the buildings. All these parameters will be tied together into a healthy architecture.

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

The healthy home should be the foundation of a healthy and active life. The healthy home makes it easy to sustain a healthy lifestyle through easy access to open spaces that encourage physical movement and make contact with nature and light a priority within the home. Apart from this, the healthy home makes it easy to grow organic food, reuse water and sort waste.

HEALTHY ECONOMY

For most of us, our homes are our biggest investment throughout our lifetimes. Throughout the lifespan of a home, many unforeseen costs may arise that can give rise to worry and stress. The healthy home should be seen as an investment to be realised over time. This means that the maintenance and continual functional use of the building is thought into the architecture.

SOCIAL HEALTH

The healthy home will create the framework for a social life within the house, but will also relate outwards to other houses in the area. This means that the home both creates good private spaces as well as working as an agent of social contact towards the surroundings.

Natural and recycled materials

When choosing building materials for the construction as well as interior surfaces we will focus on natural materials that do not degas (wood, cork, stone, clay, natural fibres, leather, metal, glass, natural paint, natural insulation) or recycled materials that already have had time to degas.

By choosing these materials the levels of VOC are reduced to the absolute minimum. By focusing on recycled materials, the CO2 footprint of the building also can be reduced compared to conventional building methods. The building system will consists of reversible mechanical connections (screws, bolts etc.) and a minimized amount of cast and chemical bondings (glue etc.). This solution creates a good synergy between disassembly potential and minimal use of chemical bondings which reduces the amount of degassing.

Air-cleaning Plant Space

In 1989 NASA conducted a study on the air-cleaning properties of plants, and a whole range of plants were analysed and tested. This knowledge of plants’ active air-cleaning properties makes the next logical step in creating a better indoor climate the integration of plants within the home. Plant beds in the areas of the home that are most prone to bad air quality can help uphold a consistently high indoor air quality. Plants also have qualities with regard to perceived indoor climate, help mediate the border between inside and outside, and add life to the home. To make sure that the plants function optimally within the home, they must be low-maintenance. Therefore we will research the possibilities for automatic watering and fertilizing of indoor plants as well.