A green and healthy home supports the well-being of the people living there
Zero Energy Homes have the benefit of not only being environmentally and climate friendly, but they also have the potential to provide a healthy home for you and your family for years to come. Healthy Homes is a holistic and comprehensive approach that provides safe housing and health for you and your family.
Fresh Air Ventilations
When you think of air quality, your first instinct may first picture thick smog or haze associated with outdoor air pollution. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, has found that indoor air pollution can be up to 2-5 times worse that outside air quality. This is a considerable problem, since on average, people may spend up to 90% of time indoors. Your indoor air quality can be impacted by the location you are in, the building materials of your house, the furniture and floor coverings you add, the paint you use on the walls, the appliances used, the cleaning supplies used on a daily basis, the ventilation, the temperature and humidity, and the tightness of your home. However, there are many ways to reduce your sources, and ensure a safe and healthy level of air quality in your home.
A house that is primarily constructed of wood and wood products needs to be able to absorb and release moisture in various climate and weather conditions. Wood with consistently high moisture content allows fungal organisms to grow, leading to decay. In the northeastern United States, outdoor air in summer typically contains significant amount of moisture (high humidity), while conditioned indoor air is much dryer (low humidity). During winter in the Northeast, the opposite is true, high levels of moisture in indoor air and relatively low levels in outside air. Moisture in air will always move from more humid areas to less humid areas. High-performance homes allow the absorption and release of moisture to a greater extent than traditionally built homes because the high-performance home is designed with details and control layers that allow any water vapor that ends up in wall cavities to move freely, thereby increasing the durability of the structure.
The choices you make when constructing and furnishing your home will impact the air quality level of your house. Most new materials have some off-gassing of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the wood of the frame to the plywood, drywall, and cabinets, to the furniture and rug materials, to the final coat of paint. The materials used in the construction your home will feature low emissions sources whenever possible to limit excess Formaldehyde (a type of VOC) off-gassing is the smell you often associate with the “new home smell” but is considered a possible carcinogen and known to cause respiratory illnesses, especially among children. There are a variety of certifications and standards helping you identify low emission products. Additionally, appliances installed will avoid natural gas combustion whenever possible to avoid unnecessary emission sources.
Indoor Air Quality
Unlike houses of the past, your new home will be sealed tightly to prevent drafts of unwanted air from entering or leaving the house. Left unattended, this could lead to unwanted imbalances of humidity, mold growth, and unhealthy levels of indoor air quality. However, ventilation (both natural and mechanical) is a central component considered in the construction of your home. Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) are a mechanical form of ventilation used to regulate the air coming and in and out of your home. These are set to obtain an optimal level of air flow to allow for adequate fresh air and oxygen, removal of any contaminants that build up inside or are introduced from outside and regulate humidity that can often lead to mold and mildew growth or dry conditions in winter. Remember though, regular maintenance (including checks and filter changes) is required to keep these running optimally. If the conditions permit, you’ll still be able to open the windows and take advantage of natural ventilation.
Healthy homes promote safe, decent, and sanitary housing as a means for preventing disease and injury.
Even newer expensive homes may have hazards lurking within. Creating healthier housing promotes the healthy growth and development of our bodies and has the potential to save billions in health care costs.