Health, well-being, and sustainable homes—the inseparable link
Though we understand the COVID-19 pandemic extends far beyond a health crisis, the trajectory of our communities and economies is difficult to anticipate, recover from, and prepare for, should future waves come. What we can expect is that the increased focus on health and wellbeing will remain.
Alongside this, sustainability in the built environment continues to be an ever-more prominent concern in industry, policy, and academic discussions with resultant code changes and regulations. The primary focus in the building sector has been on energy efficiency; however, it is the health and well-being issues that now require greater consideration.
As we navigate through the cycle of downturn, recovery, and growth, we’re all encouraged to consider how we want to benefit financially and contribute to change: it makes business sense to understand and align with climate mitigation strategies, as governments are setting targets to be met. Whether you’re a builder or developer, a consultant, in the trades, a manufacturer’s product representative, how buildings are constructed and what goes into them presents us with opportunities to contribute to climate solutions, while remaining competitive in business.
Market demand for sustainable building is on the rise and can be enhanced through greater promotion of the health and well-being benefits of sustainable homes. If your customers are not asking about the green features in your home, that doesn’t mean its not on their mind: show them the green features you’ve integrated into the home, point out the BUILT GREEN® certification label on your electrical panel, and explain the benefits—we can help you with this. As COVID continues, the focus on staying well remains top-of-mind, while working from home reinforces the importance of a healthier, more comfortable home. And, considering the longevity of homes and buildings, contemplation of a healthy home should be of great importance to avoid potential adverse effects. Further, our office receives regular calls from homebuyers assuming their builder has built sustainably. Unfortunately, sometimes they haven’t.
While energy efficiency is a key component of sustainable building, high performance homes may not address other important aspects of sustainability. Built Green’s homes address energy performance and go beyond to include requirements for materials and methods, indoor air quality, ventilation, waste management, and water conservation.
Focusing on indoor air quality, improved air quality means less stress on the respiratory and immune systems; for those with allergies, benefits can be significant. Choose options like VOC- and formaldehydefree building materials, third-party certified floor coverings, and Heat Recovery Ventilators that circulate air and remove allergens— contributing to fewer toxins and dust in the air. These homes have a significant reduction of drafts, cold spots, and temperature variance from room to room, due to the program’s attention to the home’s air tightness and ventilation. Options like triple-paned windows, which— in addition to offering superior insulation (energy efficiency) and air tightness—offer substantial sound reduction from outside.
Assessing the impacts of COVID will differ from business-to-business, from person-to-person, and from community-to-community; however, health and well-being will remain core to our livelihood now and into the future. As health crises and climate change impact our economies, those who work to address these will be better poised for future success. We all have an opportunity to recognize the important headwinds and tailwinds, and to move forward with the market toward a green recovery.