Do the environments that we live and work in really impact our health and well-being? For around 5000 years the classical tradition of Feng Shui has been used to seek harmony by examining how energy flows through a room, house, or garden. It is thought to promote prosperity, good health, and general well-being. A sceptic’s brow may crease into a frown when pondering whether energy flow can really make a difference to one’s health or wealth; but what if there was a modern way of looking at it?
Whilst traditionalists may shudder at the thought, Feng Shui is often referred to as Modern Building Biology, and for those of us who may prefer a more scientific explanation, let’s take a look at the facts.
Building Biology was first founded in Germany after WWII when a connection between the many new buildings that had been built and a rise in illnesses was made. There appeared to be a correlation between some of the new technologically advanced chemical compounds used in the buildings and feelings of ill health. It was found that factors such as chemicals, electromagnetic fields, mould, and allergens caused stress to the occupants’ bodies which could lead to chronic disease.
Building Biology is the science of creating healthy buildings that work with natural resources and systems. It is the study of the holistic connection between humans and their living environment.
The key elements that are considered are:
High indoor air quality is essential, achieved by a constant supply of fresh filtered air and the reduction of air pollutants and irritants. Careful thought is put into the materials used such as wooden flooring which eliminates dust build-up and helps reduce allergens potentially caused by mould, yeast, and bacteria. Smells are important and care is taken that the items used smell pleasant or are at least neutral. Materials used are nontoxic, natural, with the least amount of radioactivity. Exposure to manmade electromagnetic fields and wireless radiation is also minimised which helps reduce the stress and interference caused to our bodies.
Attention is given to maximising daylight in the design of the home and light sources are selected to be as close as possible to natural lighting.
Clean water supplies are vital and treatment to provide the best quality of drinking water possible is undertaken.
Nontoxic and natural materials are selected with consideration given to harmonic proportions in the design. Furniture is also selected according to physiological and ergonomic research for efficiency and comfort. Local craftsmanship is encouraged to promote regional building traditions which are also environmentally beneficial.
Passive design, which minimises energy consumption and makes use of suitable renewable energy, is an important contributor in creating thermal comfort. Homes are built to encourage communities that are socially connected and ecologically sound. This means shorter distances to travel to work, schools, shops, and recreational facilities which leads to more sustainable living.
In a nutshell, building biology is about creating healthier more comfortable homes in sustainable buildings, constructed in communities where people are socially connected and are ecologically sound. In answer to the question as to whether our living environments impact our health, well it seems that the science speaks for itself!