Recently we began a series on toxic building materials. Many building products found in both old and new homes are not good for us. They can negatively affect our indoor air quality, cause long-term health conditions, or even worse. Since these materials pose a problem that affects almost everyone, let us arm ourselves. In following are some powerful tools to help identify problem building materials.
Believe it or not, all the hazardous, toxic materials in our homes are not under the kitchen sink or on the top shelf in the garage. Toxic building materials are a problem that affects almost everyone, and it is hard to know what to avoid. These products are right under our nose and everywhere we turn! So, how do we protect ourselves and our families?
Over the past century, our methods of construction have become increasingly more reliant on the products of mass-production, the free market economy, and rash scientific research. Many of the building materials we use today are both unhealthy and unsustainable. I shudder to think how we might have wrapped ourselves in products that are literally killing us!
In my tour of the 2017 Solar Decathlon, Team Maryland was my favorite. Their project called reACT (ie. Resilient Adaptive Climate Technology) proved to me that a sustainable future needs to merge indigenous/cultural traditions along with modern technology. This is not just about energy either. Even though the architecture and engineering were exceptional in this design, the incorporation of cultural traditions gave the house much more impact than the rest of the entries at the Solar Decathlon.
During my tour of reACT, I spoke with some of the team and learned about the Native American philosophy called the "7th Generation Principle". This simply means that we should think about our future descendants 7 generations from now (or about 140 years) and honor them by leaving the world better.
Basic weatherization is a simple approach to improve comfort, energy efficiency, air quality, and the durability of an existing building. Weatherization is composed of two primary measures: Air sealing and insulating. Both are important for improving energy efficiency, but pursuing airtightness should take precedent.