Maintaining a high level of indoor air quality starts before you even enter a home — the first point in Healthy Child Healthy World’s 5 steps for a healthy and safe home is to avoid pesticides. Chemicals used in insecticides and fertilizers can be carried into the home on your shoes. Leaving your shoes at the door is a must in the home tour, to reduce the chance of toxins entering the space.
The healthiness of this home started from the ground up, literally — the concrete foundation includes recycled fly ash (from the combustion of coal). Features like the tankless hot water system (which does not require the use of natural gas) will certainly score points toward the LEED certification that the builder plans to apply for.
The Healthy Home 2010 kitchen is equipped with Energy Star and Water Sense certified fixtures and appliances, including a Miele induction range and separate steam oven, which are great alternatives to the use of gas-powered and microwave cooking methods. All of the locally made Holiday Kitchen cabinets use low-VOC paints or stains, and have no added urea-formaldehyde. The countertops throughout the house are Cambria quartz, which are GreenGuard certified. No green kitchen is complete without vermicomposting, so on the day of our visit the Urban Worm Girl, was on-site to teach others how to easily set up their own worm bins using the organic waste from healthy cooking.
The mission of the house is not just to showcase green building strategies, but to educate visitors on them as well. Local authors Alyson Beaton and KJ Bradley entertained a group of eco-savvy tots with a reading from the recently published book Grow. Afterward, kids learned from Purple Asparagus how to prep an organic snack. The meal clean-up included showing the group how to feed melon rinds to a worm composting bin. Visit their website to see all of the events coming up at the Healthy Home.
Out of the home’s five bedrooms, our favorite may have been the cheery and colorful nursery. The walls are covered in a clay-based paint that is free from toxins. All of the furnishings, bedding, and floor coverings are made from natural and organic fibers.
The architects at Krupp Associates, and interior designers from Susan Fredman Design Group, definitely wanted this showhouse to be unique in the way it invites kids to play and adults to touch and feel. The children’s play room has a dual use as an area for homework.
The master bedroom makes impressive use of natural light. Dior Builders, who realized this sustainable home, are known for their use of windowscaping. Large windows used throughout the home allow for natural light and fresh air to enter, so there is less need for artificial light and air conditioning. To compliment the natural light, a chandelier from local manufacturer Framburg lighting gives the room a nice glow. We also love the organic vegetable-dyed wool rug from Orley Shabahang.
The centerpiece of the “Princess Room” is the hand-painted mural, which is a piece of art reclaimed from another home. Another graphically intriguing addition to this little gal’s haven is the hand-knotted wool rug made with vegetable dyes that pick up the lavender tones of the walls, which are painted with a low-VOC covering. Most of the rooms have white oak floors from sustainably-managed forests. All of the mattresses, bedding, and drapery in the home are made from organic fiber.
This eco home is also a fully automated, technology enabled home! A system from First Point manages lighting, temperature, and security in the home. This touch screen also allows instant access to the internet, and can also operate the home’s media system and theater.
The grade of the landscape was designed to allow windows that provide a spectacular view of a lake outside the home, even while relaxing in the finished basement. This spacious room, like the rest of the home, is kept warm from recycled denim insulation instead of the traditional fiberglass, which has a tendency to float through the air for years after its installation. Dior Builders also used an air friendly, low-dust-emitting drywall made in the United States. All adhesives, glues, paints, grouts and stains used throughout the house involve no or low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Local reclaimed walnut wood was used for storage and trim work, giving a cozy feel to this family room. The Dimplex electric fireplace was really convincing — it uses a holographic technique to create the looks of burning wood.
All of the products selected for use in the home were checked against air quality guidelines set by the Interiors Advisory Board (IAB), a panel of sustainability experts. The team also enlisted the third-party certifiers at GreenGuard to make sure all design elements and home products sued met the GreenGuard Building Construction and IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) Management Plan. The gracious guides in the Healthy Home told me that one of the many challenges was finding window coverings and upholstery that did not contain hazardous flame retardants. They worked closely with product manufacturers, such as Hartmann and Forbes who produces natural, yet elegant drapery.
The home office has a hand-knotted hemp wall covering by Maya Romanoff that is perfect for this space. We loved the detail and texture! While hard at work, you could also have a great view of the lake outside which is used by local children as an ice skating rink in the winter.
In the first floor half bath, a fantastic cast bronze wading pool lavatory is paired with a Water Sense-certified faucet from Kohler. The vanity and the light fixtures were made by local companies, and like the rest of the home, none of the fixtures have chrome finishes, which put harmful chemicals in the water supply during the fabrication process.
See more photos from our tour at the Inhabitat photo gallery!
+ Healthy Home 2010
+ Healthy Child Healthy World
We applaud your efforts to promote healthy homes! A couple of questions - why is a fly ash foundation considered healthy? What do we know about it's potential negative health effects over time? Also, if it is produced from the combustion of coal, isn't that a health concern for the community surrounding the coal plant? For the reclaimed wood, was it tested for lead-based paint? Wood from homes built before 1978 - especially, trim, windows, and doors, likely were coated with lead-based paint. There has been some criticism of the LEED program for allowing homes that have excessive square footage to meet their labeling requirements. A key energy efficiency strategy is to reduce the size of the space you need to heat and cool. We have been working on this issue in the affordable housing sector. For more information visit: www.nchh.org/Training/Green-and-Healthy-Housing.aspx
If this house is considered green, I'm seriously disturbed. All the feel good, expensive upgrades can't overshadow the resources used and excesses in this monstrosity. Sorry
Digaman - The causes of autism are still largely unknown, but a growing body of research is showing potential links between toxic chemicals like those used in flame retardants and pesticides and autism spectrum disorders. Preliminary evidence is painting a picture of a subset of the population that is genetically susceptible to specific toxic exposures during critical windows of vulnerability. Dr. Phil Landrigan, one of Healthy Child's scientific advisors, is one of the field's leading researchers. You can learn more by reading this recent article on his work: http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/landrigan-calls-for-more-research-into-pesticides-toxic-chemicals-environmental-causes-of-autism Best, Janelle Sorensen, Chief Communications Officer Healthy Child Healthy World
Hi Digaman! The Healthy Child Healthy World website has a lot of information about toxins and conditions in children, so you may find some more information there.
Nice house, bu since when is autism scientifically "linked to" toxic chemicals and household products? These words mean something, you know.