Sick Buildings

Building Biology investigates and works to reduce the potential health hazards that affect our life from the buildings we live and work in.

Using 25 main principles and a number of design, construction and material guidelines, Building Biology considers and covers all possible aspects of the interaction between each building and the occupants as well as the interaction between the building and the environment it is constructed in.

These range from the impact a building site will have on the proposed building through:

  • Light and noise concerns,
  • Natural or passive heating and cooling,
  • The toxicity levels, sustainability, embodied energy and durability of the materials used in the buildings construction and finishing,
  • The provision of low energy ventilation and adequate air exchange to provide a suitable healthy indoor air quality,
  • Improving the quality of drinking water and
  • Reducing general water and energy consumption,
  • The use of harmonic proportions and colour to enhance the occupants’ sense of wellbeing,
  • All building associated waste minimisation and management,
  • To the potential health impacts of natural and technical electromagnetic fields and radiation.

The most effective way of preventing building related health concerns and Sick Buildings is of course at the design and construction stage of a building. But when the building has already been constructed and found to be contributing to Sick Building Syndrome we have to try to fix up the built in problems.

Any building constructed during the last 45 years has the potential to be considered a ‘sick building’. These buildings have all commonly used materials and products during construction and finishing that have been found to have a negative impact on the building environment particularly on the Indoor Air Quality.

Health problems can come from exposure to moisture intrusion and mould, leaking gas appliances, dirty water storage, dirty air systems, inadequate ventilation as well as building products, finishes, appliances and furnishings that emit toxic and noxious chemicals.

Building Biology works predominately with the elements in buildings that can be effectively measured and a Building Biology inspection should include the measuring of:

  • Air exchange rates, humidity and particulate levels.
  • Mould, bacteria, and moisture problems.
  • Chemical contaminants in the air mainly from the materials and products in the building as well as from appliances.
  • The field strengths of the electromagnetic spectrum from static electricity to Geopathic zones, low frequency household power, high frequency radio and microwaves, heat and visible light, x-rays and radiation.

By minimising and reducing the most obvious of the health hazards, the overall living and working environment can improve dramatically and the potential for illness connected to the building can become reduced for the occupant/s.

Building Biology is a re evaluation of all building and design aspects including the materials used in construction and finishing as well as a re evaluation of how buildings can impact on our every day health & well being.

This is no more than a summary of how much Building Biology differs from the other “healthy” building philosophies and guidelines but it serves to indicate the depth of the study Building Biology uses in reducing the impact to health that our buildings or ‘built environment’ can have on our health and wellbeing.

‘Healthy’ Buildings are a good step in the right direction to improve our built environment, but Building Biology is still the only and oldest way to ensure that the buildings you live and work in have the least potential adverse impact on your health.

Building Biology Australia