Is your home a “healthy home”? The “Step Beyond Green to Healthy” initiative is a 501c3 nonprofit with two goals—to educate contractors about techniques and products that are needed for safer, healthier homes; and to work with the public to help them identify what is in their environment that may be affecting their health and learn ways to improve it.
“Energy efficiency has become a standard,” said Dimension Design-Build-Remodel, Inc. president and CEO David Kallie. “What many don’t consider, though, is what happens to your indoor air quality when you make buildings really tight. How does it affect your health?”
According to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, and though there are many standards set for outdoor pollution, there’s nothing for the indoors. “With how much time we spend in our homes, including when we’re sleeping, the value of breathing quality indoor air is really critical to our health,” Kallie said. “It is as important to our families as what we eat and drink. For those with asthma and allergies, it is even more critical.”
What is it that degrades our indoor air quality? “With the way air is contained inside our homes, the potential for pollutants to build up is massive,” Kallie said. “The degradation of indoor air quality by harmful chemicals and other materials can be up to 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution.”
“Step Beyond Green to Healthy” was founded by Jonathan Synovic, Dimension’s head designer. Synovic focused on “off-gassing” and “VOCs” (volatile organic compounds). Off-gassing is the airborne release of a chemical. That “new smell” that products often have is a result of off-gassing, from fresh paint to car tires. Even when the smell seems gone, the chemical vapor is frequently still there. Some fumes, such as the chemicals from adhesives and plastics, are more toxic than others.
Prolonged exposure to toxic fumes can cause headaches, respiratory illnesses, hormone disruption, and even cancer.
“It started in the 1950s with synthetics. Suddenly our bodies were interacting with things we weren’t used to,” Synovic explained. “Now our homes are becoming tighter and tighter, more energy efficient, and we never took into account that chemicals are now trapped in the house.”
In your current home, items that probably off-gas include furniture, mattresses, carpet, plywood and particleboard, dryer sheets, cleaners, electronics, adhesives, varnishes, wall paint and wallpaper, air fresheners, moth balls, painted and composite-wood toys, and anything with harmful chemicals like the acetone in nail polish remover.
“VOCs are everywhere. There’s natural and synthetic VOCs, good and bad VOCs. What matters is your indoor air quality,” Synovic said. “It’s about lessening how much gets into the air and taking care of it when it does get into the air.”
For contractors and builders, lessening and mitigating the indoor air quality problem depends on both materials and processes. “Creating a healthy home starts all the way back at the design phase,” Synovic said. “Where bedrooms are, where electrical systems are, the size of the home, and more.”
Dimension Design-Build-Remodel takes the health of your home very seriously. “From the designer to the general contractor to the subcontractors to the cleaning crew at the end, the entire team is on board,” Kallie said. The entire process matters, from the way it is designed and built to the mechanical systems that are installed to protect the indoor air quality.
“Like all things, there’s a cost that comes with this,” Kallie pointed out. “But it’s not ‘all or nothing.’ If you’re remodeling, we can take steps to give you a healthy home without building new.” The goal is decreasing exposure—not eliminating. So, every time Dimension Design-Build-Remodel takes harmful chemical vapors out, it’s another step toward a better indoor environment for you. “Then we’re mitigating what’s left in there with higher end mechanical systems.”
Dimension Design-Build-Remodel is a proud “Step Beyond Green to Healthy” contractor, and the only design-build team in the area that is “doing anything about it,” Kallie said. As the builder of Wisconsin’s healthiest home, Dimension is committed to providing a safe and healthy living environment for you and your family.
When we design and build you a home or addition, or remodel your existing home, it will both enhance your quality of life and allow you to live a healthier lifestyle. Take the first step toward a healthier home and call 262-402-6602 or complete our contact form to get your healthy home project started.