Consideration has been given to the construction of traditional homes along with smart and now healthy homes. The movement toward healthier home construction has given rise to Biofilic philosophy. This line of thinking stresses the need for people to be in touch with nature and that the indoors should mimic the outdoor environments. This philosophy has influenced the way healthy homes are designed and constructed. Our research has uncovered that smart homes provide essential technology to make homes healthier. Technology companies are becoming increasingly aware of this idea and have started to provide integrated internet of things devices to marry smart and healthy homes. A surprising number of articles dealt solely with or included the utility of a smart home coupled with the wellness and healthcare of seniors. The following information outlines how healthy homes and smart homes both work together and contrasts the differences of traditional home construction to that of a healthy home.
Healthy Home Construction
- Healthy home construction includes the use of antimicrobial surfaces, especially for often-touched surfaces such as countertops. Engineered or synthetic quartz is commonly used as it is impact-resistant and doesn’t need to be sealed. While the material can be used for countertops, backsplashes, walls, and even floors, it is not recommended for radiant, underfloor heating or outdoor usage since the resins are not UV stable.
- A philosophy called Biophilia has sprung up in correlation to healthy home construction. “Biophilia is changing the way we work, live, and operate within the built environment, and can be defined as humanity’s innate need to connect with nature and the natural environment. By integrating a variety of Biophilic features such as plants, natural woods, green walls or stone, and more that mimic the natural world. These Biophilic elements effectively create a positive response as if people were exposed to the natural stimuli in real life.”
- Appliances that include sanitization to eliminate bacteria, allergens and microorganisms, such as dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, air purifiers and steam convection ovens are now being integrated into healthy home construction.
- For new homeowners, 90% cite a ‘connection with the outdoors’ as a priority. There is also greater importance by the buyers placed on “wellness” over being “green”.
- Flexible spaces for multi-use rooms as well as built-in storage and organization solutions factor into healthy home construction to aid in the occupant’s mental health. These spaces allow for few distractions and clutter, thus leading to less stress.
- Construction and design of healthy homes often involves taking into consideration electromagnetic fields and how to reduce the intensity of EMF.
- Air quality plays an essential role in healthy home construction.
Smart Home Construction
- Smart homes focus on convenience for the homeowner. They include features that allow for the remote control of functions such as security access to the home, temperature, lighting, home theater, and much more.
- Of all the smart-home features, 70% of people rank security devices in their top three smart home features. Paradoxically, 80% of consumers are concerned about the security of their smart home data.
- Smart home devices can help the homeowner reduce energy costs. Smart thermostats, in particular, can aid in quickly and precisely heating and cooling the home for both maximum comfort and efficiency.
- Automation built into smart homes can benefit the elderly by providing monitoring systems preventing the need for 24/7 care or the move to a care facility. Activity and sleep pattern monitors can alert a care-taker of deviations in an elderly person’s normal routine.
- Smart building construction allows for the integration of numerous technologies, including smart grids and preventative/predictive maintenance. The following graphic highlights the architecture and outlay of smart building technology.
Smart Homes and Healthy Homes Go Hand-in-Hand
- Rather than being at odds with one another, smart home technology and healthy builds integrate well together.
- Both active and passive engineering designed to improve housing will be considered the industry norm by 2030.
- Touchless devices such as hands-free faucets contribute to a germ-free environment and are often integrated into healthy homes.
- Indoor air quality is an essential tenet of healthy home builds. Air quality monitors that provide visual cues of the current situation provide yet another link between smart and healthy homes.
- In addition to monitoring and improving air quality, smart devices can also aid in the evaluation of proper lighting which lends to healthier homes and living.
Differences Between Traditional Construction and Healthy Homes
- In a 2017 report, Dodge Data and Analytics noted that home remodelers face the additional challenge of local ordinances forcing them to utilize newer and more green construction methods and materials.
- Traditional homes generally include inadequate air filtration with only basic heating and cooling systems being installed. Healthy homes give priority to properly sealed air systems with suitable ventilation. This normally includes a highly efficient fresh-air exchange system that brings in fresh air and pushes out stale air.
- Construction of traditional homes rarely gives focus to water filtration or purification. Healthy homes are designed to conserve water and may include a whole-house carbon filtration and purification system.
- The use of non-toxic, zero VOC, and formaldehyde-free materials is of prime importance on healthy home builds. One resource claims that traditional builds standardly use “carcinogenic insulations, formaldehyde-laden MDF and particle board, drywall treated with biocides, fungicides, and pesticides, caustic adhesives, and harmful finishes.” In contrast, healthy home builds feature the use of more natural materials, including real wood and stone.
- The following graphic illustrates the standard “to-code” home build in contrast with a home featuring some healthy home attributes. To date, there is little data on actual healthy home build costs/performance ratios, and therefore, the next best substitute was located.