Healthy home trends for 2019: a smarter way to think about living spaces5 minutes
Can a home make its inhabitants healthier? Judging from much of the smart tech on display at CES last month, it’s only a matter of time. There were solutions to improve our sleep, make more nutritious meals and nudge us to work out, but the biggest news was human-centric tech that detects and learns to respond to our needs. From emotive to biometric to balance sensing technologies, soon your home will know you better than you know yourself, and tailor your environment to improve your physical and emotional well-being.
As living spaces become intelligent and products put people first, the home of the future will be geared towards helping its occupants live in health and comfort. Think good indoor air quality. Non-toxic building materials. A healthy dose of sunlight. Leaders in the home and building sector are shaping up their businesses now to capitalize on this growing market. Here’s what you need to know about healthy homes and where we’re all heading.
Healthy living will soon be a given
Eco Pulse reports that 66% of Millennials are concerned about indoor air quality (IAQ), and rightfully so. In a single year, a six-room house collects an average of 40 pounds of dust which can be laced with up to 45 toxic chemicals, according to the EPA. And we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors, where pollutants can be 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels.
This generation of tech-savvy, hyper-aware homeowners are expected to outnumber Boomers by next year. Shrewd builders, architects and other home professionals are already shifting their business strategy to serve the needs of this huge contingent of future homeowners.
“In the next 15 years, we are going to see a jump in the number of people wanting a healthy living environment,” predicts Kelly Nemergut, a partner at N2 Architecture. “There’s more knowledge out there, and the younger generations are more aware. They will do their own education, make sure they do what’s best for their bodies, eliminating products that could make them sick. For tomorrow’s consumers, a healthy home will be the price of entry,” she notes.
Green doesn’t always mean clean
Nemergut says a lot of homebuyers want eco-friendly solutions because they’re trendy, but they don’t always think about the health benefits of going green. “Architects and builders must make the connection for consumers that we’re creating better, healthier environments for them and their families to live, play and sleep in.”
As homes are built more tightly to be more energy efficient, there is an unintended consequence of poor IAQ. Years ago, when homes were built with less concern for energy efficiency, there were lots of opportunities for fresh air to enter the home and flush out the stale, contaminated air. Ventilation just happened – automatically – with air finding its way in through cracks around windows and doors, electrical receptacles, joints between walls, ceilings, and floors.
With energy efficient homes, the indoor air needs to be managed to ensure what you’re breathing is clean and pure. Studies have shown that indoor air in airtight homes can contain up to 10 times more Volatile Organic Compounds than outdoor air. VOC’s can create serious health consequences, especially for young children or those with asthma or other health challenges.
Data to assess your home’s health
A new crop of home improvement specialists are using technology – and the data gleaned from it – to assess a home’s health and make sure the residence “works well as a whole.” Home performance pros can come in and test air quality, moisture, air flow pressure and heat flow to see where inefficiencies exist. Clients are presented with actual scientific results in addition to solution recommendations, so they know where in their home to spend their money and time, and can measure how much improvement was made.
From blower door, duct tightness and exhaust fan flow tests to infrared thermal scans of enclosures, savvy contractors are already using home performance testing to prove – with hard data – that their work is better than the competition. Test results also enable contractors to guarantee their work for a very long time.
The number one goal of home performance, according to one specialist, is to give clients control of their environment and predict what’s going to happen, from how their basement will feel next winter to how much how carbon monoxide their babies are going to be breathing five years down the road.