Learn to evaluate and better manage the environment inside buildings.
Broaden your knowledge of building biology
People tend to get sick more often inside some buildings than they do inside others. Symptoms reported include: upper respiratory tract infections, headaches, lethargy, runny noses, sore eyes, dry or irritated throats, and dry skin.
The World Health Organisation has referred to this group of symptoms as 'sick building syndrome' and it is caused by poor ventilation, biological and chemical pollutants, and contaminants in and around buildings.
Take your understanding of health to another level
- Learn how the surroundings of a building can affect health.
- Understand more about chemicals in every day use and how these can affect health.
- Develop your knowledge to enable you to select interior furnishings, finishes, paints etc. which will contribute to a healthier internal environment.
- Develop your knowledge to enable you to plan management systems for a better interior environment - assessing elements such as air quality, temperature control, cleaning, acoustics, light, colour and more.
COURSE STRUCTURE AND LESSON CONTENT
The course comprises 8 lessons, as follows:
Lesson 1. Environmental Impacts On Buildings
- Scope, nature and principles of building biology
- Environmental impacts on buildings
- Climate, building location, radon, air quality, allergies, temperature, humidity, light, EMR
- Creation of electric fields
Lesson 2. Chemicals
- Air pollutants
- Cleaning chemicals
- Chemical breakdowns
- Leakages and spills
- Pesticides - household, industrial, agricultural
- Solid Waste pollutants
- Persistent organic pollutants (POP's)
- Heavy metals
- Where different chemicals originate in a building
Lesson 3. Building Surrounds
- Creating a buffer zone
- Windbreaks, hedges, screens
- Creating shade
- Designing a healthy home garden
- Going natural in the garden
- Avoiding problem materials
- Disposing of waste
- Making compost
- Working with rather than against nature
- Energy conservation
- Solar house design
- Green principles for house design
Lesson 4. Furnishings
- Gas appliances, heaters and fireplaces
- Materials characteristics
- Floor coverings
- Flame retardation treatments
- Dry cleaning and mothballing
- Temperature and acoustic properties of fabrics
Lesson 5. Finishes
- Chemical reactions
- Lung disease, cancer, skin disease
- Timber finishes against decay
- Varnishes and oils
Lesson 6. Pesticides & Alternatives
- Types of insecticides -inorganic and biological (organophosphates, carbamates etc.)
- Miticides, Bacteriacides, Algaecides, Termite treatments
- Understanding pesticide characteristics -toxicity, persistence, volatility, etc.
- Common chemicals used in buildings, and natural alternatives
- Common garden chemicals and natural pest/weed management
- Understanding Insect Pest Management options
Lesson 7. Managing Interior Environments
- Assessing air quality
- Temperature control
- Domestic pets
- Indoor plants
- Other hazards
Lesson 8. Consulting
- Services that can be offered to a client
- Checklist of building hazards
- Procedures and business practice for a consultant
- Setting up costs
- Operating a business
- Developing a business plan
- Determining fees to charge
Each lesson includes an assignment for submission to the school. This will be marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
- Explain the impact of the macro-environment (location) on health.
- Develop an understanding of chemicals used in and around buildings and their impact upon human health.
- Explain the impact of building surrounds, including a garden on the interior environmental conditions.
- Choose interior furnishings that are not likely to damage human health.
- Explain the health implications of using different types of finishes, including sealers, paints, preservatives and stains.
- Explain the health implications of using alternative methods of pest control in buildings and adjacent gardens.
- Plan health-conscious management systems for interior environments.
- To develop an appreciation of the opportunities for, and implications of, advising people on the health status of buildings and recommending changes to the management of their use.
CHEMICALS IN BUILDINGS
Chemicals are used in most buildings in a variety of different ways, for example:
- As a construction material (e.g. bitumen roofing, insulation materials, etc.)
- As a lubricant (e.g. grease or oil to make door hinges move easily)
- As a sealant or coating material (e.g. paints or varnishes)
- As an adhesive (e.g. glues which fix other materials together)
- As a cleaner
- As a pesticide (e.g. to control termites on foundations, to bait vermin, etc)
- As a fungicide (e.g. to control dry rot).
In many cases, the chemical is meant to do a job, and then disappear. However, this is not always the case. Residues of chemicals are usually left behind and some chemical residues may accumulate with repeated use of the same chemical. Research undertaken by the University of New South Wales indicated that globally there are an astounding 80,000 in commercial use
Although no single chemical may cause problems, the cumulative effect of many different types of chemicals can increase a person's sensitivity and eventually lead to problems.
Cleaning products are one of the easiest ways to bring chemicals inside a building. Luckily it also makes them easily removed. Cleaning products are amongst some of the most hazardous chemicals you will find inside most buildings; this is why many carry hazardous warnings. Slow exposure over years and years can lead to excessive exposure. Because we are accustomed to using or seeing these products it is easy to forget that they are hazardous chemicals.
Most manufactures are not required to list full ingredient lists nor are they required to include warnings against use for those at high risk of reacting. The best way to avoid long term exposure to these products is by simply not using them. A simple cleaning kit comprising baking soda (sodium bi-carbonate), white vinegar, salt, lemon juice, borax and liquid soap will suffice to clean most areas as effectively as other chemical cleaners.
Some pesticides will decompose quickly after application, leaving residues which are relatively harmless. Others are very slow to decompose and can continue to be toxic for decades or even longer. This ‘residual’ characteristic of a pesticide is measured in terms of ‘half-life’.
Half-life is the amount of time it takes, under ‘normal’ conditions, for 50% of the quantity of chemical applied to decompose. Many chemicals which have been used to spray house foundations in the past (in developed countries) have a half-life exceeding 100 years.
When applied, pesticides are often sprayed or dusted with the intention being for the chemical to be carried to the target area through the air. The problem is that movement of air is not really controllable or totally predictable. Some particles will inevitably find their way to places where they are not intended to go. If conditions are windy, and direction of air movement is changeable, the application of pesticides can become extremely unpredictable.
WHY STUDY THIS COURSE?
This course provides students with insight into the many ways that buildings can impact upon the health of their occupants.
Here the emphasis is on the environment rather than the materials used to construct the buildings, which is the focus of our Healthy Buildings I course.
- Understanding more about chemicals used in buildings, as well as other factors such as lighting and ventilation will help you build a detailed knowledge of how to make a building interior healthier for its occupants.
- Apply what you learn to your home, your workplace, or other buildings. Make a difference to your own health and that of others.
- This course can enhance existing building and design knowledge or serve as a foundation towards other studies and higher level qualifications.
- Use your knowledge in roles which entail the planning, design and construction of buildings as well as inspections of existing buildings for health risks.
You can start the course at any time; it is studied by distance learning. Study with the guidance and support of our highly knowledgeable specialist tutors.
If you have any questions, or want help in choosing a study path to suit your goals, get in touch with our specialist Permaculture tutors today - they will be pleased to answer your questions and outline suitable study options for you.