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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn about the impact of building construction on human psychological and physical health.

  • Learn how to determine the impact of building construction characteristics upon human health.
  • Gain an understanding to enable you to recommend changes in building design to improve habitability.
  • The course covers:
    • building materials,
    • construction techniques,
    • electrical wiring,
    • temperature and light control,
    • ventilation,
    • plumbing,
    • ergonomics,
    • psychological factors.

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Identify and understand how buildings can cause health issues for some people.

Many buildings contain hazardous materials or substances without the owner's knowledge. Freshly constructed cement homes have high levels of moisture, homes built in the 1960's contain asbestos cement which is known to be carcinogenic and old piping systems are frequently painted with lead paints. In addition to the household disinfectants, fly sprays, paints, varnishes, and other fumes released from a large range of furnishings and commodities are of no benefit to the occupant's health.

Build your knowledge of building biology

  • Discover the impact of building construction on human health.
  • Learn about building biology, building diseases, the impact of services, light, colour and much more.
  • Professional Development for people working in Building and Construction, Health Services or Engineering.
  • 100 hours of self-paced study - available to start at any time.

Issues range from building design and location through to relative elements such as the wrong furniture, electrical devices and cleaning materials. All of these will have an impact upon those in and around the building.

Course Structure and Lesson Content

The Healthy Buildings Construction course comprises 10 lessons, as follows:

Lesson 1. Introduction To Building Biology
  • Scope and Nature of Building Biology
  • Building Diseases - Chemical, Electrical, Cage, Location
  • Environmental Law
  • Biological Damage to Buildings
  • Environmental Considerations
  • Clean Interiors
Lesson 2. Building Materials
  • Introduction
  • Dangerous Building Materials
  • Chemical Effects on the Human Body
  • Timber
  • Formaldehyde Adhesives
  • Plastics
  • Masonry and Concrete
  • Insulation Materials
  • Soft Furnishings
  • Paints
  • Timber Treatments, stains, polishes, etc.
Lesson 3. Construction
  • Roofing Materials
  • Roof Gardens
  • Roof Construction
  • Floors
  • Reasons to Choose Different Floors or Floor Coverings
  • Pests in Buildings
  • Dust Mites
  • Fleas
  • Ants
  • Termites, Flies, Mosquitoes, Wasps, Cockroaches, etc.
  • Spiders
  • Rodents, Birds, Snakes, etc.
Lesson 4. Services
  • Electricity
  • Electrical Fields
  • Circuits
  • Measuring Electricity and Exposure limits
  • Terminology
  • Power Supply Systems
  • General Waste Disposal
  • Waste Water
Lesson 5. Temperature
  • Introduction to Heating and Cooling
  • Principles of Temperature Control
  • Heat Loss
  • Types of Heaters
  • Cooling Effects
  • Air Cleaners, Filtration, Circulation, Air Conditioning
  • Energy Conservation
  • Solar House Design
  • Active and Passive Solar Heating Systems
Lesson 6. The Internal Environment: Ventilation
  • >Scope and Nature
  • Natural Ventilation
  • Mechanical Ventilation
  • Air Conditioning
  • Humidity Management
Lesson 7. Light
  • Internal Light in Buildings
  • Natural Light
  • Artificial Light
  • Electric Light
Lesson 8. Acoustics
  • Internal Acoustic Control
  • Improving Internal acoustics
  • Noise Insulation
Lesson 9. Ergonomic Considerations
  • Scope and Nature of Ergonomics
  • Form, Shape and Spatial Dimensions
  • Furniture Design
  • Interior Layout
Lesson 10. Psychological Considerations
  • Scope and Nature
  • Physical and Psychological Affects of Colour
  • Stressful or Calming Environments
  • General Principles for Interior Design

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  •  Explain the concept of healthy buildings including its relevance to human health.
  • Select building materials which are safe to human health.
  • Evaluate the health impact of different building techniques, including construction and design.
  • Explain how the way in which services are installed, can impact upon the health of people using a building.
  • Explain how building design can impact upon the quality of the physical environment inside.
  • Explain ergonomic considerations in building design.
  • Explain psychological considerations in building design. 

What The Course Covers

  •  Explain the concept of building biology, in accordance with the international building biology institute.
  • Explain the history of building biology institutes in different countries.
  • Explain the current status of bio-harmonic architectural practices in your country.
  • Assess in a summary for each, problems with different dangerous building materials including: Asbestos, plastics, insulation materials, and treated pine.
  • Compare characteristics of different commonly used building materials, including: Rate of deterioration, thermal qualities, light reflection.
  • Develop a checklist, for evaluating the health impact of different building materials.
  • Evaluate the impact of different building materials on health, in a building inspected by the learner.
  • Develop a checklist of building design factors, to assess the effect of design on human health.
  • Develop a checklist of building construction factors (other than materials) which may impact upon human health.
  • Explain how design can impact upon different aspects of the internal environment, including: Thermal comfort, humidity, condensation, and acoustics.
  • Compare the impact of building techniques, including construction and design, upon human health, in two different specific buildings studied by the learner.
  • Explain the impact of electric fields on human health in a building inspected by the learner.
  • Explain how electrical fields can be minimised by the way in which electric wires are laid in a specific house plan analysed by the learner.
  • Compare differences upon the impact on health from different power supplies including: Mains power, self generated systems, different voltages.
  • Compare the potential impact on health, of different waste disposal systems including: Chemical treatments, reed beds, and settling ponds.
  • Explain potential impact of different water supply systems on human health, including: Mains water, ground water, and different types of rain water tanks.
  • Explain possible impacts of gas supply systems on human health including: mains gas, bottle gas, and self generated bio-gas.
  • Compare the impact of different types of artificial light sources on human health, including: Electric light, combustion systems.
  • Compare the impact of different types of heating systems on human health.
  • List ways temperature can be controlled inside a building by design.
  • Explain health impacts of air conditioning in a building studied by the learner.
  • List ways acoustics can be controlled, by building design.
  • List ways light can be controlled, through building design.
  • List ways ventilation can be controlled, by building design.
  • Explain solar energy applications in a specified building.
  • Evaluate the impact of the design of a building visited by the learner, on the interior environment.
  • Redesign a building from a specified building plan, to improve the quality of the physical environment inside.
  • Evaluate the heights of three different kitchen benches for ergonomic suitability to the people who are primary users of those benches.
  • Explain the importance of clear and easy access into and through the building for all users, including the disabled.
  • Explain health aspects of the relationship between the human body and the interior of a specific building.
  • Explain the effect that four different colours may have on human health.
  • Explain the effect of space perceptions may have on human health, in a visited interior workplace.
  • Evaluate the psychological impact of the interior environment in two distinctly different offices upon the people who work in each of those offices.

The Biology and Health of Buildings

A building is similar to a living organism. It can provide ecological niches and micro-climates for a wide range of organisms, which should be understood as a whole entity. Interrelationships exist between the building, the living organisms and the environment, many of which are very complex. Factors that cause building decay or failure are temperature, water, humidity and lack of ventilation.

Biological Damage

Dry Rot
  • Timber decay caused by the fungus Serpula lacrymans which attacks mostly softwoods causing extensive damage in Britain.
  • The fungus causes discolouration and cracking.
Wet Rot
  • The fungi group of Basidiomycetes will cause wet rot. These include Coniophora puteana, Phellinus contiguus, Donkiporia expansa, Pleurotus ostreatus, Asterostroma spp., Paxillus panuoides and "Poria" fungi.
  • Wet rot is sometimes called white rot.
  • The fungus causes shrinkage, cracking and discolouration.
Soft Rot
  • More common in timbers in contact with the ground, this rot is caused by Chaetomium globosum.
  • Hardwoods are more susceptible to this form of rot.
  • Thin surface cracking and shallow decay of the wood are typical symptoms.
  • Moulds have the ability to survive on masonry, brickwork, concrete, rendering, tiles and paving, plaster, wood, wallpaper and paint. They occur only on the surface as a miscoloured growth, usually green, grey or black.
  • Mould species include: Cladosporium spp., Penicillium spp., Aspergillus spp., Trichoderma viride and Alternaria spp.
  • Moulds reduce the strength of the wood.
Slime Moulds
  • Slime moulds are occasionally found growing on masonry, brickwork, rendering, tiles, paving and organic surfaces such as damp wood.
  • Slime moulds belong to the division of Myxomycota.
Plaster Fungi
  • Occasionally found in situations where damp brickwork or plaster occurs.
Stain Fungi
  • Most stain fungi belong to the class Hypomycetes.
  • Damage will occur if timber is sap moist and will only reduce the aesthetics of the timber.
  • Damage can occur to timber and stone in a building environment.
  • They eventually cause a slow and progressive loss of timber strength and an increase in the permeability of the wood which adds to the chance of seasonal rain wetting, thus increasing the risk of decay.
Lichens, Mosses and Algae
  • All three cause a chemical dissimilatory type of biodeterioration.
  • Damage is restricted to surface discolouration of wood, concrete, brick, asbestos, cement and asphaltic materials.

Environmental Considerations in a Building

A building should provide a pleasant, efficient and healthy environment for its occupants. Its primary purpose should be to protect from adverse conditions found outside; but in doing so, not loose the beneficial conditions found outside. If a building is properly planned and built well, these aims can be achieved. In most situations, buildings should satisfy the following:

  • Buffer the impact of adverse external conditions (e.g. extremes of temperature, wind, moisture).
  • Make use of natural light during the day (with windows, skylights, reflective interior surfaces, etc).
  • Provide appropriate artificial light (without glare, with appropriate intensity and wavelengths, etc).
  • Maintain good air quality inside (e.g. through ventilation, indoor plants).
  • Minimise pollutants/toxins (e.g. fumes, dust).
  • Control acoustics (stop unwanted noise; avoid interference/distortion of desirable noise, etc.).
  • Provide unimpeded movement and access to all areas.
  • Provide rapid response to environmental controls (e.g. ability to raise or lower temperature quickly, ventilate rapidly if necessary).

Clean Interiors

Interiors that are clean are healthier to live in. Building and interior design should be geared towards ensuring interiors are able to be kept clean without any great difficulty.

Guidelines for a Clean Building:

  • Smooth, even surfaces are easier to keep clean.
  • Areas need to be well lit if dust, grime etc. is to be noticed.
  • Areas need to be accessible to be kept clean.
  • Cracks, high shelves, light fittings etc. can easily collect dust and go unnoticed.
  • Minimise fabrics which will collect dust/ breed pests (e.g. mites, etc.).
  • Avoid using cleaners that contain toxins or leave undesirable residues.


Electric appliances will cause radiation which can be a health risk. By selecting low radiation appliances and placing them in appropriate places, this risk can be minimised. Appliances made from plastics can give off toxic fumes at a faster rate if they heat up.

Why Study Healthy Buildings?

This course is aimed at people who are interested in the impact of buildings on the health of their occupants, whether from a personal perspective e.g. an allergy sufferer. or a professional one e.g. builders or architects who would like to make better decisions about construction materials and design.

Study this course, develop your knowledge and understanding of the different contributory elements for healthy buildings. Apply what you learn to:

  • Make better decisions concerning fixtures and furnishings in homes or businesses.
  • Help you decide how to replace unhealthy materials.
  • Examine existing buildings with an eye for health risks.
  • Add to existing building design and health knowledge.
  • Forge a foundation towards further study

The course can be studied independently or as part of a higher level qualification.

You can enrol on the course at any time. If you have any questions - get in touch with our highly knowledgeable Permaculture and Self Sufficiency tutors today. They will be more than happy to answer your questions, and discuss your goals and study options.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.

Check out our eBooks

Medical Terminology DictionaryThe Medical Terminology Dictionary is a must have for students and professions alike. This book gives an A-Z of medical terminology that is commonly used as well as explanations of diseases. Topics covered within this book include 1/ Medical terminology: identifying root words, prefixes and suffixes, 2/ Medical Dictionary, 3/ Diseases and Syndromes.
Getting Work in a Modern WorldGetting Work in a Modern World is a must read; for students, parents, the unemployed, careers advisors or anyone interested in changing or forging a sustainable career. This is realistic guide to getting a job or starting out in business and understanding different industries. Topics covered in this book include 1/Career Myths, 2/ Finding Your Path, 3/ Understanding Employers, 4/ Preparing for a Job, 5/ Jobs to Consider: Looking to the Future, 6/ Information Technology, 7/ Business, Management and Sales, 8/ Health and Wellbeing, 9/ Horticulture, 10/ Wildlife and Environmental, 11/ Animal Care, 12/ Agriculture, 13/ Hospitality and Tourism, 14/ Media and 15/ Education.
Professional Practice for ConsultantsExplore becoming a consultant. This ebook contains chapters on how to be a consultant, packaging your services, delivering the services, building your resources, finding the work and getting the job, planning and ethics.
Project ManagementThis ebook is designed to help improve your capacity to manage any type of project in any type of industry. It may be read as a stand- alone book; used as something to refer to during the process of managing projects, or used as a complementary reference to help enhance the overall learning experience when studying a project management course.