What is a healthy home?

Buildings can be powerful when designed with the inhabitants’ health and well-being in mind. They can brighten minds and relax bodies, providing us with a place to rest, recharge and recover from our busy lives.

In many ways, a healthy indoor environment resembles the experience of being outside on a mild summer’s day – moderate temperatures combined with loads of fresh air and daylight is really the essence of comfort and well-being. By connecting to the natural sources that surround us, we recognise the bond that exists between comfort, health and sustainability.

5 characteristics of a healthy home
  1. Cool sleeping conditions
  2. Comfortable indoor temperature
  3. Fresh air
  4. Satisfactory daylight levels
  5. Appropriate humidity levels

1 in 6 Europeans live in an unhealthy home

Decades of research has shown that insufficient daylight, poor ventilation, damp and indoor pollutants can have a harmful effect on our health and well-being, yet these factors are overlooked – especially in homes.

Understanding the indoor climate

Conditions inside the home such as temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, pollutants, dust and mould, all play their part in influencing the indoor climate. Understanding how each factor impacts human health and well-being is vital for the design of new buildings as well as choosing the right measures when existing buildings are renovated.

Fresh air, comfortable temperatures and acceptable acoustics are inseparably linked to a good indoor climate – and windows, sun screening and natural ventilation are all key components to achieve a good indoor environment.

We spend up to 90% of our lives indoors
With so much time spent indoors, it is crucial that we thoroughly understand what makes an indoor environment comfortable and healthy, and what can be done to ensure enough daylight and fresh air enter our homes. Windows, sun screening and natural ventilation are key components to achieve a good indoor environment.
Dr Richard Hobday The influence of sunlight on indoor health

Case Study: CarbonLight

Plenty of natural light

The starting point in a home’s design process was to maximise daylight. Through extensive modelling, the architects achieved excellent daylight exposure throughout the house, with the home’s many façade and roof windows equipped with blinds and shutters to keep daylight levels and temperatures comfortable no matter the weather or season.

Comfort year-round

Natural and mechanical ventilation were used to ensure a comfortable indoor climate full of fresh air year-round. In the summer, natural ventilation cools the building and creates air movement that pushes stale air out, bringing fresh air in, and maintaining thermal comfort. Together with external sun screening, natural ventilation also ensures a comfortable room temperature, with windows allowing fresh air to circulate both across and in a stack effect.

During the winter, a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery supplements the natural ventilation system, extracting heat from the kitchen and bathrooms and recycling it into the home to reduce the demand on the heating system.

What’s Next?

We hope you’ve found this module useful. Use the buttons to move to another module, or signup for more related content and CPD events.

Many thanks to Dr Richard Hobday for his contribution to this module.