The 25 Principles of Building Biology

by: Sara on 07/28/2015

Today's blog post is an excerpt from The Econest Home, Designing & Building A Light Straw Clay House by the creators of the EcoNest concept Paula Baker Laporte and Robert Laporte.

Most of us have come to understand the importance and benefits of eating local organic food, both to our health and the planet when compared to conventionally grown, pesticide laden food. Paula and Robert draw similar comparisons between conventional and natural building and to demonstrate why biological building benefits both the occupant and the environment while getting you well on your way to building your own beautiful, environmentally friendly, healthy natural home.

Below Paula and Robert outline the 25 principles of building biology.

We can sense when an environment feels good to us, but it is rare to find indoor environments where we feel the vitality we experience in nature. Why? Because the natural environment embodies a delicate balance of chemical, electrical, and biological energies that has sustained life through the millennia. Humans, along with all living things, thrive in natural environments with fresh air, temperature variation, humidity range, a complexity of colors and shapes, and the subtle electrical pulse of the planet. The ideal role of our buildings is to shelter us from climatic extremes without sacrificing these life-nurturing qualities. In short, the natural environment is the gold standard for human health, and it’s the ultimate model of sustainability. To the extent that our indoor environments measure up to the natural environment, they will nurture us.

There are 25 principles of Building Biology. Each is multi-faceted and worthy of many books. The sum total is a formula for built environments that promote profound health and ecological balance.

Here are those principles, arranged into the four main categories:

Site and Community Design 

1. Verify that the site is free of naturally occurring health hazards.
2. Place dwellings so occupants are undisturbed by sources of man-made air, soil, water, noise, and electro pollution.

3. Place dwellings in well-planned communities that provide ample access to fresh air, sunshine, and nature.

4. Plan homes and developments considering the needs of community, families, and individuals of all ages.

Occupant Health and Well-Being

5. Use natural and unadulterated building materials.

6. Allow natural self-regulation of indoor air humidity, using hygroscopic (humidity-buffering) building materials.

7. Assure low total moisture content and rapid desiccation of wet-construction processes in new buildings.

8. Design for a climatically appropriate balance between thermal insulation and thermal storage capacity.

9. Plan for climatically appropriate surface and air temperature.

10. Provide for ample ventilation.

11. Use appropriate thermal radiation strategies for heating buildings, including passive solar wherever viable.

12. Provide an abundance of well-balanced natural light and illumination while using color in accordance with nature.

13. Provide adequate acoustical protection from harmful noise and vibration.

14. Utilize non-toxic building materials that have neutral or pleasant natural scents.

15. Use appropriate water- and moisture-exclusion techniques to prevent interior growth of fungi, bacteria, dust, and allergens.

16. Assure best possible potable water quality by applying purification technologies, if necessary.

17. Utilize physiological and ergonomic knowledge in interior and furniture design.

18. Consider proportion, harmonic measure, order, and shape in design.

sprouting wall

An LSC wall will sprout as it dries, demonstrating synergy to working with natural materials. The sprouts help the water to dry. Their roots bind

Natural and Man-Made Electro-Magnetic Radiation Safety

19. Minimize indoor interference with vital cosmic and terrestrial radiation.

20. Minimize man-made power system and radio-frequency radiation exposure generated from within the building and from outside sources.

21. Avoid use of building materials that have elevated radioactivity levels.

Environmental Protection, Social Responsibility, and Energy Efficiency 

22. Construction materials production and building processes shall provide for health

and social well-being in every phase of the building’s life-cycle.

23. Avoid the use of building materials that deplete irreplaceable natural resources or that are harvested in an unsustainable manner.

24. Minimize energy consumption throughout the life of the building, utilizing

climate-based and energy-efficient design, energy-and water-saving technologies, and renewable energy.

25. Consider the embodied energy and environmental life-cycle costs when choosing all materials used in construction.

When the 25 principles are applied, it has been our experience that the resulting biological home fills most North Americans with awe and delight—and most Europeans with a nostalgic longing for home.





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