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Building Biology and Ecology principles

November 09, 2018

Building Biology and Ecology principles

Much of what I will write about and the philosophies I incorporate in my design work will be based on these building biology and ecology principles from the BBE in New Zealand. So I saw it fitting to make them the first post, the foundation of what is to come.

Building biology is the affects the home or workplace environment has on the occupants, it covers common irritants such as dust and mould but also covers EMF levels and chemical exposure in the home. It looks at all aspects of the home on a holistic level and ensures the health and wellbeing of those using the space.

Building ecology is the affect the home and build environment has on the natural environment. It encompasses many aspects of sustainable building practices and looks at the life cycle of materials and products from extraction to disposal and what affects that has on our mother earth and the wildlife and eco systems around us. It connects us to our community and back in tune with nature.

"We are a part of nature, not apart from it".


 Sustainable Building Principles

1. Design buildings with efficient planning and multi-use spaces for a smaller physical footprint.

2. Choose to redevelop existing buildings for their resources and heritage, and to avoid locking up useful land or building on land not suited for habitation.

3. Design the building, site and surrounding landscape to maximise food production using Permaculture principles, and allow natural habitat and wildlife to flourish.

4. Choose building materials that are naturally durable or biodegradable, re-usable or recyclable, and from renewable, abundant or non-depletable sources.

5. Choose building materials that do not contribute to environmental problems in their production, transportation, installation, demolition or disposal.

6. Design to minimise construction waste, avoid unnecessary packaging of building materials and promote reuse or recycling of waste materials.

7. Incorporate efficient energy use and renewable and on-site energy sources in the building design to achieve zero net imported energy use.

8. Plan developments to reduce reliance on mechanised transport, and use renewable sources of fuel for longer haul transportation.

9. Incorporate efficient water use and on-site stormwater and wastewater disposal in the building design to achieve zero net imported water use.

10. Restore and enhance water quality before returning it to the natural ecosystem.

Healthy building principles


1. Design buildings to be free from technical electromagnetic interference, keep a natural ionisation balance, be open to natural magnetic fields and beneficial cosmic and terrestrial radiation and avoid harmful terrestrial radiation.

2. Choose building materials that are non-toxic, non-radioactive, and do not off-gas harmful chemicals.

3. Choose building materials that allow water vapour and air diffusion to regulate the humidity of the indoor environment, and to filter and neutralise air pollutants.

4. Ensure the indoor environment does not promote, accumulate or circulate harmful vapours, particles, radioactivity, bacteria, viruses and fungi.

5. Heat and ventilate the building using natural and manually adjustable means.

6. Ensure the indoor air temperature varies during the day and from room to room, but is still within the optimum range for the health of the occupants.

7. Insulate against or isolate from unwanted noise and vibration.

8. Light a building with daylight or natural light spectrum artificial light during the day, and warmer tinted lighting for evenings.

9. Provide an outlook to nature from all rooms, and allow easy access to the natural environment.

10. Design for ergonomics and safety

Harmonious living principles

1. Use colour to promote the psychological well being of the occupants.

2. Design using natural patterns and laws of harmony and proportion, and to a human scale.

3. Create a building that embraces the relevant ancestral, cultural or spiritual origins or the philosophical standpoint of its occupants.

4. Create a building with soulful elements that express the occupants’ creativeness.

5. Design buildings to foster healthy family and community relationships.

6. Design buildings to complement or reflect the local character of the community.

7. Plan housing developments to be away from but with easy access to major traffic routes, and encourage foot and cycle traffic within the neighbourhood.

8. Plan housing developments to be away from centres of industry, and encourage a mix of home, small shops and business within the neighbourhood.

9. Choose to be socially responsible and just, whether creating individual homes, housing developments or commercial/industrial developments.

10. Create small-scale neighbourhoods with their own identity and resilience, either stand-alone or distinct units within a larger urban area.

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