Healthy Houses

Architectural and building practices can create either sick buildings or healthy buildings.

The Problem

Due to our technological advances, we possess a level of comfort and amenity never before imagined by our ancestors. However, we have paid an unanticipated price for these advances.

The standard methods and materials of construction prevalent in this country today create dwellings that are harmful to our health, contribute to environmental pollution in almost every aspect of their manufacture, and are bankrupting the natural resources for future generations.

A typical modern building is a tightly sealed unit. The impervious membranes seal in harmful vapors created by a myriad of synthetic building components and finishes. The resulting dwellings have indoor air pollution that is almost always at least 5-10 times worse that our city streets. Our skin breathes, and we choose breathable cottons and wools for our second skin, our clothing. Who would choose to be wrapped in an airtight toxic bag? Why then should we choose this stifling solution for our third skin, the buildings that surround us?

In spite of the alarming rise of allergies, childhood asthma, and building-related illness (“sick building syndrome”), our standard building practices have not responded to these problems in any great measure. However, we can make conscious choices in building that will lead us to healthful solutions.

The Solution

Our dwelling is our interface with nature. The average person spends 90-95% of their time indoors. In order to enjoy optimum health and well being, we depend on this envelope not just to moderate our climate but also to embrace nature in its majesty and vitality. Here in the Southwest, we are fortunate in that the time-honored traditions of building forms and techniques have survived and are accessible to us. We can blend them with the gifts that the best technology has given us to create healthful, resource-conscious places of beauty. Helping you to achieve this is the impetus of our work at Baker-Laporte & Associates.

Our EcoNest home designs incorporate sensitive site placement and juxtaposition within the landscape. Natural, organic, and handcrafted materials lend themselves to flowing and sculptural interiors. We emphasize the use of natural and indigenous materials and building methods, such as adobe and straw-clay walls, exposed wood ceilings, natural plaster finishes, and flooring of brick, mud, stone, or wood. All materials treatments, and finishes are non-toxic. Color and light are consciously used for health. We incorporate techniques for natural heating and ventilation, designing and siting our buildings with the foremost recognition that living in harmony with nature is essential to our physical, mental, and spiritual well being.

– This article was written in collaboration with Robert Laporte