Healthy Buildings II (Building Environment & Health)

Course CodeBSS300
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Buildings affect both your physical and mental health

There are a number of ways in which the situation and site of a building can have a marked impact on firstly the overall comfort of a building and secondly, though perhaps even more importantly, the healthiness of that building. Weather is a fine example of an environmental factor but then so too is the presence of a potential fault line or sink hole. In the case of the latter two, the threat tends to be somewhat of an implied one. However, it is still pertinent.

These have been used as an example simply to reinforce the message that regardless of the cause, the human ability to sense or dislike an atmosphere is not one to be ignored. Thus if you feel uncomfortable with a certain situation you are likely to move away from it. If you feel slightly uncomfortable about a particular house or dwelling you will tend to keep away from it or not move in (if it was a potential new home). This is a perfectly normal healthy human response. It can be extrapolated from this that human health and a sense of ease and comfort with our surrounds are closely interconnected.

Some examples of undesirable building situations:

  • A site within easy smelling distance of a tannery or abattoir.
  • A site built in an aesthetically menacing situation, i.e. extremely ugly position.
  • A building that is prone to severe heat or cold depending on prevalent weather conditions.
  • A building that is situated on an atomic testing ground.
  • A site that is subject to constant loud noise.

Learn about building biology

Building biology deals with the environment in general and the climate of living. The climate of living can be determined by things such as: Installations and furnishings, noise and acoustics, lighting and colours, radiation, avoiding disturbed areas, radioactivity, space, form and proportion, physiology and psychology of living and working, city planning with biological, ecological, and sociological aspects.

Study this course to learn about all these things and others.


Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)

The presence of everyday radiation is well documented. We experience varying degrees of radiation from the atmosphere, our homes, the television, and from most things that we have contact with during the course of a day. Radiation is a physical phenomenon which is a by-product of atomic interaction. Atoms are the smallest building blocks of matter. All matter is composed of atoms.

Electromagnetic radiation is therefore all around us - it can and does affect our environment. Buildings too, it is quickly being realised, are subject to this radiation. This may affect those people who are using the building. The symptoms of an unhealthy building due to earth radiation might be lethargy amongst workers, an above average incidence of accidents for seemingly no apparent reason or it could even involve acute illnesses such as cancers or respiratory problems occurring in staff. For these reasons, electromagnetic radiation cannot be taken lightly.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Environmental Impacts On Buildings
    • Scope, nature and principles of building biology
    • Environmental impacts on buildings
    • Climate, building location, radon, air quality, allergies, temperature, humidity, light, EMR
    • Creation of electric fields
  2. Chemicals
    • Air pollutants
    • Cleaning chemicals
    • Chemical breakdowns
    • Leakages and spills
    • Pesticides -household, industrial, agricultural
    • Solid Waste pollutants
    • Persistent organic polutants (POP's)
    • Formaldehydes
    • Heavy Metals
    • Ammonia
    • Resins
    • Where different chemicals originate in a building
  3. Building Surrounds
    • Creating a buffer zone
    • Windbreaks, hedges, screens
    • Creating Shade
    • Designing a healthy home garden
    • Going natural in the garden
    • Avoiding problem materials
    • Disposing of waste
    • Making compost
    • Working with rather than against nature
    • Energy conservation
    • Solar House Design
    • Green principles for house design
  4. Furnishings
    • Gas appliances, heaters and fireplaces
    • Furniture
    • Materials characteristics
    • Floor Coverings
    • Cane
    • Metals
    • Fabrics
    • Flame retardation treatments
    • Matresses
    • Dry cleaning and mothballing
    • Temperature and acoustic properties of fabrics
  5. Finishes
    • Chemical reactions
    • Lung disease, cancer, skin disease
    • Paint
    • Repainting
    • Timber finishes against decay
    • Varnishes and oils
  6. Pesticides & Alternatives
    • Types of insecticides -inorganic and biological (organophosphates, carbamates etc)
    • Rodenticides
    • Miticides, Bacteriacides, Algaecides, Termite treatments
    • Understanding pesticide characteristics -toxicity, persistence, volatility, etc
    • Common chemicals used in buildings, and natural alternatives
    • Common garden chemicals and natural pest/weed management
    • Understanding Insect Pest Management options
  7. Managing Interior Environments
    • Assessing air quality
    • Ventilation
    • Temperature control
    • Cleaning
    • Acoustics
    • Electricity
    • Domestic pets
    • Light
    • Colour
    • Indoor Plants
    • Othyer hazards
  8. Consulting
    • Services that can be offered to a client
    • Checklist of building hazards
    • Procedures and business practice for a consultant
    • Setting up costs
    • Operating a business
    • Developing a business plan
    • Determining fees to charge

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 impact of the macro-environment (location) on health.
  • Explain the impact of building surrounds, including a garden, on the interior environmental conditions.
  • Choose interior furnishings which are not likely to damage human health.
  • Explain the health implications of using different types of finishes, including sealers, paints, preservatives and stains.
  • Explain the health implications of using alternative methods of pest control inside buildings.
  • Plan health conscious management systems of interior environments.

What is a Building related disease?

Building Diseases can be related to many factors including: 

·         Chemical - fumes.

·         Electrical - the human body is sensitive to electrical frequencies. Wiring should be minimal, not placed closer than 1 metre to the sleeping bed, and the use of TV and other appliances should be reduced. Even static electricity from synthetic floor coverings can cause problems.

·         Cage - this occurs when concrete and steel buildings screen out natural radiations which help regulate life systems.

·         Location - this covers geo-biology which is concerned with natural radiation that originates within the earth. It is a new science based on traditional principles.

The health implications of a building also deal with environment in general and the climate of living. The climate of living can be determined by things such as:

      ·         Installations and furnishings

·         Noise and acoustics

·         Lighting and colours

·         Radiation, avoiding disturbed areas

·         Radioactivity

·         Space, form and proportion

·         Physiology and psychology of living and working

·         City planning with biological, ecological, and sociological aspects.

Bio-houses and bio-settlements have been sprouting up throughout Europe over the years. They frequently contain solar temperature-control systems or insulated winter gardens for heating. Sites are surveyed with divining rods to ensure the area is free of ground water veins and other electromagnetic disturbances.

Bio architechture utilises vegetation to reverse the harsh processes caused by buildings. Plants usually intercept between 70% and 90% of incoming solar radiation. Deciduous trees can provide a 5º C reduction in heat in the summer but allow the sun through in winter thereby reducing energy loss by up to 30%.

Why Study This Course?

This course provides students with insight into the many ways that buildings can impact upon the health of their occupants.

Here the emphasis is on the environment rather than the materials used to construct the buildings, which is the focus of our Healthy Buildings I course.

Use what you learn here and apply it to your home, you workplace, or other buildings. Make a difference to your own health and that of others.

This course can enhance existing building and design knowledge or serve as a foundation towards other studies and higher level qualifications.

Use your knowledge in roles which entail the planning, design and construction of buildings as well as inspections of existing buildings for health risks.