Building a Healthy Environment

March 13, 2020

Condensed populations, novel viruses, disruptions to food chains and global pandemics are taking centre stage. People are needing to shelter in their homes and offices. Holed up in our homes and office workspaces, we have to ask; “Are we spending time in a healthy place or is it making us sicker?”

According to the Government of Canada, common causes of poor indoor air quality include contaminated construction materials such as:

  • Insulation
  • Wood products
  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Inadequate humidity levels

Traditional construction practices use materials that contain wood products, benzene and formaldehyde. When using organics like wood products specifically in the building envelope, chances for mould growth, building rot or decay are possible, indeed probable. With moisture making its way into the building envelope, this process is accelerated. Building science proves alternative solutions to contaminated materials and healthier options are available.

Greenstone works alongside leading building scientists like Amelie Caron, Principal at Ecosynergy to create healthy and efficient building solutions. Using expanded polystyrene and steel framing, we manage Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) by removing the components that cause them. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the most environmentally and human friendly option when it comes to insulation. Created using a steam expansion process, EPS is 96-98% atmospheric air and 2-4% recyclable ridged cellular plastic. This means there are no artificial gases which cause toxic off-gassing and no bio-degradable materials contributing to mould growth, decay or building rot. Cold formed steel framing is an inert product and exhibits similar characteristics to EPS in this regard.

A healthy building requires more than the right materials. A proper mechanical design is critical. Adequately sized heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is required. A system designed for proper occupancy, climate and geographical location are important. While many systems are based on standard calculations, working with a building science consultant is recommended. Having accurate heating and cooling load calculations allows for exact equipment sizing. This means you will have heating and cooling equipment that will operate in more continuous operation instead of oversized and short cycling. This is important for thermal comfort and efficiency.

Staying healthy indoors can be tricky. Humidity is a contributing factor to occupant health. Low levels of humidity can affect the immune response system along with the survival rate for flu like viruses. Having a proper level of humidification can have a direct impact on your health. Keeping the humidity over 43% is key to best health. Depending on your climate and home, you may need to humidify or dehumidify based on the levels in your home to keep them in a healthy range.

For a bit more information on this topic, take a look at these articles related to humidity in your home:

Flu Virus’ Best Friend: Low Humidity »

Managing Ideal Indoor Humidity for Maximum Comfort »

To find out more about how you can build a healthy home, connect with our sales team at

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