The term “healthy home” has a dual meaning. A healthy home may relate to 1) the health of those living inside the home on a day-to-day basis or 2) the health of the environment and long-term health of the planet. Both are admirable and important and should be addressed systematically.
Healthy Home Living
Designing and building a healthy home for the family living inside the home is not a simple process. It would seem that a brand new home should be the picture of a clean and healthy environment. However, studies have shown that even though the air appears clean, it can be full of toxins. In fact, in some brand new homes, the level of toxins inside the home were found to exceed the average level of pollution in a major city. This occurs due to the many treated products which are used to build the home and the building process itself, which was never designed to focus on the health of the family. That is, until now. The Jenkins Healthy Home Standard© addresses clean air (almost hospital-quality air) inside our homes, clean & toxin-free water, special lighting, noise control, components for cleanliness, and other health-promoting attributes in the home to bring the ultimate in healthy living to the family. No matter what your age, there are issues in your home that can and should be addressed to ensure your home is a healthy home. Many of them must be addressed very early in the process when the home is being designed.
In 2012, the Jenkins team began to actively study the issues involved and how to make our homes healthier. After working with several different doctors, the components for a healthy home emerged as:
- The air we breathe is probably the most important and high-impact component of a healthy home followed closely by the water we drink. We termed these Healthy Delivery Systems. Healthy Delivery Systems for the air versus water and even food inside our homes is vastly different. So these are addressed separately by the systems which affect them.
- Safe Surroundings – minimizing the elements in our home that can inflict unintended harm to us or our guests, especially as we age.
- Stress Management – called the “silent killer”, reducing stress has been scientifically shown to reduce disease and increase life expectancy.
In developing the Healthy Home Standard©, we studied elements of Universal Design and Aging in Place, studies which have shown how architectural design can influence stress levels, and the air, water, and food preservation and delivery systems within the home. We collaborated with doctors on our findings and compared this to the latest technology in residential health products. That led us to the following approach.
- Healthy Delivery Systems must start with the initial design and carry through construction.
- Design details must facilitate cleanliness, good health, and essential lighting at all times.
- Procedures during construction will promote a clean & healthy home from the inside out.
- Employing toxin-free chemicals on surfaces and minimizing or eliminating building materials that might retain and release those toxins on the family later can significantly reduce internal air pollution which adversely affects the body.
- Advanced technology will control and enhance the quality of the home’s air & water, ensuring good health is always facilitated. These include the home’s air filtration system and our own internally-developed system for advanced water filtration and delivery.
- Design will minimize hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. This is a very detailed checklist we employ during our design process.
- There will be an emphasis on stress-reduction within the home. Stress reduction will be unique to each individual and part of the discovery process.
It all starts with our Lifestyle Analysis, where we learn your health needs, allergies, and interests and then design your home to be healthy for you.
Just as important as Healthy Living, Jenkins Custom Homes is actively committed to designing and building homes which promote the health and well-being of our natural environment. As a result, environmental, economic and social benefits are obtained. Sustainability is important because all the choices we pursue and actions we take today will affect generations in the future.
What is green building?
The buildings in which we live, work, and play protect us from nature’s extremes, yet they also affect our health and environment in countless ways. As the benefits of green building become more apparent, many green building practices are gaining momentum.
Green, or sustainable, building is the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition.
Why choose a green builder?
In the United States, buildings account for:
- 39 percent of total energy use
- 12 percent of the total water consumption
- 68 percent of total electricity consumption
- 38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2012, December 19). Why Build Green?
The built environment has a vast impact on the natural environment, human health, and the economy. By adopting green building strategies, we can maximize both economic and environmental performance. Green construction methods can be integrated into buildings at any stage, from design and construction, to renovation and deconstruction. However, the most significant benefits can be obtained if the design and construction team takes an integrated approach from the earliest stages of designing and building project.
Learn about our true Design Build process.
- Enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems
- Improve air and water quality
- Reduce waste streams
- Conserve and restore natural resources
- Reduce operating costs
- Create, expand, and shape markets for green product and services
- Improve occupant productivity
- Optimize life-cycle economic performance
- Enhance occupant comfort and health
- Heighten aesthetic qualities
- Minimize strain on local infrastructure
- Improve overall quality of life
What makes a home green?
The City of Austin created the nation’s first green builder program in 1990. Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) is now the nation’s most successful sustainable building program.
In order for a home to be labeled “green”, Austin Energy Green Building mandates that it must address several concerns related to the environmental impacts of the building industry and of the residential sector of the U.S. economy. These concerns can usually be divided into five environmental components:
- MATERIALS AND PRODUCTS
- HEALTH AND SAFETY
Austin Energy Green Building, June, 2016.
Component 1: Energy
Energy effects all facets of home design, construction, and operation, from drawing the initial plans to installing light bulbs and operating appliances. Energy use over the lifespan of a building may be the single most important environmental and economic issue to address in a home. Excessive fossil-fuel energy that is used to power our homes results in significant environmental impacts on a local as well as global scale, and can unnecessarily increases the home’s annual operating and maintenance costs.
Jenkins Custom Homes utilizes a number of methods to ensure energy efficiency including:
- Zipwall dust barrier system (pictured above)
- Design techniques, such as placing the home on its site to best respond to climatic conditions, sun orientation and site characteristics
- Deep overhangs on west facing windows
- Proper sizing and placement of low E double pane glass windows
- “Cool roof” radiant barrier decking
- Second stage polyseal around wall switches, electrical outlets and light fixtures
- Spray-foam or blown-in-blanket system insulation
- LED lights, which use significantly less energy than a standard light bulb and last much longer
- Advanced home automation systems that integrate with your lifestyle to help conserve energy
Component 2: Water
Water use in Central Texas has dramatically increased with the rapid growth of the area’s population. Water use has reached near capacity levels during several summers over the past decade. In addition, water quality issues have entered the limelight as development moves to the outskirts of towns into environmentally sensitive areas. Competing uses for water – domestic, industrial, agricultural, and recreational – will further aggravate the situation in the near future.
Jenkins Custom Homes promotes water conservation by using:
- Climate-approach landscaping utilizing native species for more efficient irrigation (pictured above)
- Water wells where available
- High-performing, low-flow plumbing fixtures
- Rainwater harvesting systems
- Rainwater gardens
Component 3: Materials and products
In Central Texas, there is an abundant supply of locally produced building materials and products. Stone such as granite and limestone are durable, no-maintenance building materials. Local wood such as cedar/juniper, often cleared from property prior to development, is a good choice for casing, trim and cabinetry. Local hardwoods, locally milled, like pecan and mesquite, make easily maintained, durable flooring materials. In addition, composite recycled wood/plastic decking and trim products are manufactured in the region.
Jenkins Custom Homes uses green materials and products that have a high measure of the following attributes:
- Locally sourced and/or produced (locally sourced limestone pictured above)
- Reused or salvaged (similar to the reclaimed 100-year-old wood used in the photo above)
- Recycled-content and recyclable
- Resource-efficient during production and/or installation
- Rapidly renewable
- Durable, low-maintenance
- Low in toxins
Component 4: Health and safety
Health concerns have increased in prominence as homes have become tighter and more energy-efficient. In addition, modern building materials and products are typically highly processed and may contain chemical compounds that are irritants to some people when used in indoor conditions. Eliminating or reducing the source of indoor pollutants and contaminants is the best strategy to successfully build a healthy home.
Jenkins Custom Homes is committed to building healthy homes. Use of the following products and systems help to achieve that goal:
- Zero VOC interior latex paint (pictured above)
- Reverse osmosis provides toxin-free water
- No-added-formaldehyde cabinets and insulation
- Installation of exhaust fans and outside air intake
- Mechanical ventilation and dehumidification
- 4″ HEPA air filters
- Ensure cleanliness during construction and promoting dust-free areas behind the walls
- Toxin-free chemicals used on surfaces that might retain and release those toxins into the home later
- Advanced technology used to monitor and control the quality of the home’s systems
- Installation of physical termite barriers
- Proper landscaping
Learn about the Healthy Homes Standard.
Component 5: Community
Green building measures under this topic include location of the home and design features. Universal design can potentially extend the useful life of a home for its occupants as they grow older or become infirm, or simply make a home more livable for anyone who may experience temporary mobility problems from a sports injury or accident.
Jenkins Custom Homes promotes community by:
- Creating both indoor and outdoor living spaces geared towards entertainment (pictured above)
- Utilizing universal design
- Building guest casitas, which promote extended family living and a communal lifestyle
Our greatest accomplishment is building something beautiful, functional and sustainable together with you. There are a vast number of choices, and each one will be evaluated for the specific needs and goals of your project.