‘A building may be zero carbon, zero waste and have insulation made from organically reared, ethically sourced yak hair, but it may be a diabolical building to work in that is hated by occupants, so can hardly be called sustainable.’ (John Alker, UK GBC, Feb 2014)

The market these days is full of suggestions for the new eco-minded consumer. The confusion exists because not only we hear conflicting voices from the industry and medical professionals but also from the advertisers of low toxic or environmentally safe products. Who is the one to believe? The solution is not to get swayed away by over promises but to actually BE EMPOWERED to make careful selections about promoting health and not illness where you dwell and work.

We now have significant knowledge and data used by green-minded architects, builders and renovators to help them identify toxic materials in the homes and workplaces. There are strategies to reduce indoor pollution by improving ventilation, reduce harmful radiations and suggest ways to optimise daylight availability. Ultimately, the key to this is the 'feel good' approach which starts by looking at your lifestyle and how you will use the building.

The most important question - Where to start?

  1. Get to know your natural tastes and preferences. It’s important to find a green building professional who will take time to help you tune in to your senses and aspirations.
  2. Don’t just strive to use less toxic materials and natural ways of healthy spaces, be aware as a client to request more about material safety, nontoxic products and their ultimate impacts on the wellbeing that’s right for your project.

How your workplace becomes healthy in the New Year

Does your office room feel calm spaces to work or does it irritate you?

Have you checked exposures to sunlight, surveyed materials used in soft furnishings, furniture and adjusted your seat orientation for the correct visual alignment with your customers?

Go for alternatives

* Explore different arrangements of room furniture, the shapes, materials and the progression of spaces to balance high traffic areas.

* How about exploring a special film for windows which works both as a solar collector and a solar reflector? There are many options for solar gain passive ideas to nanotechnology which are now available in the market.

*Have you thought of making healthy changes to your flooring? Maybe the mineral paints create a more pleasing atmosphere for your business.

*Materials which are man-made or ‘synthetic’ do not resonate with us. Vinyl flooring could be the worst of PVC products around you. You can include cork or bamboo flooring and non-VOC paints.

* Wood finishes can be harder to find, but there are natural alternatives.

*A number of relatively benign products are entering the insulation market including sheepwool.

*Clearing the air is another major challenge to maintain your green office and to free it from the toxic fumes built over the holidays. Our trees and plants are constantly cleaning the air outside and they are said to be the lungs and kidneys of the building. NASA has created an exhaustive list and now, every plant is promoted as an air purifier!  More tips and regular updates are on my blog.


We all do not dress up the same and like the same food, so how can we all work and live in a modular ‘copycat’ design environment? For example, the elderly occupying the same office or building clearly need better lighting and better colour visibility for surfaces than a younger team of teachers in a primary school. This brings us to my question - Should "recommendations" vary from individual to individual and for a given place and a given time?  The answer certainly is Yes.

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year 2016 and may your dream spaces come true….


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Colours Consultations for Well-being | Holistic Architecture | Building Biology | Arts and Design with a passion for ancient cities, regenerating and sustaining built environments. Creativity to me means hope, expression and therapy and I believe in the powerful role of \'integrated and mindful\' design to uplift and heal sick built environments.