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Active House – Green AND healthy

With the release of new reports on residential health and wellbeing in 2016, such as the VELUX Healthy Homes Barometer and the UKGBC Healthy Homes Report, as well as the launch of our own Better Places for People Residential Working Group, healthy homes are on the mind of many in the building industry.

But we always have to keep in mind that healthy homes can and should also be green homes – we can’t talk about environmental sustainability without talking about human sustainability.

That’s why I wanted to talk about the Active House recently built in Etobicoke, an inner suburb of Toronto, close to my home.

While the drive for Active House came from Denmark, Toronto architects superkul and developer Great Gulf piloted the concept in Thorold, Ontario in 2013.  The new ActiveHouse in Etobicoke used a lot of the lessons from the previous iteration in order to build a truly green home.

And not just green, but healthy too.  If we look at some of the building features that are good for the environment, they all are beneficial to the people living inside that home:

  • superkul designed an open-plan cross-axial home around a two-story interior courtyard: this increases daylighting which reduces the need for artificial lighting, but more daylighting has also been shown to increase sleep time, which can lead to better cognitive ability and performance at work.
  • Operable Velux skylights were used to increase daylighting but also provide natural ventilation, again reducing the need for air conditioning, but also improving air quality
  • Low VOC paint not only improves the air quality of the home, but can also emit fewer greenhouse gases than conventional paints
  • The automation system of the home helps track energy and water use, but also helps moderate temperature which improves thermal comfort for the occupants.

And I can go on and on.  The Active House demonstrates the benefits of going green: not only does the house improve the environment, but it can help improve the health and wellbeing of the people inside, too. Active House definitely creates Better Places for People.

Check out the video here.

Colin Powell is Project Manager for Better Places for People.