These courses examine the myriad factors that affect indoor environmental quality (from air to water), and how to protect human health by making informed decisions.

Topics include mitigating and solving biological hazards presented by mold and animal/insect pests, origins and solutions for particulate hazards, chemical interactions with health.

All biological creatures need food and water. Manage pests of any size—from large (rodents) to small (bugs) to very small (mould) by keeping your building dry and clean. The same efforts for keeping your home clean and dry should be applied to particulates because, if a particulate is ultra-fine it can enter our bloodstream directly, making children the most vulnerable among us, exposed as they so often are floor surfaces where they play, where chemical cleaning compounds also lurk. And yet this need not be daunting, as this course so adroitly addresses.

Topics include internal and external sources of bulk water, water vapor in basements and crawl-spaces, the proper methods and timing for positive outcome of water events.

Bulk or liquid water can cause the most damage to building materials and contents. Managing bulk water entry points through the building envelope, by regular inspection and maintenance of the roof, and penetrations in the wall such as caulking around windows and doors is critical to minimize water intrusion. Water vapor can also severely damage a home, although typically taking a longer time to infest. Learn the methods for avoiding or minimizing moisture accumulation with this comprehensive moisture primer.

Topics include combined exposures, sick building syndrome, building-related illness, multiple chemical sensitivity, electro-hypersensitivity, materials research, safety data sheets.

Indoor air quality is one of the top hazards threatening human health. We spend 90% of our lives indoors, whether at home or work. Poor indoor air quality comes from four main categories of hazards: harmful chemicals, mold (and other naturally occurring hazards), byproducts of combustion, and electromagnetic radiation. The first two exposures, chemicals and mold, can be directly caused by the choices we make in construction and maintenance of buildings. Conventional construction materials commonly contain carcinogens, mutagens, immune sensitizers, and chemicals that are harmful to the human nervous and reproductive systems and the ecosystem. This course provides the vital information with which architects, builders, and consumers can learn to recognize indoor air hazards and how to avoid them.

Topics include water quality issues, water quality parameters, water treatment options, carbon filters, types of purifications systems, reverse osmosis, sterilization, water conditioning.

Municipally treated water is usually low in biological contaminants because of chlorination, but it is not well-screened for industrial and hazardous waste. The chlorine with which almost all municipal water is treated reacts with naturally occurring organic materials, creating harmful trihalomethanes. This is in addition to the chlorine itself which is a microbial poison. And yet health-supporting household water is attainable and affordable, as this course amply illustrates.

Topics include biological and ecological finishes, washes, paints and other wall surfaces, lime and other silicates, wood furnishing, wood finishes,

Surface finishes have always been at the heart of the building biology movement. Natural building materials such as wood, clay or lime have a very positive impact on indoor air quality (i.e. breath ability, hygroscopicity, non-toxicity), and are highly recommended by building biology. But even those materials can easily lose their beneficial properties when coated with the wrong products. As Carlo Vagnières once wrote: “We can build the most beautiful homes, use the best materials available, and take great care and skill to craft and install them. Yet, as soon as we cover everything with dead synthetics, all our efforts will be in vain.”

This course will guide you in how to create an indoor environment that does not off-gas, does not contaminate.

Topics include conditions of a living climate, factors affecting indoor climate, optimal indoor temperature and humidity, windows, building materials, bioclimate and health.

Mind, body and soul are affected in a myriad of ways by the tangible as well as the intangible aspects of a dwelling. Lao-tzu illustrated this amazing relationship most strikingly when he wrote: “Clay is formed into a vessel. It is because of its emptiness that the vessel is useful. Cut doors and windows to make a room. It is because of its emptiness that the room is useful. Therefore, what is present is used for profit. It is in absence that there is usefulness.”

This course explores the physical factors affecting our living climate and how their natural balance forms one cornerstone of our health and well-being.

Topics include fresh air requirements for indoor spaces, optimal climate conditions, types of ventilation, mechanical ventilation, forced air systems.

The air we breathe today is often polluted by a host of particulate and gaseous toxins generated by furnaces, power plants, factories, automobiles and the like. Though the Clean Air Act of 1970 helped reduce air pollution, there are still many so-called non-attainment areas where current standards of criteria air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matters are not met. Further, susceptible individuals may develop symptoms at much lower exposure levels of certain air pollutants, especially in major urban areas, industrial centers and traffic hotspots. Dirty air is not just a nuisance but poses a health risk, including a broad range of respiratory diseases, lowered immune response, higher incidence of infectious diseases, lower life expectation, as well as psychological disorders. This course explores those risks and outlines real-world solutions.