What exactly is a healthy home and how can homeowners live inside of one? Michael Don Ham, president and cofounder, RePure, shares his thoughts with Constructech Editorial Director Peggy Smedley, on what comes next for healthy living and the homes of the future.
Constructech (CT): How do you define a healthy home?
Michael Dom Ham (MDH): To define a healthy home means to be able to understand what impacts our bodies and our health negatively and to reduce such sources within the home. One of the promises a doctor must take when embarking on their professional journey to help people, stems from the Hippocratic Oath, “First, do no harm.” This is a good baseline to follow when thinking about what constitutes a healthy home.
CT: Why do you believe there is a need for healthy homes today?
MDH: Much of our health is dependent on environmental conditions and inputs such as the quality of the foods we consume, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Genetics make up a very small portion of what determines our overall health. Industrialization over the past few hundred years have really polluted our land, air, and oceans, leading to the degradation of natural ecosystems. The movement to build homes tighter to reduce energy waste started decades ago without fully considering the negative health impact this would have on home occupants. So now is the time for the focus to be more centered on optimizing indoor habitats for people’s health, which still ensures that we are doing everything we can for our planet’s health.
CT: How can technology help create a healthy home?
MDH: The most marvelous and intricate creation is our human body. Although an inorganic structure such as a home can never reach the level of sophistication of the inner workings of our bodies, we can use technology to mimic various elements of the body that regulate our health and well-being. We can only manage what we can measure so the use of sensors in the home provides the necessary insights from which to activate solutions that would keep air quality, water quality, and lighting quality levels within optimal zones for human health.
CT: What are the biggest hurdles holding back widespread adoption and how can we overcome them?
MDH: Today the largest challenges of implementing solutions that can scale towards mass adoption is cost as well as a lack of expertise in installing such systems in a holistic and integrated manner. However, due to a quickly growing interest in wellness by consumers, service professionals are now taking interest in the wellness technology category and looking at it as a viable offering to add to their business portfolio.
CT: What is your vision for the future of a home—and how do we get there?
MDH: As a society we are at an unprecedented inflection point. We have all but a few decades of coming together to reverse climate change and to prevent global temperatures from reaching 1.5 °C over pre-industrialization levels. If we do not do this now, we are at risk of witnessing catastrophic climate events that will not be reversible.
As a side note: Michael also drafted an article that appeared in the Spring 2022 Connected Design digital edition in which he highlights our Living Lab project.