Tag Archives: environment

3 Reasons to Gradually Go Green: Healthy Homes Chicago

Gramata Development Corporation - DesignBuild ChicagoRecently I posted on the Four Categories to a Healthy Home:

1) food & nutrition 
2) furnishings  
3) finishes & fixtures  
4) systems

If one of these components is not a part of your healthy homes decision matrix then you’re probably not living a fully healthy lifestyle. Most of us are aware of the food and nutrition category but what about your home furnishings? Your couch probably contains flame retardant chemicals used on the upholstery which when absorbed can be harmful and some research indicates cancer-causing. How about your home finishes such as the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the paint you just bought for the kids bedroom? They may contain ingredients known to cause illness too. Did you know a low or no-VOC paint is available in most cases for the same price which is a healthier option?  And what about your home systems such as your furnace? I am not talking about whether they operate but how can they be improved over time with a healthier indoor environment mind?
Some or all of these are often overlooked but critically important to a fully healthy home lifestyle and the focus of this book. Most people are not aware of this nor what options are available to them.

That is one of my goals. To make you aware of some of the options and then how to begin to implement them into your lifestyle so you can gradually go green towards a healthy home lifestyle. 

Why should we care about making our homes and communities healthy and what questions should we be asking to make sure we are comfortable that the answer is a resounding “yes”? 

It begins with awareness and knowing what important questions to ask.

Some Questions to Ask:

  • What can I do to make my home healthy?
  • How can I define my goals of a healthy home?
  • Who can I trust to help me with those decisions?
  • What resources are available to help me establish and reach my goals?
  • What decisions will have the greatest impact on my healthy lifestyle?
  • What investments or decisions will have the greatest economic return over time?
  • How can they add value to my home in addition to the health benefits?


The association between our health and our homes has been known for centuries. People spend over 90% of their time indoors including both at home and work. If your home environment is unhealthy or unsafe, it can lead to illnesses that can appear immediately or in other cases it can lay dormant and lead to illness or even death in the months, years and even decades to come.

The quality of our housing effects our quality of life. Our home can and should support both our health and our well-being for the benefit of ourselves and our communities.

Why?

According to the US Green Building Council buildings consume 14% of potable water, 40% of raw materials and 39% of energy in the United States alone consuming over 15 trillion gallons of water and 3 billion tons of raw materials annually. 

There are three general reasons to work towards healthy homes and communities.

1) Health Impact: improving our indoor air quality by reducing the emissions and chemical mixtures released by the products, furnishings and stuff we fill our homes with can have a huge impact on our lives and the development of our children. Focusing from the building envelope inwards and down to the finishes and fixtures is the only way to being the steps needed to live in a healthy home. 

2) Savings: “healthy green home systems and materials reduce energy consumption, which in turn reduce your energy bills. They can also increase asset value and profits and decrease marketing time; making your dollar go further for longer.”

3) Environmental Impact: “Implementing green practices into your home or office can help reduce waste, conserve natural resources, improve both air and water quality, and protect ecosystems and biodiversity.” 

Create a list in your daily routine which focuses on one or all three of these components and start going green over time in your life!

 

Illinois EPA – Information Statement on the Removal of Lead-Based Paint

The next time you see an old house being torn down look to see if the contractor is making the necessary precautions to prevent lead-based contaminants such as chips or dust from the paint from getting into the soil and the air. Chances are close to 100% that you won’t see any precautions even though they are required to do so by Illinois and Federal law. I saw a house being torn down on Wrightwood a few days ago as I was walking by with my kids and knew the air we were breathing would almost surely be tested as positive for high levels of lead an obvious known hazardous substance. We won’t see the results of this fleeting moments today or tomorrow but they can easily manifest themselves into something significant in terms of negative health effects. Why doesn’t the city enforce the laws when they issue demolition permits? My guess is because the citizens do not know the law. This is a cut/paste direct from the Illinois EPA website on the subject. What do you think? 

Information Statement On The Removal Of Lead-Based Paint

http://www.epa.state.il.us/chemical-safety/lead-based-paint/analysis-disposal.html

What is Residential LBP Waste?

Residential LBP waste is waste generated by a homeowner or contractor through LBP removal activities from a household. Solid waste that is generated from a household is exempt from being a hazardous waste under Section 721.104(b)(1). Household is defined in Illinois’ Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations at 35 Ill. Adm. Code Section 721.104(b)(1) as: “. . .single and multiple residences, hotels and motels, bunkhouses, ranger stations, crew quarters, campgrounds, picnic grounds and day-use recreation areas. . .” Residential soil contaminated with LBP also meets the definition of household LBP waste.

Handling and Disposal of Residential LBP Waste

LBP waste removed from a household by the homeowner or a contractor meets the household waste exemption and may be disposed of as municipal waste. LBP waste derived from a household must be sent to a landfill, incinerator or other waste facility that is permitted by the Illinois EPA to accept municipal waste. If LBP is removed from the original substrate to which it was adhered, precautions must be taken to properly containerize the waste in order to prevent releases to the air, land and water. If the contractor/generator collects the LBP waste at ground level, an impermeable base or liner must be placed on the ground to prevent soil contamination.

During precipitation events, or if liquid wastes are generated during removal activities, measures must be taken to ensure that water contaminated with waste is contained and does not contaminate surrounding soil and surface water. In addition, precautions must be taken to prevent releases to the air which may result in soil and/or surface water contamination and exposure of LBP removal worker(s) and the general public.

Questions concerning the certification of special waste should be directed to the Bureau of Land’s permit section at (217) 524-3300.

The requirements for the management of solid waste in Illinois are identified by statutes in the Environmental Protection Act and regulations adopted thereunder by the Illinois Pollution Control Board. The purpose of the statutory and regulatory requirements identified above is to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that wastes are handled in a safe and responsible manner in order to prevent the contamination of air, water, soil and groundwater in Illinois. For a copy of the statutes or regulations, please write to:

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Bureau of Land (#33)
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
or call (217) 524-3300

via email from

Jim Gramata
The Gramata Realty Group
2214 N Lincoln Avenue Chicago, IL 60614
www.GramataRealtyGroup.com

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