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Your Naturally Healthy Home: Stylish, Safe, Simple

Your Naturally Healthy Home: Stylish, Safe, Simple

by Allan Berman, Alan Berman, Allan Berman
Whether you're building a new house or upgrading the one you've already got,Your Naturally Healthy Home will help you create a home that is comfortable to live in as well as kind to your health and to the planet. With more than 200 lush color photographs for inspiration, you'll find all this and more in this essential handbook for the environmentally


Whether you're building a new house or upgrading the one you've already got,Your Naturally Healthy Home will help you create a home that is comfortable to live in as well as kind to your health and to the planet. With more than 200 lush color photographs for inspiration, you'll find all this and more in this essential handbook for the environmentally conscious homeowner:

Expert guidance from an architect who is actively involved in environmental design
Practical advice on how to choose materials, furnishings, and fixtures
Detailed charts that will help you evaluate the materials and products available and select what is best for your healthy home
Information on household appliances and their effect on your home environment
An extensive list of suppliers so that you'll know where to turn to investigate products or comparison-shop for ones you want for your home

Author Biography: Alan Berman is a partner in Berman Guedes Stretton Architects, based in Oxford, England. He has extensive experience in renovating historic properties as well as in designing new buildings and interiors. His practice is becoming increasingly involved with environmental design, and he sees this as a key concern in the building and decorating of homes in the future. Berman is also the author of Floor Magic. Away from the drawing board, he is an enthusiastic potter and a collector of Eastern rugs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Also from Rodale, Alan Berman's Your Naturally Healthy Home: Stylish, Safe, Simple offers practical advice on making the home healthier and more ecologically sound. For homeowners building or substantially remodeling, Berman (Floor Magic) explores environmentally responsible design. Keeping in mind that some may seek smaller-scale changes, he addresses TVs, computers, microwaves, radiators and many other household fixtures. He also discusses fragrances, ventilation, radon, insulation and lighting, includes a list of chemicals to avoid and decodes current eco-labeling systems. Berman also reflects briefly on ways homeowners can reduce their consumption of natural resources e.g., water-saving toilets. Those wary of ecological asceticism will appreciate Berman's calm, realistic tone and concern for comfort and elegance. Photos not seen by PW. Aug. 8) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
As Berman states in his introduction, "Responsible design needs to take into account the issues involved in design choice personal circumstances, global and personal environmental health, transport issues, as well as ethical production." Berman reviews all these elements as they relate to home design, including how to improve the light and ventilation and control temperature and noise. Chapters on paint, fabrics, and floor coverings provide charts that evaluate the environmental impact of the materials. The resource directory lists energy-saving tips as well as contact information for various environmental organizations and for companies that make environmentally friendly products. An excellent resource for a neglected area in interior design. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Traditionally, says the author, home furnishings needed to be practical, durable, and beautiful. To this, Berman has added the need to be safe in the home and for the environment. And so Berman looks to longstanding traditions of home building, where less was more, local materials were employed, rawer materials used, processed materials produced cleanly, and breakdown upon disposal was not a millennial affair. Four chapters address design and environment; light, heat, and air; materials; and information on household appliances, eco-labeling, and chemicals. The book is replete with impressive color photos and a short list of sources to find advice and materials. Berman is an architect in England increasingly involved with environmental design. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Rodale Press, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.33(w) x 10.27(h) x 0.76(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The choice of any item four your home, such as a chair,floor covering, or paint, may seem like a straightforwarddecision. But dig a little deeper into the origins ofthat item and you'll uncover a vast web of global and personalhealth issues. At every stage—from the raw materialsused, to manufacture and transport, and throughout itsuseful life until it is discarded—every household item hasan impact on our environment and thus on our lives.

    The global environmental crisis described in the introductionto this book stems from the fact that while natureworks with benign and productive life cycles, industrialprocesses are usually destructive. Nature's cycles are like aclosed loop—biological processes, fueled by the sun, creatematerials that grow and have a useful life until theybiodegrade, becoming a resource from which new materialscan grow. In contrast, many first generation industrialprocesses are linear: They take resources, use energy toprocess them, and create short-lived products and byproductsthat end up as useless, often toxic, waste.

Every household item
has an impact on our
environment and our lives

    Two simple chairs, both with classic designs, illustratethese differences: A traditional ladderback chair has solidwood legs, seat, and back; a second chair has a molded plywood seat and back, and chrome plated steel legs.

    The ladderback chair, whether a simple rough-hewnexample or an elegant 18th-century Shaker version, wasmade from wood grown in local forests, whichregeneratethemselves naturally. The wood was taken to nearby workshops(sometimes within the forest itself), and the chairwas made using simple tools that consumed a minimalamount of energy. The beeswax finish and any glues neededwere animal based products from local sources.Employing craftsmen living nearby sustained the localeconomy as well as the woodland. Any wood waste wasused to make smaller items, as fuel, or in animal bedding.If the chair broke, it could—and still can—be repairedusing simple skills. When it's finally disposed of, the wholechair will rot, producing safe and regenerative organicmatter an example of a closed loop life cycle that doeslittle damage to the environment.

    Conversely, the plywood-and-steel chair has a negativeimpact on the environment. The steel for the legs uses ironore—a finite resource that requires energy to mine, transport,and refine. More energy is used to take it to a factorywhere it is made into steel tubing. This is shipped to afabrication shop, which sends it on again to be formed intolegs that are sent away for chroming—a high-energyprocess that produces toxic waste. Meanwhile, in anotherpart of the world, trees are cut down for the plywood seat.The wood is transported to huge machines for slicing intothin veneers that are then laminated together under heatand pressure, using dangerous chemical-based glues tobond the sheets into plywood. The plywood is taken toanother factory where it is molded into the seat andback—again under considerable heat. Then the plywoodparts are coated with a range of polyurethanes, PVCs(polyvinyl chlorides), and solvent coatings. When the plywoodand steel parts finally meet, the result is a chair thatis almost impossible to repair—although some steel maybe recycled. When its relatively short useful life is over, thechair ends up in a landfill and leaches pollutants into theground as the chemical glues and chrome degrade.


Most of the items used to furnish and decorate our homesundergo a huge range of processes in their manufacture,including painting, staining, dyeing, printing, treating, andwashing, as well as that huge waste generator—packaging.Obviously, our design choices have a direct link to theglobal environment by consuming natural resources; usingenergy during both production and transport; creating byproductemissions that pollute the air, water, or ground;and in the longevity of any product in both its useful andwaste states. While this doesn't mean our only choice is tolive with a house full of antiques, we need to make smartchoices for our homes.

    Realizing that nearly every object used in making andfurnishing a home has an impact on the environmentmakes the need for ecologically sound choices all tooclear. There are essentially two positive approaches we canadopt in order to make safe, healthy, homes and help theplanet. We can take inspiration from traditional buildingtechniques that have proved safe for centuries and existedbefore the industrial revolution, and we can seek out thegrowing number of exciting new products that are beginningto be developed by a new, 21st-century industrialrevolution. Cleaner processes imitate nature's closed loopcycles to avoid resource depletion, waste, and pollution.Such methods make cleaner, safer products, paving the wayto healthier homes—and a healthier planet.

Excerpted from Your Naturally Healthy Home by Alan Berman. Copyright © 2001 by Frances Lincoln Limited. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

The Reluctant Sheriff
The United States After the Cold War

By Richard N. Haass


Copyright © 1997 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc..All rights reserved.

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