A healthy environment is achieved by evaluating aspects of environmental health, being aware of your sensory experience, creating spaces that evolve with the needs of the users, caring for and maintaining all aspects of a space, and including your own body’s needs and health as part of the experience of place.
Consider evaluating these aspects of environmental health in your home and work space:
Water: the quality of drinking water and the material of the water pipes, drainage, and water
Air: dust, mold, mildew, wood smoke, cigarette smoke, auto exhaust, pollen
Toxins: cleaners, insecticides, HVOCs from paint, formaldehyde from carpets, outgassing from other building materials, fungicides, soil bacteria, cigarette smoke
Noise: roads, neighbors, dogs, forced air units, wind chimes
Weather: preparedness for all types of weather emergencies
When considering the health of an environment, a vocabulary of the variables that may impact each sense is useful.
Healthy Spaces Are Flexible Spaces
In different settings our needs for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic stimulation vary. The qualities of an office space or business should be consistent and consciously maintained.
The desired level of visual stimulation, the quality of sound and other sensory expectations will depend upon the nature of the business and the needs of the clients or expectations of the patrons. Cleanliness should be a priority in all settings.
When it comes to your home, your preferences for each space may change as your activities in that space evolve. It is essential that you are able to redefine a space, or reconfigure the furniture at times of transition or evolution. Revisiting the use of a space, and reevaluating the qualities of that space can ensure that a space will transform with you, rather than restricting your unfolding.
Remember that in all natural systems, balance and order are constantly tempered by natural variation and the flux and entropy of change. Allow your environment to be a living, evolving environment. What feels balanced to you in your daily routine, in the layout of a room, or in the planted areas around your house, may change as your interior world realigns itself at times of growth and change.
The more you pay attention to your own sensory experiences, the more you will trust your intuition. Many choices about what to buy or where to place something become intuitive, gut level decisions. There is a complex, organic process to the life of a home, the lives of the inhabitants, and their synergistic evolution, which rational, linear thinking tends to smother.
Your needs of your living environment change not only because of external requirements such as a job, children, marriage, and income fluctuation, but because of your evolving interior world that seeks expression in the external world.
Physical and emotional trauma can also completely alter your relationship to the external world. When you move through different phases of healing after any kind of medical or emotional crisis, your needs and your response to your environment may shift correspondingly.
Maintaining a Healthy Living Space
Providing a clean, clear, and coherent office space or a healthy home environment involves ongoing maintenance. When it comes to maintenance remember to
Clean & Clear: Clean surfaces, fans, blinds, bathrooms, and clear energy.
Rearrange & Reorganize: Undertake a periodic review of how spaces work and the organizational systems.
Revisit the Use and User: Continue to revisit who is using the space and how.
Edit: Take out everything and put back only what is needed. Be vigilant about clutter.
Trim: Plants grow. Keep them trimmed and replace them when they get too big.
Refresh: Photographing your space helps you see what you have stopped seeing. Keep track of things that need touching up. Notice odors or other environmental influences to which you have become accustomed.