The Adverse Effects of Housing: Asheville Architectural Firm Works Towards a Solution

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Several recent studies have shown that the houses we live in negatively affect our health and the environment. Carlton Architecture, of Asheville North Carolina, is one firm that is working towards a solution to those problems with sustainable housing.

As architects, we are in a unique position to shape how the buildings we design will perform.

Recent studies are showing that the houses we live in negatively affect our health, our environment, and our children's future. It is architects who adopt green building practices, who are beginning to lead us towards a greener, healthier future.

One such architectural firm is Carlton Architecture, who states on their website, "As architects, we are in a unique position to shape how the buildings we design will perform."

When you begin to look at the data that surrounds housing and our health, it becomes quite apparent how important firms like Carlton will be to our future.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, buildings are responsible for more that 50% of greenhouse gas emissions, and consume more than 75% of the power that is generated in the US.

When built using more traditional designs (and materials) a home is also more likely to cause health problems. In highly populated areas asthma, for example, is a growing problem. Between 1980 and 1994, cases of the respiratory illness increased by 75%.

In the past this increase was linked to automobiles and overall air quality. Although those are both contributing factors, the APHA is also beginning to see a direct correlation between building density and problems such as asthma and allergies. More buildings mean more pollution, and as the problem grows so do the cases of asthma.

There is also a link between the materials used to build a home and other health problems. Respiratory illnesses, allergies, and a few other issues have been linked to the homes that we live in.

The adverse effects of our homes do not stop there. There are economic effects brought on by housing as well. A recent study in Buffalo, New York showed that housing actually contributed to poverty. Poorer residents, who were unable to keep up with the large utility bills of their traditional houses, often went without heat and power. That same study led to an initiative to turn low cost housing into green buildings, thus reducing poverty in the area.

Another study, published in the International Advances in Economic Research Journal, showed that the price of a house was also affected by the quality of the air in the community. As building density increases in an area, so does pollution and particulate emissions. This leads to a drop in the actual property values in an area.

When you look at firms like Carlton Architecture, the solution to these problems becomes quite clear. With innovative approaches that use natural building materials, and include green measures like passive sustainability and energy conservation, Carlton is becoming a leader in the green housing initiative.

With all of the recent data, it becomes quite apparent that it is firms like Carlton that will lead us into the future. Designing houses that blend with the environment instead of ruining it, and homes that are healthier for those who live in them is an important first step towards a sustainable future.

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Rob Carlton

Linda Titus
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