Architects Receive International Research Award and Develop Sustainable 'Healthy House'

Share Article

CIBSE Award-Winning Research showing modern air-tight homes are more likely to suffer from poor indoor air quality leads to change in Building Regulations and the design of the 'Healthy House'

Sustainable Healthy Housing Architecture

Infographic Healthy Housing

Our ultimate aim is to develop a house building methodology that can deliver low energy, healthy homes for less than £100K so that future dwellings can provide both healthy environments and deliver low energy costs whilst reducing CO2 emissions

With most people spending two thirds of their time at home, poor domestic air quality could present a significant health risk.

Now, after years of research into poor indoor air quality in modern homes, a ground-breaking research paper entitled “Build Tight, Ventilating Right? (2014)”, which demonstrated that standard air tightness levels within houses constructed to current regulations are likely to result in poor indoor air quality, received the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Award. Dr Stirling Howieson, University of Strathclyde, Dr Tim Sharpe, Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit and Paul Farren, ASSIST Design Ltd. were presented with the prestigious Napier Shaw Bronze Medal Award at the annual CIBSE President’s Award Dinner last week.

Prolonged exposure to poor indoor air quality can result in a range of symptoms from reduced mental function, dizziness, fatigue, sensory irritation in the eyes, nose, throat and skin and related respiratory illness. Other serious long term health difficulties which may develop depending on the toxins present. Asthma sufferers are also more likely to suffer an attack when exposed to a poor environment.

Paul Farren, Associate Director of ASSIST says, "To put the cost into perspective, Asthma UK estimate that the NHS spends more than £1bn per year on treating asthma and that 75% of emergency asthma hospitalisations could have been prevented. We believe that improved housing conditions will help to prevent asthma attack and many other ailments".

Further research by the team, undertaken on behalf of the Scottish government, has led to a change in the Building Standards. From October 2015 all new homes in Scotland are to be fitted with bedroom CO2 monitors which will determine the quality of indoor air to alert dwellers.

ASSIST and the University of Strathclyde are also encouraging the development of ventilation solutions that are both natural and mechanical. They have designed two “healthy sustainable homes” using a healthy house methodology. In partnership with Irvine Housing Association (Riverside) they will be constructing the homes in order to demonstrate both natural and mechanical methods of providing improved indoor air quality and balancing the need for a healthy environment with the desire to reduce energy use. The homes will be monitored for both indoor air quality and energy performance after occupancy.

Farren explains, "Our ultimate aim is to develop a house building methodology that can deliver low energy, healthy homes for less than £100K so that future dwellings can provide both healthy environments and deliver low energy costs whilst reducing CO2 emissions.”

Current project partners include Irvine Housing Association (Riverside), North Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government and the design team wish to extend an open invite to sponsors for capital and research funding including expressions of interest from product manufacturers.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Paul Farren
Assist Design
0044 141 5540505
Email >
Visit website