Interior Designer / Environmental Consultant
Awakening Spaces LLC
After learning most of my health issues were attributed to mold exposure, my world turned upside down. Everything I had learned over the past 10 years as an interior designer had been challenged to the full extent. I realized I had been doing things completely wrong and that many of the things I had been specifying might be causing more harm than good.
Even as a LEED accredited designer I did not fully understand what made a building truly “healthy”. The discovery that my environment was at play in my health issues also made me realize that “sustainable” does not equate to “healthy”. Designing a building to get LEED points is a step in the right direction, but it fails to look at the whole picture.
Although I was faced with many challenges along this path my experiences led me to study Building Biology and to meet many others struggling with similar health challenges. I realized just how many people struggle with environmentally related health issues and saw a great need for architects/designers to look at things from a perspective of health, rather than the perspective of sustainability or solely aesthetics.
I wholeheartedly believe that if it’s good for your health, it’s good for the environment and that is the belief in which I based my practice, Awakening Spaces on.
At Awakening Spaces, we support individuals who have been impacted by mold, chemicals, and electromagnetic radiation to create safe and nurturing spaces through environmental consulting and interior design practices.
We are a community that welcomes all and we believe you when you say you’re not well, even when others may not. When it comes to designing for individuals whose health has been compromised from their environment it’s completely individualized — there is no one size fits all and it changes from person to person. A good rule of thumb and the standard of Building Biology, is to use nature as the Gold Standard.
Just like naturopathic or functional medicine, Building Biology seeks to find the root cause within your environment. For example, you know you have mold, but why is there mold and how can we address the root cause?
Chemicals are a big component of this as well. Whether someone had a chemical exposure outside of their home and now they’re chemically sensitive, we have to do everything in our power to make sure their homes are a clean, non toxic environment for them. There are certainly some best practices that we use, but for a highly sensitive client we make sure that every product we specify, natural or not, that they test it during what we call a “sniff test”.
It’s not easy having to vet materials to know what’s safe. It requires hours and hours of research on the ingredients of certain materials and it’s not easy to do all alone. When I went to Denver Hardwood for the first time, the rep, Lavinia, had pulled everything that they have in regards to clean and healthy. I can’t explain how helpful it was to work with a rep who knew so much about working with the chemically sensitive. This is rare, because as I mentioned, everyone is so unique and just because a product is “green” doesn’t necessarily make it healthy!
Even if you’re not chemically sensitive — by purchasing and specifying healthy products you are creating the demand for our world to be healthier. It will force manufacturers to meet the demand therefore creating healthier products as a standard. Seeing the disabling impacts our environment can have on our health is eye opening and I don’t wish these symptoms upon anyone. Please join me on this journey to creating a healthier planet for all life on earth and preserving both our environment and our built environment for future generations.
About The Author: Baillie McGirk
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