George Swanson, the author of the bestselling Dome Scrapbook (1981) and co-author of Breathing Walls with Oram Miller (2008) returns 11 years later, after we did this interview with him in 2012: Living, Breathing BuildingsMr. Swanson updates us on the advancements of the building materials space, as well as the exciting biology and scientific differences of materials like wood, paint, and magnesium oxide. In this Special interview, we navigate the unknown substance differences that most of us are unaware of that translates into our living spaces being truly NON-TOXIC.
Uncovering the Hidden Dangers in Common Building Materials
When you first hear about this, you may think, oh, it’s just a Green Agenda thing, but, when you get into it, you will find that in the last 75 years, something as simple as the actual wood has been changed and altered, making most living spaces subject to mold, decay and unfortunately, vapors from materials that contribute to widespread illness that’s invisible to consumers.
Like many industries, the building industry has its own unique politics and the unaware public often has no choice in what materials they get to work with.
The Importance of Consumer Education and Advocacy in the Building Industry
Many contractors, handymen & women & repair people are unaware of non-toxic materials; where to find them, and how to work with them and oftentimes, when given the chance to work with non-toxic materials, don’t want to be required to use them. It’s not convenient. It’s a very different kind of stewardship that requires an attention to detail the industry is not accustomed to.
The consumers of buildings, the people who live in them, for the first time, have to take charge of the project and not turn it over to anyone else at a materials level. This requires a totally different mindset about working with all of the people that traditionally install materials or repair or build buildings. The dawn of an exciting new day is here.
International Perspectives on Building Material Regulations and Standards
Other countries like Germany & Switzerland have very strict building materials codes that make it very difficult for buildings to be built without staying within the confines of these regulations. One may think this is bad, when in fact, these particular regulations truly protect the consumers.
In the USA, we don’t have the same regulations for the last 75 years and therefore, our building materials are not required to be sustainable, long-lasting and non-toxic.
Even when paint is sold as Zero VOC’s, in truth, there are so many toxic chemicals in the paint that it’s shocking how the paint is actually sold to the lay public.
Prepare to be amazed by the expertise, knowledge and stewardship of this devoted building biology steward. It’s an honor and a pleasure to welcome the return of George Swanson.