The GHB Interview – Jillian Pritchard Cooke

Jillian Pritchard Cooke is the founder of Wellness Within Your Walls. WWYW is a program that educates and certifies homes and products within the home, as well as meeting a healthier living standard.

Jillian has been an interior designer for over 30 years. She has served on the NAHB Design Committee and Sales and Marketing Council, is a member of Professional Women in Building, and on the Sustainable Furnishings Council Board of Directors. She designed the NAHB New American Home 2002. Jillian’s work has been honored with numerous awards including the Best in American Living Award, The Nationals, and The Golden Nugget.

In 2006, Jillian was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She believes the toxins she was exposed to played an important role in the diagnosis. The EPA lists indoor air as being five times more polluted than outdoor air. According to the EPA, of the 80,000 chemicals on the market, only 25 percent have been fully screened for health effects, with many not screened at all. Jillian decided the cancer diagnosis and the facts from the EPA were enough reason to start analyzing indoor air quality with a more holistic approach. It was not an easy task. In fact, it was a huge undertaking— one that started as a personal quest and ended in the creation of a new home building and home furnishing standard that is accepted globally.

GHB: What does Wellness Within Your Walls do to inform the public about toxins?  

Jillian Pritchard Cooke: The WWYW Standard has successfully bridged the gap between the builder, architect, manufacturer, designer, furniture industry suppliers and the consumer. The WWYW standard is made up of 3 categories: Natural, Sustainable and Responsible. Each category was created to help sort through the overwhelming information on toxins that can be found in the interior environment. The Natural category identifies products made of natural materials and free of harmful chemicals. The Sustainable category identifies products made of sustainable materials, providing long term well-being. The Responsible category identifies how to control toxins responsibly through accountability.

GHB: How are these categories studied?

VP: The genesis of this new WWYW standard includes a number of case study homes. The 1st case study was EcoManor, the 1st Gold LEED certified home in the US, located in Atlanta, GA. The Seydels, who own ECO Manor, are environmentalists and wanted the ability to study their home after construction and chose to provide the building community with valuable data that could be analyzed. The home has many great features, including the ability to see how energy was being made and used. The home was also tested for harmful toxins. Other case study homes include The OLM Home at Serenbe in GA, The Natural house designed by HRH Prince Charles located at the British Research Establishment in London, and the Fullerton ABC 3.0 Home (Affordable, Buildable, Certifiable) in CA.

GHB: Is it possible to avoid toxins during the construction process? If not, what can be done to lower the amount present?

VP: The “toxic cocktail” is inevitable during the building process, often undetectable. We must first understand where toxins are present and how they off gas. Education is key. WWYW teaches it is not enough to have declarations of what is in every building product. It is not enough to have third party testing of building and furniture materials and is it not enough to have balanced ventilation throughout the house. Has the quest to reduce energy consumption inadvertently created the tight box syndrome? How do we reduce toxins in the interior environment and give them a way to escape?

GHB: Who holds the accountability in regards to toxins—the builder, homeowner, or is no one at blame?

VP: The builder should not be solely liable for all toxins present during or after the building and design process. The responsibility lies with the team. Each trade that is involved with the building, design, specification, and installation process, as well as the consumer is held responsible. Following WWYW guidelines that include proper ventilation, water purification, vetting of all products and off-gassing procedures will result in healthier home environments.

The Wellness Within Your Walls team of experts include scientists, engineers, builders, architects, building inspectors, interior designers, specifiers, manufactures, residential marketing specialists, educators, and the consumer. WWYW has been accepted by universities internationally. In addition WWYW has ambassadors located around the globe, helping promote health and wellness in the interior environment. 

 

To learn more about WWYW, visit

www.wellnesswithinyourwalls.com