Taking a Holistic Approach to Building

Implementing thoughtful design for a healthy and holistic community

By JILLIAN PRITCHARD COOKE

Taking a holistic approach to the building process has become a new way of achieving a successful, healthy, and sustainable community design. When building a single family or multifamily community, it is essential to look beyond building science. Assembling a team of experts that support the holistic approach ensures that a common pathway is realized and will result in effective planning and execution. Understanding how building structures relate to one another will yield a thoughtfully designed environment that speaks to connectivity. Considering all the buildings within the development and the impact each building will have on the surrounding area can be an asset or liability.

When addressing all the parts of a new or existing community, it is essential to be aware of all the resources available through the local municipality. Often a team member may have global experiences and innovative solutions not yet integrated into the U.S. housing market. Building a demonstration home can create an opportunity for the builder/developer to explore these new innovative solutions, as well as new products that manufacturers have developed, which can be tested in a controlled environment. Working with agricultural consultants can provide innovative results including learning gardens and vertical food sources.

Discussing alternate energy resources should be addressed with energy consultants during the planning stage. Understanding local and national incentives and creating a pathway to realize the financial benefits is vital. Having consultants that have an understanding of state regulations can yield positive outcomes, especially since legislation changes rapidly.

Considering the culture, diversity, and financial infrastructure during the planning stages of the surrounding area will help ensure a more cohesively designed community. Creating pathways that address economic growth, sustainability, resiliency, and positive health outcomes is essential. Providing opportunities for vocational training within the community with local trade organizations on-site helps create job opportunities and supports social connectivity. Conducting on-the-job health and wellness training with local technical colleges through internships can also help create a sustainable labor force. It is a known fact that if a middle school student is involved in workforce training, they are less likely to join a gang or get involved with drugs and alcohol.

Having a home innovation technician on the team is also important. Networking all the systems within the home can positively impact the health of the homeowner and their experience. Home innovation technology can help support the homeowner’s behavioral strategies, providing whole-house safety, better comfort, monitored ventilation, air and water purification, light exposures, toxin detection, and potential maintenance issues. A holistic community will not put the latest innovation in technology over the actual wants and needs of the occupant.

Engaging a behavioral strategies expert can impact the new homeowner’s health outcomes in a positive way. Employing a home maintenance expert helps the homeowner implement behavioral strategies, which can be achieved by educating the homeowner. If the homeowner understands that they play a significant role in achieving health and wellness in the home, their behavioral strategies can result in healthier outcomes.

Setting the community apart from the competition will require a marketing consultant savvy in health and wellness strategies; maintaining a healthy community status ensures a legacy of health far beyond “sell out” status. The longevity and legacy of the community should be addressed during the planning stages.

Jillian Pritchard Cookeis the founder of Wellness Within Your Walls, which provides affordable, accountable, achievable solutions to beautiful, non-toxic interior environments. To learn more about WWYW, visit www.wellnesswithinyourwalls.com