We’re Going Green!

Kids, Cottages, and the Environment

The construction and design of the Cottages for Kids can be seen as a microcosm of the building industry, where the high visibility of the Cottages offers an incredible opportunity to promote designs, methods, and products that are healthier for children and the environment. Homes and cottages should be durable, use less energy and water, respect local conditions, and be constructed with materials that are less-toxic, renewable, and locally-produced.

Why is there such concern about children and their environment? Children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults based on their body weight. They also spend more time closer to sources of contamination, as they often crawl on the ground and floors that could contain pesticides, cleaners, and other contaminants. As part of the curious, exploring nature of children they frequently touch and feel objects around them and then place hands and fingers into their mouths, potentially introducing harmful materials directly into their bodies.

Biological systems like the immune system are still developing in children and are not able to process contaminants as well as the body of an adult, further increasing the effects of exposure. All of this combined means that children are far more susceptible to contaminants than are adults, and their special needs must be considered as we endeavor to create a world that is healthier for all.

While there are many, some familiar examples of harmful exposures to children include the lead-based paints sometimes found in older buildings, and high mercury levels that contaminate certain fish species.

Lead has been banned in paints since 1978. Safer paints continue to hit the market as many now use a base of water rather than petroleum, contain fewer toxic chemicals, and use pigments from natural sources rather than synthetic ones.

Certain fish species in northwest Florida carry health advisories for children and women of child-bearing age warning against excessive consumption due to potentially-harmful mercury levels in the fish. Most of the mercury contamination in the environment is believed to come from coal-fired power plants, which provide the vast majority of our area’s electricity.

These power plants also emit pollutants that can create or worsen respiratory problems like asthma, where children are once again particularly susceptible. So building new homes and renovating existing ones so that they use less electricity can have a direct benefit for children’s health by reducing the amount of coal burned to make electricity.

The connection between children’s health and the environment is strong and eternal. By encouraging the design and construction of cottages that are safe and healthy for children, we hope to encourage the same practices in the creation of more sustainable homes, buildings, and neighborhoods in the communities we serve.

 

Last Updated: August 27th, 2013 |

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