Bau-Biologie: The Holistic Approach to Natural Building

By Lou Levy

After World War II, Germany was left to rebuild countless structures leveled or ruined by the fighting. Unfortunately, many of the new homes and commercial structures were built out of cement block and other unnatural materials, without proper design, drainage and ventilation. Together, these building techniques created very unhealthy interior environments for the residents of these homes and buildings.

In the late 1960s, German professor Anton Schneider, PhD, began researching how a building’s environment affects the health of its residents. In 1983, Schneider founded the Institute of Building Biology & Ecology Neubeuern (IBN), devoted to extensive study and scientific research on the subject. The IBN formulated the concept of building biology, or Bau-Biologie—the treatment of the ecology of a home or structure.

Bau-Biologie incorporates specific techniques in the building of a house or addition, treating the structure as though it were another skin. These methods aim for a design that is in harmony with nature. They consider how the building site offers beneficial exposure to the sun as well as protection from the elements; they seek to ensure proper drainage and avoid harmful geomagnetic energies under common-use and sleeping areas.

In Bau-Biologie, building methods and materials are environmentally low-impact and sustainable. On the structure’s exterior, this translates to an all-natural wall and roof system that functions as both a filter and a shell. The exterior is air-tight, but it also has the ability to absorb and filter excess moisture and toxins, allowing them to pass through without any condensation points.

The structure’s interior offers a harmonic environment, with plenty of natural lighting, good ventilation, radiant heat for comfortable air and surface temperatures, and mitigation of noise and electromagnetic energies. Materials and finishes are eco-friendly; unlike many commonly used building products, they do not outgas toxins or radioactivity.

The techniques of Bau-Biologie can be applied as individual design elements or as a comprehensive design system. Whether these techniques are adapted to a remodel, a building addition or an entire house, the goal is the same: to create a living environment that will re-energize and sustain you.

Lou Levy Construction is a design/build firm specializing in custom alterations, renovations and architectural additions and building, maintaining a 95 percent dust-free environment during construction. It also specializes in green and nontoxic applications, passive and active solar installations and retrofits, and the techniques of Bau-Biologie. For more information about Bau-Biologie or other natural building techniques, contact Lou Levy Construction at 845.225.7377 or LouLevyConstruction.com.

Eco-Friendly Shopping for Buildings, Babies, and Beyond in Scarsdale

Green Design Expo in Scarsdale

Just in time for spring and all that’s green, there’s a new space in Scarsdale that’s a one-stop shop for eco-friendly construction, design and lifestyle products, as well as an educational venue for professionals and the community. Green Design Expo (GDE) quietly opened on February 21, but it will hold its grand opening at 4 p.m. April 28, with a colorful rainbow theme and lots of student involvement.

GDE offers a wide variety of green products for home, school and office, like non-toxic, 100-percent recycled toys, BPA-free lunch boxes and water bottles, 100-percent recycled and recyclable folders and binders, biodegradable kitchenware, LED flame-less candles, and energy-efficient light bulbs. Building projects can be “greened” with Solatubes, PV solar systems, cork, Marmoleum, bamboo and responsibly harvested floors, as well as eco-friendly carpets, rugs and furniture, wall coverings, tiles, hardware, ceilings, plumbing and fixtures, and even a green roof or garden.

GDE’s owner and founder, Eva Finkelstein, is promoting community involvement by offering work/study programs with area schools. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will involve students from several school districts in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland Counties, including Scarsdale, Greenburgh, Ardsley, Yonkers, Bronxville, Bedford, Brewster, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Mamaroneck. “It’s a call to action-based, hands-on learning for all ages,” Finkelstein says.

Green Design Expo, located at 640 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, NY, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Contact the store at 914.902.5305, or visit it online at GreenDesignExpo.net.

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