In this episode, released on June 29, 2021, we welcome Stephen Collette who is a widely-respected Building Biologist. As Stephen shares in this podcast, his role is to identify environmental stressors and toxicants that exist within a building and provide practical suggestions on how to improve the indoor environment.
The Healthier Tech Podcast is the show bringing you a practical solutions-based approach to understanding how best to live in balance with our increasing reliance on tech.
The show from Shield Your Body brings you expert voices that clearly explain the science that matters to you, and the usable tips that you can use to live healthier, while defending against the health risks of modern day technologies.
In this episode we welcome Stephen Collette who is a widely-respected Building Biologist. As Stephen shares in this podcast, his role is to identify environmental stressors and toxicants that exist within a building and provide practical suggestions on how to improve the indoor environment.
During the show Stephen shares how he came to be involved in the sector, as a Building Biologist, when his wife and new born child got very sick, from what turned out to be mold. It was only through a trip away from the home – which resulted in the symptoms subsiding – that made Stephen suspect that their property might inadvertently be the root cause of the health problems. Through the extensive research and knowledge that he built up, on various subjects related to home-based wellbeing issues, he realised that by sharing his information on what he needed to know to protect his own family he could also make sure others didn’t go through the same situation as his loved ones.
In this episode you will hear:
- What Stephen does as a Building Biologist
- The power of developing a greater understanding of our homes and our health
- How buildings work as part of our bodies and how they should be maintained
- How to get deeper sleep and making the bedroom as healthy as possible
- How EMF in the home affects our health
For more information on the subject covered today head to https://www.shieldyourbody.com/ for resources, in-depth articles, free tips and PDF guides to learn all about EMF, health and protection.
For more information about Stephen and his work, please visit https://yourhealthyhouse.ca/
R Blank 0:01
Hello, everyone, I’m R Blank and welcome to another episode of the healthier tech podcast podcast about a healthier approach to living alongside modern technology. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Steven Collette to the podcast. Steven is a building biologist and a certified EMF radiation specialist who practices in Ontario, Canada through his company, your healthy house.ca.
Stephen Collette 0:20
If we can make that healing space sleep is so helpful, right? It’s that our regenerative phase and so by making the bedroom as healthy as possible, that gives you the best bang for your buck.
R Blank 0:35
I was introduced to Stephen through the building biology Institute, I was actually introduced to the building biology Institute by Cathy cook, who were also interviewing this season on the podcast. And when I first learned about the building biology Institute, I reached out to them to learn more about them and their mission. Because from what Kathy had told me, it sounded really amazing and in my opinion, very important because we spend so much time in our buildings, especially during the COVID lockdowns and pandemic. So it’s obvious that our building influences our health in really significant ways. I mean, just think how much better you feel after you clean up your living room, then realize all the other components of your home and how each one affects you. Your health, your mood, your productivity, your entire life. So when I was planning this podcast season, I knew I needed to have an episode about building biology. So I contacted the BVI and they said, you have to talk to Stephen. And when I reached out to him, he couldn’t have been nicer. I mean, of course, he’s Canadian. But even still, for Canadian, the dude is super nice. Before we begin a brief word, this podcast is brought to you by my company shield your body, where it is our mission to help make technology safer for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Inspired by the life’s work of my father, Dr. Martin blank, one of the world’s leading EMF scientists, I founded shield your body in 2012 when we provide a ton of great and free resources for you to learn all about EMF radiation, like articles, ebooks, webinars, videos, and this podcast. And we also have a world class catalog of Laboratory Tested EMF and 5g protection products from our phone pouch and laptop pad all the way up to our bed canopy. All of our shielding products are Laboratory Tested and include a lifetime warranty. Learn more about our products while we have hundreds of 1000s of satisfied customers around the world at shield your body.com that shield your body all one word.com and use promo code pod to save 15% on your first order. with free shipping throughout North America and Europe. I’m really looking forward to getting to know more about building biology in the building biology Institute from Stephen. So let’s get started. Well, now it’s time to welcome Steven Collette to the podcast. Stephen is a certified building biologist and the owner of your healthy house.ca. And rather than go into more detail, I’m just gonna get started. Steven, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in architecture and building biology?
Stephen Collette 2:59
Yeah, thanks are First off, thanks for having me here. I really do appreciate the opportunity. And yeah, I’m excited about the conversation ahead for sure. I came to building biology through a strange path, I guess I used to build straw bale homes. So I was a hippie had long hair wore my Birkenstocks to the job site, the whole thing. And I was building healthy natural homes, and I thought I knew everything. And my wife and I and our brand new baby were actually we were living in 100 year old home. And my wife and our baby got sick from what turned out to be mold. My wife had headaches every day, my daughter had really wicked zema. And we went away for 10 days, and they both got better. And we came back and and my wife got a headache as soon as we came in the house. And I realized I actually didn’t know anything about healthy and I couldn’t even protect my own family. So we moved out of there quickly. And I came across building biology and looking at creating healthy buildings. And I realized that’s that’s what I needed to know, to protect my own family and to make sure others didn’t go through what I did.
R Blank 4:17
We talked to a lot of people here at sci fi who have similar reactions to their living environment. Generally when they come to us, it’s about it’s about EMF, but but your experience was about a different toxic pollutant. And that’s that’s really why I’m really glad to have you on the podcast because I think it’s it’s really important to make people more aware of the concept of building biology. A lot of people don’t realize that it is a discipline that there is an institute supporting it. Could you tell us a little bit more about what building biology really is?
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Stephen Collette 4:53
Yeah, well, building biology is a start it’s a German school of thought and it and it started post World War Two To now Germany and most of the European countries have incredible building history, right? We that’s why we go to Europe to see, you know, 400 800, you know, 1000 year old buildings. And what happened after post World War Two with all the terrible destruction is they had to build a lot of housing quickly. And they built it quickly and poorly not using, you know, normal normal building practices at the time. And unfortunately, more like we build in North America. But what happened is, by the 1960s, doctors were associating illness with these neighborhoods. And that’s when they did something very German, like was trying to figure it out. So they pulled architects and engineers and city planners and public health people and medical professionals, they pulled everybody together, and they’re like, Look, this sucks, we have to do something. And so out of that came changes to the German building code and how they build a whole raft of public health initiatives. And one of them wants to create an institute to look at healthy housing. And that’s where the term that the original term and I’m gonna butcher it, because I’m not German is bow biology, which is building bio is building in biology. And it’s building biology and ecology, and it looks at the built environment and how it interacts and impacts occupant and environmental health. And so one of those graduates, Helmut z, hey came to North America, he’s an architect and set up shop and started a North American Institute 30, year over 30 years ago, and Helmut founded the North American version of the called the building biology Institute. So, yeah, that’s kind of the the old history of the Institute for sure.
R Blank 6:46
Yeah. One thing, when people think about health, they they all, you know, they tend to focus on Oh, am I eating the right things? Am I exercising enough? And what I, what I find really, sort of paradigm shifting about the BBI is, is the conception of how much our environment impacts our health. And, and of course, because we also spend so much of our days where we live, and these days, even more than the normal, then how how our homes are built, and how they are maintained. The impact that can have on our health, no matter what else, you know, we could be exercising two hours a day eating, you know, salads and fruit and just a little bit of meat and, you know it but but it’s where we live, that, that that can really impact. I mean, our health at a really deep level. Right? I mean, can you give me some some insight into that?
Stephen Collette 7:42
Yeah, for sure. You know, when the, when they started this, you know, back in Germany, they came up with principles, concepts, we don’t have points, we don’t have certifications, we don’t have checkboxes, but just principles of how to create a healthy environment. And there’s 25 of those principles. And they range from, you know, building materials to electromagnetic radiation to pollution to water quality. And the idea is that, yeah, our buildings are our third skin. So when we think about, you know, our bodies and what we’re willing to put on and put in our bodies, that’s really important. And then the clothes and the chemicals, like on us cleaning products, personal care products. But our third skin is our building. And, and really, when we sort of look at it from a 10,000 feet, we live in a fishbowl, right? We all you know, we’ve all had fish at some point, as patson and the idea is that if the water gets too dirty, the fish dies. If there’s not enough fresh air provided to the fish tank, the fish die. If you put too much chlorinated water in there, the fish die. And when we really think about the fact that more fish you know, that analogy really, like we put all that effort into it, and yet we think we don’t really assess what we’re doing and and you know, just like myself just like a lot of my clients just like you know a lot of your clients is people don’t come to us until we’ve had something major and that’s you know, the same thing about diet. But yeah, yeah, the triple cheeseburger is awesome until you have your first you know, heart attack. It oftentimes takes takes a major event, a turning point, a health scare, to make us really sit back and assess COVID has changed that that now we’re all stuck with these four walls looking at them and, and yeah, we spend a lot of time in our homes. 95% and it was a great recent book but Healthy buildings and they were like, we’re actually an indoor species. And again, to think about humanity as an indoor species, like your cat, like your jubile that we can’t actually survive outside. And we spend so much time inside, and especially after this pandemic, that as an indoor species, we need to really take care of our indoor environment.
R Blank 10:31
That’s really yeah, that that’s really insightful. I know, that there’s so you mentioned these these principles underlying the the BBI. There’s there’s also certain kinds of classes of exposures. Am I right? That that these pollutants or these toxins fall into? Is that is that correct?
Stephen Collette 10:50
Yeah, yeah, basically, when we’re breaking down the environmental exposures for for homeowners, for families, for renters, for people living inside, they’re going to be broken down into biologicals, which would be, you know, molds, bacteria, and of course, we all currently are fully versed in viruses, then there’s going to be chemicals, when that could be cleaning products, personal care products that could be coming from the building materials, or the items you bring into the home, particulate dust, we all have dust, because if we have kids or pets, or if you do crazy things like open the doors and windows, you’re going to get dust coming in and just building a house, you’re going to have dust. And then the fourth one is the electromagnetic radiation. And that can be low frequencies from the wires, and the wiring within the home. And that can be high frequencies such as cell phones, Wi Fi, you know, smart meters, and all that sort of stuff. So those four biologicals, chemicals, particulates and EMR are really where everything’s going to fall into one or more of those categories together.
R Blank 12:03
And the electromagnetic component of the four that you mentioned, am I correct in understanding that sort of come a bit later than the original sets of principles?
Stephen Collette 12:15
Yeah, even in the original building biology principles, there was a basic understanding that electromagnetics does have an impact on the on the human body. Obviously, 3040 years ago, we weren’t exposed to as much as we are today. And so that knowledge and science is growing, as the technology is growing, for sure. But yeah, to your point, it wasn’t because of its lack of ubiquitous pneus we are seeing it becoming more and more important, for sure. As it becomes more sorry, as it becomes more, you know, baked into our everyday lives,
R Blank 13:00
right? Yeah. And I think you’d mentioned to me that interest in the electromagnetic humbuckers at the BBI. At the building biology Institute. The electromagnetic specialization is sort of a standalone program. Am I am I correct?
Stephen Collette 13:18
Yeah, that’s right. So you can take various certifications, and become a certified consultant, a building biologist, and one of those specializations is the electromagnetic radiation specialist. And that stream certification stream has exploded in the last 10 years, for sure. Well, the fact that we didn’t have it before, and now we have it, and it’s one of our most is really a sign of the times.
R Blank 13:50
Yeah, really. I mean, we see that to interest in in electromagnetic radiation, just come every year, grows at such a rapid pace. I mean, not quite keeping up with the rate of growth and exposures, but kind of kind of along the same lines. Now. you’d mentioned that people don’t come to people like you until they experience something major in their lives. And like you said, it makes sense to just like, you don’t necessarily re examine your diet until a significant health issue emerges. But I would imagine that people would be healthier and that they wouldn’t have to come to you. If the buildings that they lived in were constructed with these principles. from the get go. Yeah, yeah. So what’s being done to move awareness, acceptance, adoption of BBI principles into I don’t know if this is the right term, but the build phase of housing.
Stephen Collette 14:57
Yeah, so the building biology Institute has As a another certification called the BB NC which is the building biology new build consultants. So someone who may be in the building industry in the design industry some somewhere involved in the built environment industry and and want to do it right. And so the institute does offer seminars and workshops and online training to help people create their healthiest house possible following the principles and followings the Building Science of just how buildings work, how they fail, and how they impact occupant health. And by understanding the science of, you know, the concept of the built environment. You know, it’s really remarkable, like I live in a cold climate. And when we think about our homes, when the middle of winter, I could have plus 2068 Fahrenheit on on one side, and I can have minus 20, you know, minus, it’s cold in Fahrenheit. Right. And so we can have, like, our walls, for example, just go through huge variations, right, and we have wind and sun and rain and snow and all this stuff happening to the outside. And we wanted at 68, every day all all year long on the inside, and that that puts stress under the systems. And so buildings will fail because of those stresses if they’re not built, right. So understanding that science and understanding the principles of better practice is really important. And and that’s because our building codes are not best practice. Our building codes are the worst you can build without going to jail. They’re their minimum. And, and so with, you know, costs housing costs and purchase costs, like it’s expensive. And so people, you know, look at price for what do you know, what’s the cost per square foot? But what are you paying per square foot per doctor’s visits or per square foot of, you know, medic medical aids, or prescriptions or asthma attacks? Or last time at work? Or last time ever sleeping? Oh, yeah. All of those things. Exactly. And so whether it’s EMR, whether it’s chemicals, whether it’s biologicals particulates, you know, we have to think about creating healthier homes from the start. It’s just not all of us have that opportunity for new builds. But where it’s possible, we definitely want to think about that.
R Blank 17:46
So you’d mentioned interest in the electromagnetic curriculum is increasing. Are you seeing an increase in interest from real estate developers, home builders, in at least trying to understand these principles earlier in the process? Is that also growing?
Stephen Collette 18:07
Yeah, I think with the, you know, everyone’s understanding of our homes and our health being stuck here. Whether that’s from a personal level or professional level, such as you said, you know, builders and developers. Yeah, there’s a growing interest. Why? Because there’s a growing interest on the consumer market and, and builders are seeing, you know, and builders and developers are seeing that, like, yeah, post pandemic, we want healthier houses. And there’s a demand for that. And so yeah, you know, the institute’s new build consultant courses is also growing. And it’s great to see because that’s changing people on a, on a massive level, you know, looking at all of those aspects of electromagnetics. of, of air quality of healthy building materials. Yeah, it’s huge.
R Blank 18:53
At what point in the process, what is it? And I mean, it might the answer might just be the very beginning. But at what point in the process, is it optimal to involve building biologists and building biology principles?
Stephen Collette 19:07
Yeah, that can be done at any level. You know, you don’t even have to hire a building biologist. Of course, I’m biased. I do recommend it. But the building biology Institute’s website has a ton of free information for homeowners for renters, you know, the free resources, they have articles, they have videos, they have podcasts, have a whole ton of information that’ll just help you make some basic decisions, and some basic first steps and just helping you understand, you know, how to start to navigate that field. If if it’s all new to you, you know, and from there, there’s the building biology advocate. So you can be certified that or you can even just take the home study course that’s brand Recently rewritten right from the ground up, the one on one home study course covers all of these aspects. And it’s like four pages on each topic, you know, what is it? You know, what are the health concerns? Where would I find it in my home? And how could I? How can I get rid of it or reduce it in my home with pictures and amazing color graphics. So that could be something that, you know, someone who wants to, you know, do this at home and learn a little bit more enough to, you know, make a difference for their family and make better choices? Yeah, like, there’s, there’s that and all the way down to being certified yourself and going out and doing healthy home inspections. So yeah, it’s a full spectrum of information on the website for sure.
R Blank 20:46
So just to give people a better understanding something they can grasp on to what are just a couple of the differences, just as an example, a couple of the differences that you might see in a home that involves that it building biology principles in the design, versus one that that sort of skipped that step.
Stephen Collette 21:07
Hmm. Yeah. So let’s talk about carpet because it’s one of my favorites. And carpets. Lovely underfoot, right, it’s nice and warm, especially in cold climates. But carpets, can hold a lot of dust. And if you’ve ever pulled an old carpet up, you’ll know the filth underneath is pretty disgusting. Now, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, when they were doing research on air quality found that to properly clean a carpet, you have to vacuum 10 minutes per square meter, or about a minute per square foot. And that would take you approximately six days to vacuum Your house is a little insane. Now, obviously, nobody vacuums that much. And, and that was the point. And so what they showed was that that the presence of carpet holds a lot of dust. And that dust stays in there and it stays ultra fine. And ultra fine means it can get past my nose and get past my throat and get deep into my lungs. Now, young children, especially toddlers, and babies, wherever they spend all their time, write down their carpet right in the breathing zone. And so their immune systems aren’t fully developed till they’re like 12. So they’re being exposed to a lot of dust. And that dust can have chemicals and it got biologicals and pollens and cat dander, and you name it all exposed, and there’s quite a lot. So from a building biology perspective, you know, we would say vacuum more often, right? If that’s all you can afford, or if you’re renting, and then maybe consider a better vacuum, you know, maybe get a HIPAA high efficiency, particulate arrestor vacuum, so we’re capturing the smallest of the small, or maybe we’re gonna open windows while we’re vacuuming to flush all that dust out that we’re stirring up. Because your vacuums not capturing all the really small stuff. And then, you know, maybe we’re going to look at getting rid of that carpets and taking it out and replacing it with, you know, some solid surface some healthy building materials. And so from a building biology, you know, perspective, we want to think about that kind of process. And from a new build, we would say yes, solid surface healthy surfaces, more natural surfaces, making sure those solid surfaces don’t have chemicals baked into them, like polyurethanes into your hardwood floors. You know, can we just use some bees wax or linseed oils? Or, you know, some more natural solutions that that are durable?
R Blank 23:55
Yeah, yeah. And so that was a great answer. And I noticed how you snuck in there some action items for people. And I noticed that so you had three right, there was vacuum more often get a better vacuum, then rip out the carpets. And that sounded like three sort of levels of response that here’s, here’s the easiest thing. Here’s a step better, here’s really the best. And is that is that part of how you approach working with your clients?
Stephen Collette 24:25
For sure, for sure. If I come in and just start swinging, swinging for the for the fence and give you the gold standard for everything. I’m wasting my time and your money, you’re not going to be able to do everything no one is. So I need to help create a an action plan for clients to find their priorities both financially and health wise and go Okay, well, this one’s a priority. We’re going to spend the money there, you know, this one’s not the biggest priority, but we should still do something about it. And so we’re just going to do that simple. Maybe until we can afford it down the road. And that creates a stronger empowerment a stronger call to action, then it’s like, okay, we can achieve something we can. Because there’s no such thing as perfect, it doesn’t exist. But we need to, we need to always be moving in that direction. And any step towards creating a healthier space is making you healthy, right. So, you know, EMR, Wi Fi. Okay, well, you know, turn the Wi Fi off at night, put it on a power bar with a built in timer, so it’s shuts off automatically. So at least during the sleeping time, it’s off, you know, maybe that’s one solution, then, you know, because that’s going to cost you like 20 bucks, and then you could buy a safer route or one, you know, that does have Wi Fi but you can dial it down. Right? And you can you can manage the strength and intensity, you know, and that’s going to be a couple $100. But that’s going to make a big difference. And then yeah, like hardwire, right, or obviously, you know, shielding as, as you’re far more experienced, knowledgeable, you know, we can bring those into the equation to make safer places, and you know, where you put your router, all that kind of stuff. So I don’t think it’s, it shouldn’t be black and white. And because of that it’s polarizing for people. So all solutions need to be on a spectrum.
R Blank 26:25
I like that. So this, as I mentioned, at the beginning, your business is your healthy house.ca. And you were just talking about how you interact with clients. Maybe if you could tell us first a little bit more about your healthy house.ca What is it exactly that you do through this company?
Stephen Collette 26:45
Sure. Thank you. Um, so yeah, as a building biologist, I do indoor air quality consulting, I do healthy house inspections for, for people both close within, within proximity to where I live in Ontario, but also virtually, to help them learn about their house in a way that they weren’t taught. And to show them opportunities to create healthier choices and decisions, whether that be you know, in their existing home, whether they want to do renovations, new construction, but to help guide them and educate them, you know, it’s one thing to just tell them, you should do this. But if they really understand it, they can take that information internally and make better decisions. Lifelong ahead. And so educating people and helping them create healthier homes, for sure is what I do. And that can be with tools, air quality tools that can be with building science knowledge. But it always has to be educational, you know, they have to be present. I don’t do it alone. That’s a waste of their money. I think they’re missing out a lot. And yeah, just figuring out how their house works and how to improve it.
R Blank 27:54
So you met Yeah, earlier you mentioned that, generally, you see that for people to become interested in building biology something has to be going wrong in their in their lives or in their health. Could you give us a little more insight into how and why people hire you what drives them to engage your services?
Stephen Collette 28:14
Yeah, yeah. What’s interesting is the two largest demographic demographics. In my experience, are young families starting starting a family and empty nesters. And that’s because those two age brackets are willing to pay for their health, right? The the young families starting family, you know, we want to get pregnant and we are pregnant, we got a first kid coming. They’re like seriously thinking about, you know, this young miracle occurring, and wanting to give it the best start they possibly can. And that gets them you know, excited. empty nesters, same thing. They’re, you know, they’re thinking about, you know, the kids have grown, it’s just the two of us, we need to take care of our health so we can take care of that beautiful little grandchild coming. And so those two are really interested in their health, those of us in the middle, we’re typically too tired and exhausted, running to school and to camp and to dance, you know, and all this kind of stuff that, you know, it’s got it oftentimes has to be a serious problem before we like okay, we have to deal with this kind of thing. That’s been my experience. Obviously, I have lots of clients from all age brackets, but you know, those those two demographics certainly can be more engaged. And are they
R Blank 29:38
are they experiencing health problems and through research they’ve discovered That’s amazing.
Stephen Collette 29:46
Yeah, sometimes Yes. Sometimes No. Again, it depends. You know, the most of the people reaching out to me or either what was that term, low house lifestyles of health and sustainability. You know, there is a There is a group of people you know, who’s listening to your podcast, the people who are interested in, in making healthy choices, you know, they try to avoid the the large, big box and you know, supporting local and that kind of stuff. There is that demographic of course, as well. Typically the ones who are, you know, reaching out to me because something’s gone wrong, they’re not always willing to believe what I have to say, I’ve had that a lot where like, That doesn’t matter. But she may be, you know, really interested in what I have to say. And he may be a complete non believer in what I’m talking about, or could be the other way around. It’s gone both ways. But so that happens, but it’s everybody’s exposures, and history of exposure that causes them to react differently. So,
R Blank 30:50
are there certain categories of health challenges or problems that you find in in your clients? Or is it really all over the more all over the map?
Stephen Collette 31:02
Yeah, you know, being having done this for about 1516 years, I have worked with sublimely sensitive people, you know, whether that be electro sensitive people, whether that be chemically sensitive people or mold sensitive people. I had one woman react to the polyethylene screens in her sunroom facing south when the sun hit them. And there was like, it took me like hours to figure out what she was reacting to, but she was reacting to the off gassing of the screens. Remarkably, you know, minute. And, you know, could you have measured that maybe, but humanity has such super sensitive senses that we most often ignore over our lives. And when people get sick and chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, you know, even cancers, certainly on the electromagnetic side, you know, people become more sensitive and, and, and those people are the extremes. It’s not everybody, you know, some people just don’t feel well, or just like, there’s a smell, I hate the smell is something wrong in my house, because there’s a smell, and that’s okay, to who, right? We don’t want it to get to the extremes by any stretch.
R Blank 32:29
So I like that we’ve gone deep into sort of the practice of building biology and your practice of building biology. I was hoping we could take a minute and step back, and actually talk a little bit more detail about your experience with the building biology Institute itself. I, I understand you started there in in 2005. Is that right? Yeah. Yeah, that’s correct. So 16 years, you’ve been involved with the Institute for for for quite a while?
Stephen Collette 32:59
Yes, yeah, I’m really lucky when I first took the courses. Um, I was just so eager to learn. And what’s amazing about the seminars when they’re live in person, and hopefully next year, we will be going back to the live in person. But the idea of just spending five days with complete strangers from around the world who who are there for you know, on similar paths, you know, they just like I need to know like, I got a sick family member or I want to make this a business or you know, I’m sick myself or my just experience something that I just changed my life and I need to know more. Spending time with those people and the instructors just is so enriching and so engaging, that after the first seminar, I was hooked. I was like, I’m, you know, I need to know more and you know, I second seminar first one was air quality for me, the second one was electromagnetics. You know, I came home from the electromagnetics course, and kissed my wife and kissed my kid and walked over and unplugged the microwave and put it outside like me, was like Exactly. Like we’re not using this ever again. And, you know, it was those life changing, but really life affirming as well. Really great people. And so I got so much out of it that I wanted to give back. And so myself and my, my wonderful, wonderful colleague, Paula Baker Laporte, who’s one of the most brilliant architects and humans I know. She designed healthy homes eco Nash, she wrote the seminal book prescriptions for a healthy house, which everyone should buy. I think it’s it’s the best book on healthy on building biology and healthy living for new construction. Paul and I both, you know, Matt and I had a vision about creating a content for the, for the new course for the, to create the the new build consultant certification. And it’s been a dream teaching with Paula and and you know, beyond that I’ve taught the air quality class and and teaching her the Building Science then we started teaching the building science class because we really wanted to get that into people’s heads about how important that built environment piece was baked into the principles. And yeah, I’m really grateful that I’m one of the instructors, I love the Institute. There’s some great, you know, staff, amazing staff and board members are fantastic. And their legion of volunteers is unwavering. And I’ve just always had really, really deeply positive and personal experiences with the Institute. And I’m just, I’m just honored to be able to give it back for sure.
R Blank 35:55
That’s really nice. What, and you’re obviously painting a picture of a pretty wonderful organization that’s also quite dynamic. But another part of the picture that I’m getting from you is that it’s it’s continually evolving, that that there’s new subject matter that’s that’s being adapted into the curriculum, is that right? This is not a static, it’s not a static discipline,
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Stephen Collette 36:19
much to my wife’s chagrin, you know, what I’m working on, I’m just updating again. Yeah, like the building biology Institute, and the seminars are based on solid science. You know, this isn’t tinfoil hat wearing this isn’t fear mongering. This is like what is the best science telling us about these environmental exposures. And, you know, often there’s this huge separation between academia, and real life, there’s these amazing research they’ve done that papers are put out and knowledge is gained. But getting that into the hands and minds of the homeowners and renters is really hard. Not everyone’s a nerd, like me reading all this stuff. And so all the instructors across all the, all the courses are always updating their information and the content and links to research and links to articles that you know, can help create a broader foundational knowledge for people who becomes billing biology, environmental consultants, or EMRs. Or BBN sees so that they know that what they’re talking about that there’s science behind it, and here’s the research. And it’s really important, because, you know, certainly with EMR, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. And that was the case through, you know, through mold through chemical sensitivities, it was a lot of misinformation and disinformation as well. And so the building biology Institute is is rock solid foundation built built on science, and we work with environmental doctors, we’ve been very lucky. Both staff instructors, and as consultants were at the environmental health conferences, speaking, you know, the environmental doctors are at our conferences speaking, we’re sharing information. And that has to happen, because with the Environmental Medicine, we’re fighting the same fight and, and what we know and what they know is really important to people understand how to make people healthy, because that’s the ultimate goal.
R Blank 38:31
So the I really liked the bringing academia to real life, that’s something here. That’s why we try really hard to do to make the importance of science understandable to people. I’m wondering if you might have any insight into some of the directions that the BBI is moving now?
Stephen Collette 38:53
Well, I know there’s always, you know, interest and the directions itself is keeping the content up to date. More social media, I think, is really important, because people are digesting information differently, right? They’re not reading it in newspapers, you know, we’re digesting it digitally. And so I know the social media aspect of the building biology Institute, just to help to get people something in their hands that they can just quickly read and quickly on Oh, wow, I didn’t know but I’d like to learn more about that. You know, and get those kinds of resources out there to a broader audience, I think is really important. And that’s always been the message that that mission piece is to educate. It’s not about everyone having to be bums in seats, taking a seminar. It’s the free information on the website and and getting that free information out to everybody, anyone who wants it.
R Blank 39:51
So, coming back a little bit to the actual practice of building biology. earlier on, we spent some time talking about what can be done at the build phase. But a lot of people are are renters and are obviously a bit more limited in terms of, of what it is they they can achieve. But I understand that one of the principles of building biology and one of the principles of the way that you practice it is that everyone can make a difference. Is that right? So renters have options too.
Stephen Collette 40:23
Yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. You want to think about everything that you’re bringing into your home and I like to tell people to just think about your front door is the gate right? Is the Guardian is the fortress, you know, what are you bringing into your house, whether that’s food and you’re eating it? You know, is it healthy for you, I’m cleaning products, if you’re not willing to eat your cleaning products, you shouldn’t be using them because you are inhaling, ingesting absorbing those cleaning products. And they’re not, you know, if there’s a smell to them, if they’re a there’s no lemon in it, there’s no spring mountainair inside that can I can guarantee. So we need to we need to be those gatekeepers and thinking about more natural materials, more natural clothing, more natural finishes, less less chemicals, less pesticides, less flame retardants. And then how do we how do we minimize our digital life? How can we lower those exposures? You know, turning the phones off, please turn them off, turn the router off, turn, you know, turn all the digital appliances off all that stuff and, and just try to think about you know, those and yeah, that’s renters can make a huge difference in their in in their home. Can they fix everything? No, obviously not. But, um,
R Blank 41:55
but there is no beta January, as you were saying, No. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So I know that one of the principles of the building biology Institute, is that the bedroom is the most important place to start is,
Stephen Collette 42:14
am I right? with that? That has always been the place for sure. And that’s because that’s where our bodies are healing themselves from all the stupidity that we put it through during the day. And so, if we can make that healing space, sleep is so healthful, right? It’s that our regenerative phase and so by making the bedroom as healthy as possible, that gives you the best bang for your buck. Because you’re getting deeper sleep, you’re getting more REM, you’re getting more, you know, all the actions going on inside the body that are healing and rebuilding and making you you know, bigger, stronger, faster, smarter. I’m really important. So focusing on the bedroom because sometimes it can be overwhelming, right? Whether you’re renting or new, like oh my goodness, where do we start? Yeah, start in the bedrooms. Get the clutter out, get the dust out, get the electronics out. Keep it clean keep it simple.
R Blank 43:15
That’s good. So yeah, cuz i like i like giving my listeners some some tangible actionable to do’s and it sounds like you just you just named a couple of them for the bedroom in the bedroom being the most important place to start could could just to just to emphasize what those are again so that you know three things that anyone can do in their bedroom to improve the quality of their bedroom.
Stephen Collette 43:39
Get rid of all the electronics for sure. Get rid of the clutter. If you can’t find horizontal surfaces, that causes you stress like if the place is filthy, it causes you physical and emotional stress. So clean the room, hang stuff up, put stuff away. And then a deep clean right clean under the bed under the bed is a filthiest place because nobody cleans under their bed, vacuum, wipe mop, whatever. clean it out, get the dust out of there, air it out. I tell people your bed is is really the healthy. The best place to start. You know we our pillows, right? We sweat. When we look at the bed itself, when we think about it, we sweat up to a pint a night, which is a huge amount. And so dust mites love all that moisture and they love all their skin cells. And so cleaning the bed out, airing the bed out first thing in the morning, right Pull the sheets back, open the windows open and get them air movement, dry that bed out super helpful. And that doesn’t cost anything. And that’s reducing an allergen load, you know, and so keeping the bedroom really clean, really, you know, minimalistic, will definitely make it healthier.
R Blank 44:56
Thank you. So if I were I’m just a regular person. So maybe someone listening to this podcast? I hope you are. I’m actually just on the home of hosting the podcast, but someone listening to our podcast? What would they find when they went to building biology? institute.org? Are there resources for just regular people there? Or is that really more for the experts such as yourself?
Stephen Collette 45:25
No, no, for sure. The building biology institute.org has a ton of free information for homeowners videos to watch, which are really helpful, both like kind of just skimming the surface and diving in deep. There’s some one page fact sheets. And that’s a great place to start, you want to know something about cleaning or about kitchen or about construction, one page Fact Sheet free download, or you can just read it online, it’s right there for you. These are really great. You know, starting points, if you want to learn more, yeah, you could buy the 15 pager if you want to just dive in a little deep just on that one topic, if that’s what you’re really interested in, but you don’t have to the podcasts with Ron and Lisa bears great, great fun introduction as well. So those kind of pieces and just all that information is there for free. And, and that’s where you should start. Because they’re not sure they’d love you to take the Institute, we’d like you to become certified in that. But the educational piece is broad and wide. Get on the Facebook, you know, the Instagram, whatever and, and just start learning from a trusted source of information about what’s going on and the easy steps to make your home healthier.
R Blank 46:47
That’s great. So everyone should go check out the building biology website, and that’s building biology institute.org. And that’ll also be in the show notes. And Steven, I can’t really I can’t thank you enough for coming and sharing information about building biology with, with our listeners, it’s such an important subject. It’s such an important Institute. And I really appreciate you taking the time, everyone can learn more about Steven Collette and his services at your healthy house.ca. And that’ll also be in the show notes. And yeah, Steven, thank you so much for coming to share your your expertise. Our it’s been a real pleasure, and it’s always fun talking to you. I’m grateful for the opportunity. Well, what a conversation. As always, I’m joined by my right hand lady and Operations Manager at shield your body. Stephanie, Stephanie, I know that you actually live in an older home. So I’m sure that you resonated with that conversation. What did you think?
Stephanie Warner 47:38
So yes, I do live in an older home. And I could sit down and chat with Mr. Colette, for days. So I live here in Vermont, and the temperatures fluctuate to extremes. And my house is is about 100 years old. And it’s I love the property I fell in love with the the old myths of it. But in you know, living in an older home and be coming more and more aware of health issues, of course, I’m a little concerned about, you know, whether it’s it’s actually bad for my health because it, you know, wasn’t built to certain codes. Um, so but but of course, you know, listening to Mr. Colette, I did realize that even our current building codes are not that great. But I do worry about how it was built and whether it is you know, affecting my health in a negative way. So, you know, when he said we live in a fishbowl, I have to say, I started to get really paranoid. And you know, it’s like, honestly, I find the thought of making an older home safer in the way that I’ve learned in you know, from this interview, really daunting, and that’s why I love this interview so much because Mr. cola gave me and our listeners who perhaps live in older homes, action items, he pointed us to free resources on the bbi.org. And most importantly, he gave us some perspective. So when he said nothing is perfect and, and to strive for that it’s pretty much silly, that and that any step to create a healthier space is making you more healthy. I exhaled in just a sigh of relief, I felt, you know, a little more hope and empowered to start making some of the changes he recommended. Because, you know, up until that point, the more I learned about, you know, building biology, the more I felt, you know, overwhelmed to paralysis, and that oh my god, everything that I need to do is going to cost so much and I, you know, have to rip this house down and all of these things, but really, that’s not true. And the way he framed the conversation and the action items even is is completely doable, and it just made me feel really in spired to take some action and empowered and less daunted.
R Blank 50:06
Yeah, no, I like that. I like that, that that comment. And it actually, that’s actually the first item I noted on my the top three things I got out of this interview, where he describes building biology or his approach to building biology as a spectrum of possibilities that there is no perfect building biology. And the goal isn’t perfection, the goal is improvement. And I like that I like the way that you explained your reaction to that, you know, coming to it from such a personal perspective, because this is something I tried to communicate a lot when it comes to EMF in particular, that the goal isn’t perfection. In fact, eliminating EMF exposure completely isn’t even possible in almost anywhere in the world today. And the goal is improvement, the goal is taking steps to reduce your exposure. So it sounds like we agree on that being probably the at least from we, from our perspective, the most the most significant point that he covered, I’d say the second one that I got out of it, is I actually enjoyed hearing some of the history of the building biology Institute. Yes. And and how much it’s grown since Stephen got involved at the turn of the century.
Stephanie Warner 51:14
Yeah, no, I, I really enjoyed hearing about the history of how the building biology Institute started. And, you know, I was fascinated that first of all, like, the concept started in Germany, which, you know, I guess, you know, I just, it makes sense, I guess I never really thought about it. And the, the, you know, I never actually thought about the history of the architecture there. And then the impact of World War Two, on, you know, their, their need to build homes quickly. So that whole, like, that whole history was really intriguing. And, you know, just just another thing I just hadn’t really thought about, and from this from, from, from that devastation and needing to build these homes, you know, eventually the building, you know, these building codes and standards building in ecology became a, an occupation. And, you know, I found that really super interesting, and then how it, you know, merged over morphed over to North America.
R Blank 52:21
Yeah, and, and also just how much it’s grown in the past, whatever, 1520 years, and it makes sense. I mean, you see an increased focus on certain topics like wellness, and healthy living, and just awareness of how our environments impact us. But it’s nice to see that, you know, because the building biology Institute takes a very, I would say rigorous academic and scientific approach to these things. It’s not, it’s not just checking out something on the internet and, you know, throwing potpourri in a room. It’s, it’s, it’s like a real discipline, and seeing that there is a growing interest in that it gives me hope, I really like that. And then the third point that I took out of this, is I really appreciate Stephens focus on not scaring people. That’s, yeah, that’s a big priority of mine, as well. As you know, Stephanie, shield your body. Because, you know, when people just start to become aware of emf as a health risk, a lot of them can become sort of terrified and panicked. And that’s just not a useful perspective. It doesn’t, it doesn’t help you achieve anything that you couldn’t also achieve by staying calmer. And in fact, you’re in a better position to take a more effective approach to remediating the issues that when when you’re not scared, being scared is not a perspective from which to take action. It’s not optimal. And so when it comes to issues of health, beyond EMF, you know, especially the ones that people aren’t already aware of, that they’re just learning about, it is so easy to get scared, and it’s easy to scare them. And it’s also really important not to so I felt, you know, personally that I really jive with Steven on that point.
Stephanie Warner 54:15
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely. And, and there’s another thing that he talked about kind of towards the end of the interview, that I thought was really, really important as something that we struggle with from time to time. And that’s why by SYV, and it’s something that you’re actually very good at. So the the quote I’m calling from Mr. quotable is, often there’s a huge separation between academia and real life. Often there’s a huge separation between academia and real life and what he’s talking about. And this is, as I said, something that we deal with XYZ is explaining the science in a way that allows anyone to understand it because here’s the thing, if you’re talking to somebody about eating EMF and you make them feel stupid, the message is lost. And I love how he’s, you know, how I love that quote because he’s talking about you know, part of the job part of the evolution of building biology Institute and all of these different topics and new disciplines is is taking is you know taking that taking the the hard science and then making it actionable and understandable for for everyday people. And I really appreciated that because as I said, that’s something that we we have to do with XYZ and it’s something are that you’re really, really good at taking, taking the complicated and making it easy, more accessible and easy to understand.
R Blank 55:46
Yeah, so maybe that’s part of why I like that interview so much because I just agree with his approach. Yeah. So so much. So again, Stephens website is your healthy house.ca. And you can also learn more about the building biology Institute at building biology institute.org and both links are in the show notes. If you like this show and want to hear more, please remember to subscribe to this podcast, the healthier tech podcast available on all major podcasting platforms. If you have a moment please also leave a review reviews are critical to help more people find this podcast and learn about the important and undercover topics that we cover. And you can also learn more and sign up for our mailing list to get notified when we have new interviews, webinars, ebooks and sales at shield your body calm that shield your body all one word calm. You can also just click that link in the show notes. Until next time, I’m R Blank and I want to thank you so much for tuning into the healthier tech podcast and always remember to shield your body