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Building Environment and Health (Healthy Buildings II)

Course CodeBSS300
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Understand the significance of your surroundings - learn to evaluate and manage building environments.

Develop your knowledge of building biology and take your understanding of health and well-being to another level.

Have you heard of 'sick building syndrome'?  This is a label applied to buildings where incidents of sickness and other conditions seem to be more prevalent than in other buildings. Such symptoms include - upper respiratory tract infections, headaches, lethargy, runny noses, sore eyes, dry or irritated throats, and dry skin.

Many of these symptoms can be prevented or reduced by taking some care and evaluating the surroundings that people live and work in. From their immediate surroundings - such as lighting, ventilation, chemicals used in the buildings - to the surroundings of the building. External features, for example, can be used to manage temperatures and air quality.

  • Develop your skills and knowledge to be able to evaluate and assess how the internal and external environment of a building can be improved.
  • Learn how the surroundings of a building can affect health.
  • Understand more about chemicals in every day use and how these can affect health.
  • Develop your knowledge to enable you to select interior furnishings, finishes, paints etc. which will contribute to a healthier internal environment.
  • Develop your knowledge to enable you to plan management systems for a better interior environment - assessing elements such as air quality, temperature control, cleaning, acoustics, light, colour and more.
  • Learn to change things around a home or workplace, to make it more sympathetic to human well being.
  • Apply practical knowledge from your studies in your work - in areas such as building renovation, consultancy, or building management.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Environmental Impacts On Buildings
    • Scope, nature and principles of building biology
    • Environmental impacts on buildings
    • Climate, building location, radon, air quality, allergies, temperature, humidity, light, EMR
    • Creation of electric fields​
    • Chemicals
    • Air pollutants
    • Cleaning chemicals
    • Chemical breakdowns
    • Leakages and spills
    • Pesticides - household, industrial, agricultural
    • Solid Waste pollutants
    • Persistent organic pollutants (POP's)
    • Formaldehydes
    • Heavy metals
    • Ammonia
    • Resins
    • Where different chemicals originate in a building
  2. Building Surrounds
    • Creating a buffer zone
    • Windbreaks, hedges, screens
    • Creating shade
    • Designing a healthy home garden
    • Going natural in the garden
    • Avoiding problem materials
    • Disposing of waste
    • Making compost
    • Working with rather than against nature
  3. Energy conservation
    • Solar house design
    • Green principles for house design
  4. Furnishings
    • Gas appliances, heaters and fireplaces
    • Furniture
    • Materials characteristics
    • Floor coverings
    • Cane
    • Metals
    • Fabrics
    • Flame retardation treatments
    • Mattresses
    • Dry cleaning and mothballing
    • Temperature and acoustic properties of fabrics
  5. Finishes
    • Chemical reactions
    • Lung disease, cancer, skin disease
    • Paint
    • Repainting
    • Timber finishes against decay
    • Varnishes and oils
  6. Pesticides & Alternatives
    • Types of insecticides -inorganic and biological (organophosphates, carbamates etc.)
    • Rodenticides
    • Miticides, Bacteriacides, Algaecides, Termite treatments
    • Understanding pesticide characteristics -toxicity, persistence, volatility, etc.
    • Common chemicals used in buildings, and natural alternatives
    • Common garden chemicals and natural pest/weed management
    • Understanding Insect Pest Management options
  7. Managing Interior Environments
    • Assessing air quality
    • Ventilation
    • Temperature control
    • Cleaning
    • Acoustics
    • Electricity
    • Domestic pets
    • Light
    • Colour
    • Indoor plants
    • Other hazards
  8. Consulting
    • Services that can be offered to a client
    • Checklist of building hazards
    • Procedures and business practice for a consultant
    • Setting up costs
    • Operating a business
    • Developing a business plan
    • Determining fees to charge

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the impact of the macro-environment (location) on health.
  • Develop an understanding of chemicals used in and around buildings and their impact upon human health.
  • Explain the impact of building surrounds, including a garden on the interior environmental conditions.
  • Choose interior furnishings that are not likely to damage human health.
  • Explain the health implications of using different types of finishes, including sealers, paints, preservatives and stains.
  • Explain the health implications of using alternative methods of pest control in buildings and adjacent gardens.
  • Plan health-conscious management systems for interior environments.
  • To develop an appreciation of the opportunities for, and implications of, advising people on the health status of buildings and recommending changes to the management of their use.

What You Will Do

  • Explain how proximity to different bodies of water can affect human health, including: Sea/Ocean; Freshwater lakes; A river; Ground water.
  • Explain how different aspects of prevailing weather patterns may influence house design in different regions, including: Temperature; Rainfall; Winds; Day length.
  • Explain in a summary, how proximity to electromagnetic radiation may impact on health.
  • Explain in a summary, how proximity to different types of pollution can impact on health inside a dwelling.
  • Compare the impact of different garden treatments upon temperature inside buildings, including: Tall trees; Lawn; Paving; Mulched surfaces; Climbers on walls.
  • Explain how different garden design decisions can affect ventilation in a house, including: Earth shaping; Planting; Constructions; Water features.
  • Compare the affect different garden components on light inside a building, including: Plant types; How plants are grouped; Walls; Topography; Pergolas.
  • Explain how the visual characteristics of two different gardens influence the inside environment of a building.
  • Analyse two different gardens for the impact they have on buildings they surround.
  • Compare health aspects of different materials used for furnishings including: Metals; Plastics; Timbers; Upholstery; Curtains.
  • Compare health aspects of different floor coverings including: Tiles; Carpets; Vinyl; Cork; Slate; Timber.
  • Explain health aspects of different electrical appliances including: Televisions; Computers; Refrigerators; Microwaves; Heaters; Air conditioners; Ovens.
  • Evaluate the furnishings in a building inspected by the learner, to determine recommended changes to improve building habitability.
  • Compare the health affects of different types of finishes including: Sealers; Paints; Stains; Preservatives; Varnishes.
  • Compile a resource directory of ten sources of healthy alternatives to traditional finishes.
  • Describe the characteristics of three different specific products which are healthy alternatives to traditional paints and finishes.
  • Explain the toxic affects of ten different pesticides commonly used in buildings, both during and after construction.
  • List alternative "healthier" methods of controlling pests in buildings, including: Rodents; Ants; Termites; Flies; Cockroaches.
  • Develop a detailed pest control strategy for a building, in the learners locality, which includes: Structural treatments during and post construction; Preventative measures for anticipated problems; Eradication measures for existing problems.
  • Explain issues of building usage which can impact on health with respect to different factors including: Number of people; Electricity; Windows and doors; Cooking; Smoking; Curtains; Hygiene.
  • Analyse the way two specific buildings including a home and a workplace are used to determine health risk factors in that use.
  • Recommend guidelines to the way in which different buildings, including an office, and a workplace, are used, to minimise negative impacts upon health.


The immediate environment surrounding a building can have a dramatic effect upon the health of people inside the building.

Air, dust, and energy moves into and out of a building from its surrounding environment. It follows that if the surrounding environment is of good quality, the environment inside the building will be better.


The surrounds of a building can in fact provide a buffer zone.

  • Air moving through a clean garden will be purified before it enters a building.
  • Air moving through polluted smog will collect additional pollutants before it enters.

Organic materials outside a building will buffer temperature fluctuations.

  • Organic mulches, or vegetation covering the ground, will not heat up so rapidly in hot weather and will not cool down as fast in cold weather.
  • Surrounding trees can provide protection from excessive heat in summer and from adverse conditions such as cold winds or frost in winter.
  • Deciduous trees lose their leaves and let the sun penetrate in winter, whilst providing leafy shade in summer.
  • If the surrounds are well drained, humidity and other moisture related problems (e.g. wood rots) are minimised.
  • Hard paving (including concrete or asphalt) tends to become very hot in summer and colder in winter.
  • The use of pergolas, verandas, or wide eves can also be used to buffer the outside walls of a building from excessive heat or cold.


This course provides students with insight into the many ways that buildings can impact upon the health of their occupants.

  • Develop your knowledge so you can evaluate and instigate changes to improve a building environment for those who live and work there.
  • Understand immediate steps that can be taken to improve building interiors - choices of cleaning products used, decorative materials used, movement of air.
  • This course can enhance existing building and design knowledge or serve as a foundation towards other studies and higher level qualifications.
  • Use your knowledge in roles which entail the planning, design and construction of buildings as well as managing buildings or providing consultancy services in areas such as building renovation or interior design.

All ACS courses can be started at any time. With online and eLearning study options, you have the freedom to choose when and where you study.

Studying with ACS is more than wading through sets of course notes - we encourage students to research, think, and undertake practical exercises to extend and reinforce the learning process. In addition, our highly knowledgeable tutors provide personal feedback on assignments submitted by each student. They are also onhand to provide support and guidance when it is needed.

Study Building Environment and Health to enhance your CV, your business credentials, or for CPD. If you have any questions or would like to know more - get in touch with us today; connect with our specialist tutors. They will happily answer your questions, explain different areas of study available, and different options to meet with your study aims.

Meet some of our academics

Denise Hodges Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner, Marketing Coordinator (Laserpoint). Over 20 years varied experienced in business and marketing. More recently Denise studied naturopathy to share her passion for health and wellness. Denise has an Adv.Dip.Bus., Dip. Clothing Design, Adv.Dip.Naturopathy (completing).
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Peter Douglas Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management. Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian. Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to apply that knowledge both through his work with ACS, and beyond.
Bob JamesHorticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc., Grad.Dip.Mgt, PDC

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Technical WritingThe Technical Writing ebook has been written for anybody who would like to become a technical writer, add technical writing to their repertoire of skills, or improve their technical writing skills.
Indoor PlantscapingLearn about growing and maintaining plants indoors. Know what to choose and how to them. Learn about keeping pests and diseases at bay. In addition to the aesthetic qualities of indoor plants, learn about the other benefits they provide.