A couple of years ago I met in Toronto Mr. Andrew Guido: he is an expert in this field and he just launched his brand new company ERTH. I’m very happy I recently interviewed him.
Ps: we both love timber structures, but we also share another passion: homemade pizza!
When and why did you come up with the idea of the company “Erth”?
In 2016, I had just left my job as an executive with a large real estate development company and was investigating several different business interests. Wellness real estate was on the top of my list and the more I looked into it the more I got excited about it. Despite being involved with significant real estate projects involving thousands of units, I hadn’t made the connection between our health and well-being with the built environment. Until that point for me, all of the attention was on energy conservation, resulting in tighter and tighter building envelopes. The unfortunate consequence of this was trapping toxic chemicals from offgassing building materials inside our homes. I wondered was this why my daughter had severe asthma even into her 20s?
My curiosity would eventually lead me to the Building Biology Institute in Sante Fe, New Mexico where after 3 years of part-time study, I eventually graduated as a Certified Building Biologist (BBNC) in 2019.
Simultaneously I started developing the ERTH “healthy home” prototype taking a holistic approach borrowing from Building, Environmental and Health Sciences.
Is it possible to find cost-effective solutions to create better-living environments for people?
Absolutely! There are many simple solutions that everyone can do, and of course there are more elaborate solutions that require special skill and larger budget.
On the no cost side, here are some easy non construction fixes:
Here are some small cost interventions:
In the case of a major renovation or new build consider the following:
Which are the most common diseases due to the low indoor air quality?
Poor indoor air quality can lead to a number of serious illnesses. High levels of radon gas that can seep through the concrete slab or foundation is responsible for about 16% of all lung cancers in Canada, the United States and in Europe. Other common indoor pollutants include particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and biological allergens. These can increase the risk of allergic sensitisation, acute and chronic respiratory disorders and lung function impairment, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), autism, Parkinson’s, and emotional disorders.
Because of the COVID-19, people are spending much more time at home. Do you foresee they will try soon to improve the environment in which they live?
The positive side of COVID-19 is the increased awareness of the importance of clean indoor air to human health and well-being. With most people in the developed world being confined indoors we suddenly appreciate the benefit of so many things we took for granted before…the benefit of being able to open a window, having a private outdoor space, having good indoor lighting, being able to isolate from other family members if you are infected, the ability to connect with the nature outside, and many other elements. We have been buying air purifiers, IAQ sensors, hygrometers, and downloading apps to help us be more comfortable indoors. These are all the things and more that we have been designing into an ERTH Home.
Is there any relationship between using mass timber and occupant health?
Although wood has been used as a building material for thousands of years, only relatively recently are we understanding its health benefits. There seems to be more and more studies being published making this connection We have an innate connection to nature. Its why we enjoy walking in the woods and being outside. It increases our physical health and mental well-being. In fact, in the UK GPs are providing ‘green prescriptions’ to encourage patients to walk in nature. Psychophysiology is a field of study of the relationship between mental and physical processes. Design psychophysiology is part of biophilic design, of which the use of wood creates internal environments that support mental and physical health in occupants. This field has been at the centre of a design direction by architects and designers around the world driving mass timber use for building envelopes.
Essentially wood is good medicine. This connection was made in a study “Wood as a Restorative Material in Healthcare Environments” by Sally Augustin and David Fell. They found that “the mind and body are looking for a connection with nature when it is absent the type of nature and the type of building are secondary. Wood is a natural building and finishing material and therein is the fit with using it more in healthcare settings.” Wood has been found to reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, lower the pulse, and have a calming effect and hence accelerates healing.
I heard you’re designing your new home in Toronto: will this be a sort of showcase/place where to test different solutions? Is it easy to find on the market the materials/equipment you’re looking for?
I am really excited to finally be in the design stage of the first ERTH Home pilot in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. We are hoping this becomes a “living lab” for a while for developing, testing and improving or ideas. We will be testing new wall assemblies for resilience, energy conservation, moisture management and sound control. We are designing an integrated IAQ system that will include AI and the ability for the system to autonomously self modulate based on the environment and occupant behaviour. We are also including biophilic design elements to reconnect occupants with nature. This is not only been proven to make us happier but also to heal faster when we are ill. We have identified 20 key areas that will keep us safe, healthy, connected with nature and protect the planet.
Andrew Guido has followed his passions most of his adult life which have included fitness, food and now wellness real estate. He brings a multidisciplinary approach to homebuilding. With a diversified business career spanning over 30 years that includes leadership and operating positions in the food, communications, consulting, construction, and land development industries. He is a former executive with a North American development company that built several thousand detached houses and high-rise condominium units per year. He has helped shape the business strategy for some of Canada’s largest companies and has a knack for seeing what’s around the corner.
Andrew has a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from the Schulich School of Business from York University in Toronto, Ontario and is a Certified Building Biologist from the Building Biology Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When he is not busy working, Andrew can be found baking organic artisanal breads and pizza made with natural leaven. For more details visit: https://erth.com/.