Is Your Home Healthy?

March 18, 2019

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Text by Kaitlin Madden    Photography by James R. Salomon, Matt Delphenich, Casey Dunn, Chris Cooper

Here’s how one New Hampshire company is ensuring the answer is a resounding “yes”—for both inhabitants and the environment.

If you ask a home buyer to describe the “feel” of their dream home, there’s a good chance they’ll launch into details about the design concept: the colors, the style, the flow. But, to the team at Bensonwood—a Walpole, N.H.-based builder of sustainable prefab homes—the true feel of a home is something far more tangible.

The company’s mission is to improve people’s lives through processes and products. This is exemplified by building homes that feel markedly more comfortable than standard-construction spaces by prioritizing things like indoor air quality and noise reduction—to the point that homeowners notice the difference the moment they step through the front door.

“Our clients can actually feel the difference in the materials that we use while they are in their home or one of our show homes,” says Alison Keay, a lead energy and sustainability specialist at Bensonwood. “You can immediately sense it being in the homes: the air is fresh, it’s very neutral and there are no chemical smells. The spaces are also very comfortable in that there aren’t large drafts, or stratification, and the outside noises are buffered, so it’s very quiet inside the houses.”

Bensonwood’s commitment to quality and attention to detail play out in the day-to-day experience of one of their homes. The tile in the bathroom never feels cold underfoot, because temperatures are controlled so precisely. Natural finishes applied to millwork never feel like plastic under hand, and, over time, acquire a luster and patina that enhances the beauty of the wood.

The only air that does make it into the home is indeed meant to be there. And it, too, contributes to the overall well-being of the home and its inhabitants. Bensonwood’s standard ventilation designs use balanced ventilation with energy recovery. This simultaneously brings in fresh air while expelling stale air. At the same time, the energy recovery process tempers the incoming air, lowering both energy consumption and heating costs.

The sum of these conscious efforts is a home that’s more comfortable, not just physically, but also psychologically. Studies have shown that occupants experience improved health outcomes, such as reduced allergies and illnesses. Occupants can rest easy knowing their air is pure, and their home is doing its part to minimize detrimental planetary impacts. It’s reminiscent of a perfectly placed Winston Churchill quote on a beam in the company’s headquarters that reads, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

Bensonwood, Walpole, N.H.

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