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ECOLOGY: The branch of sociology that is concerned with studying the relationships between human groups and their physical and social environments. Greek, oikos, (house)

- American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, 2000

In today’s world, it is difficult to know what comprises the products we purchase, the food we eat, or the air we breathe. Sustainable design is based on understanding the origin, use, and eventual disposal of products we consume. As you can imagine, this information is useful in determining the health of such things as vinyl siding, household cleaning fluids, and even "that new car smell."

We include ecology in our scope of work because we acknowledge that our actions have an impact on everyone’s environment. Seemingly negligible acts by one individual have cumulative effects on others. What one person pours down their drain eventually has to be filtered out of everyone’s drinking water. With 40% of all landfill material resulting from construction, the act of making a building has an impact far beyond that particular structure. In all of our projects, we try to make informed decisions about the products and systems we use.

Celento Henn has made a commitment to healthy building practices. Furthermore, our company car is a Honda Insight – one of the first commercially available cars to use hybrid electric/gasoline technology. We recycle what we are able to and buy recycled and organic products when possible. Also, we garden without pesticides using minimal water for both office and home. While these are admittedly small steps, it is our hope that the judicious use of healthy products for both ourselves and our clients will increase the general health of all.

Rebecca Henn, AIA, is LEED Accredited, and Celento Henn is a member of the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). Our office stays informed with numerous resources that include: Environmental Building News, Greenspec, Environmental Design & Construction, Green@work, Interiors and Sources Magazine, and others. We are delighted to assist clients interested in healthy building practices, as well as LEED certification.

Why consider healthy building practices? We choose this course based on research that either suggests or confirms the negative effects of toxins in our immediate environment. The following list includes just a few facts that have increased our awareness and commitment to healthy design.