Building Biology

What is building biology (Bau-Biologie)?

It is the study of a relationship between the human made built environment and its impact on human health.  Our shelters, buildings and homes are considered a 3rd skin in reference to our experience with the Earth. Second skin is our clothing. First skin is our … skin!  This third skin is where the Western world spends 90%!! Of our time. 

What is the translation of Bau-Biologie?

Bau means the building and living environment, Bios means all forms of life, logos implies a sense of order.  Bau Biologie

Who started this movement?

There are a couple people to mention

  • Dr. Hubert Palm noticed the pattern in the 1950’s was a pioneer in indoor environmental health, he wrote some excellent books, was ridiculed by engineers and architects.  
  • Prof. Dr. Anton Schneider, Ph.D., was and is the founding director of three building biology institutions
  • Helmet Ziehe brough Bau Biologie (Building Biology) to North America in the mid 1980’s he translated the German course into English and created the Institute of Building Biology. 

The History of Shelters

People built building biology shelters for thousands of years. A successful shelter enables life to flourish.  A bad shelter could mean illness, vulnerability to weather and predators, a loss of food, even a loss of productivity from things like agriculture. People adapted their methods of the built environment for 1000s of years to thrive.  There was a natural evolution. Then came industrialization, wars and modern convenience.  This then resulted in the shelters being built rapidly with minimal thought to the climate they are in, the materials used, and how they are structured.  There was a clear discovery of an issue in the 1950’s, however like most things it took until 1984 when the WHO said there is in fact a problem, they called it Sick Building  Syndrome .

Building Biology

Modern Sick Buildings

Modern buildings meet needs such as function, comfort, and design, but rarely consider how they fit with the natural environment or if the occupants will be healthy inside.  It seems to assumed that if it was built to code that it must be healthy.  One example is that in every brand new kitchen that I have measured it failed national formaldehyde levels for Air Quality.  The caveat is it passed when measuring 6 feet away with the windows open. 

My own GP (family doctor) has concerns about the growth of chronic illnesses. I have discussed with the wife of an oncologist who has concerns.  They are is in agreement with the WHO that is stating there is a rise of chronic disease. My doctor stated that the age where chronic conditions has dropped from 42 to 28 years old in the last 5 years. 

In a study from 2005 to 2007 1in 6 young adults had a condition.

The aim for the building biology practitioner is to create a healthy, natural, sustainable and beautifully designed living/working environment. 

Building biology has 25 principles and many standards

The foundation of these building biology standards:
  1. Meant to be a guide and a level of risk when it comes toxins
  2. Then reducing that risk.
  3. Whenever possible use nature as a gold standard( Yes I do realize there are many things in nature that can harm and kill us, but let’s think about materials like clay(add link)

These standards and guidelines is the culmination of 30+ years of research and over 10000 surveys of sleeping areas then collaboration with over 100 medical, physicians, scientists, architects and engineers.

Here is a great place to get educated in Building Biology.  

Common groups and individuals involved with this topic:

  1. The main Bau Biologie & Ecologie organization is located in Germany as the IBN: Institut für Baubiologie + Nachhaltigkeit IBN
  2. The main IBN in Germany is led by: Winfried and Rupert Schneider
  3. Also the Swiss architect Bosco Büeler has been a leader in the field: Bosco Büeler
  4. The IBN has more links to worldwide organizations involved, and here is a quick list of groups around the world that provide information and training on Bau Biologie/Building Biology:
  5. In England: Building Biology Association BBA
  6. In India: Centre for Building Biology
  7. In Turkey: Yapı Biyolojisi & Ekolojisi Enstitüsü – YBE
  8. In the USA: International Institute for Building-Biology® & Ecology

5. Resources:



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