When Bill Hayward, CEO at Hayward Healthy Homes, thinks about innovation in homes, he first thinks simple. His definition of home innovation is fresh air.

There are many unseen places in a home. And all that is unseen can become littered with toxins and outdoor particulates that work their way inside a house, such as pesticides, and dust. After working their way in through cracks and openings, these unwanted pollutants start to feed on the moisture and years of other particulates that have built their permanent residence inside the deep, dark places in a home.

“Homes should come with a warning label,” Hayward states. “Most builders and architects aren’t aware that the normal home concentrates outdoor pollutants inside the house. I have been running Hayward Lumber for 25 years and I didn’t know that. A traditionally built house, due to the way it is built, will concentrate outdoor pollutants. But, home buyers have a choice to put a fresh air system in their home. And, we, as an industry, have a responsibility to educate and support that process.

“After my family got sick inside our home, I started researching,” Hayward says. “Thirty percent of the population has allergies and is physically affected by the indoor air quality. The worst air that Americans breath right now is the air within their house.”

Courtesy Hayward Healthy Homes The benefits of a healthy home.

After making these discoveries, Hayward was on a mission. He says homes can be improved with two changes: the right ventilation and the right sealing. First, in today’s home construction, ventilation is usually approached by a bathroom fan. The plus side is that a bathroom vent gets rid of the damp, warm air. But, on the other hand, it’s bad because it pushes the warm air into the walls and ducts, where it can then harbor pollutants and help them grow.

It’s not just about balancing ventilation with supply and exhaust, it’s about tempering the air passively. Ending up with different temperature airs doesn’t work well. Ventilation should be added for the purpose of cleaning the air, so it should be exchanging the air in the room, and not just mixing it. Hayward points out that every home should have a high-performance ventilation system, like a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) or energy recovery ventilation (ERV), so that you actually get an exchange.

Hayward estimates that for a 2,500-square-foot home, it would cost about $12,000 to $15,000 to install a proper ventilation system. Luckily, he adds, code is starting to respond to these demands.

There's also the issue of air tightness. Hayward contends that for wellness and comfort, homes should be built to a 1 ACH (air changes per hour) or lower, which means fewer pollutants and sound entering the cracks. In a 2,500-square-foot house, to get to a 1 ACH would require $1,000 worth of tape, if you have Tyvek. The tape would need to go on all plywood seams and at all sources of air flow.

Currently code is at 5 ACH, but Hayward hopes that builders can focus beyond the code to create air tightness and noise reduction, the latter being another bonus of a properly vented, sealed home.

After the right ventilation and sealing are in place, how is the whole system affected? Hayward says that there is good news for the builders.

“There are several cost savings. First from downsizing the HVAC, then from lower risk, and also from the water proofing envelope. Plus, the house performs better and the home builder can reduce reserve per house if they have to hold because of the risk reduction. One of the highest litigation risks in home building right now is home buyer’s illness. So, the ventilation and sealing improvements lead to cost reductions for the builder and also for the consumer over time.”

Right now, Hayward knows there is an element of public relations. Builders and consumers need to be educated so that they can choose fresh air in their homes. Hayward has created consumer education videos, like this one, and established the Hayward Healthy Home Institute to provide information to consumers about the health of their home.

Hayward also was selected as part of an elite team to address product sustainability in housing at the 2016 HIVE event.