The saying ‘health starts at home’ has been given new meaning, with the introduction of smart technology in some of Melbourne’s newest housing developments.

Did you know that approximately 70% of a person’s health is determined by their social and physical environment?

Air pollution, water contamination and artificial lightning are three major contributors of chronic illness, disease and even death, according to the World Health Organisation.

Nowadays, it’s estimated that humans spend 90% of their time indoors, indicating that the built environment is potentially one of the largest contributors to our health and wellbeing.

This realisation has seen a shift in home design to include a previously neglected area: Wellness.

The determinants of health, as presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wellness control centres in our homes

Innovative home builder, Simonds Homes, is pioneering the movement, recently launching the world’s first in-home ‘Wellness Intelligence’ platform as a standard in its base home packages.

“Optimising homes for human health and wellbeing can have a lifelong positive effect on the occupants,” says Kelvin Ryan, CEO and Managing Director of Simonds Homes.

The system, known as the Delos Automated Real Estate Wellness Intelligence Network (DARWIN), was created by global leaders in wellness real estate, Delos. It features home automation that monitors and controls air and water quality, and automatic ‘circadian’ lighting to mimic the sun.

“The DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence system is scientifically backed by seven years of research on how our indoor environments can impact our health and wellbeing,” says Delos CEO and founder Paul Scialla.

“Innovative products like the DARWIN platform are critically important to enabling the industry to move forward, and have the potential to truly revolutionise the healthy home movement in Australia,” Ryan adds.

A preventative measure against illness

Household air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks across the globe. 

The World Health Organisation estimates that 3.8 million premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases and 50% of premature deaths due to pneumonia in children under five years old are due to exposure to household air pollution each year.

Similarly, water is vulnerable to pollution by biological, chemical, and mineral contaminants that are harmful to both human and environmental health.

Conventional water treatment in Australia does not always remove contaminants effectively, and pollutants can also be introduced through the water distribution infrastructure.

Simonds Homes believes the built environment, and the DARWIN system in particular, can be used as a preventative tool against these illnesses – and home owners are on board.

Automated lighting mirrors the day outside. Picture: Jay Town

Melbourne-first initiative

Scialla says the decision to make Melbourne the world’s first city to host family homes with the DARWIN system had been based on a strong uptake of green initiatives in the city and an awareness of health and wellbeing, as well as the support and enthusiasm from Simonds Homes. 

Melbourne’s thunderstorm-related asthma event of November 2016 – which killed nine people and left 35 in intensive care – was also a kicker to roll out the platform as soon as possible, offering asthma sufferers automated air control in their homes to combat the effects of future similar events.

“Melbourne is also where the Simonds Homes head offices are located and we wanted to start our internal wellness focus in our home state first. Our entire business has refocused our ethos toward living a healthier and happier life.

“From our culture to our support services, and from our office-based staff to our display homes team, we’re making the move to wellness,” Ryan says.

“We are now pushing wellness throughout the organisation, embracing the entire concept and DARWIN, offering wellness philosophy and smart design for our clients.”

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