According to the American Lung Association, I live near the unhealthiest city in the country when it comes to air quality. Los Angeles tops the list of cities where the ozone is the thinnest and as far as particle pollution, it ranks number four. What’s my solution?

Houseplants are how I filter the air in my home. I take care of them and they take care of me, giving off fresh oxygen and filtering the air that I breathe. I consider this a foundation for good health.

Now, there’s a growing movement that takes the idea of healthy buildings to a whole new level. It’s called “wellness real estate” and it’s making me wonder if my houseplant solution isn’t a little bit inadequate.

Health Versus Wellness

Unfortunately, we can’t always control the quality air that we breathe. Nor can we stay hydrated throughout the day without exposing ourselves to varying degrees of unknown water quality. Health dangers are everywhere. We can, however, try to make our homes as pollution-free as possible. That’s why we have HEPA filters. It’s why we leave new carpets outside before bringing them inside — so they can off-gas. It’s why the BRITA water filter system is such a huge seller. Optimal health is a lifestyle. And we can make our homes support wellness, not just good health.

Why not aim higher than ‘pollution-free homes’ and create home environments that support all forms of wellness, instead of just freedom from air and water-borne toxins? There’s certainly enough technology out there to make this possible — like circadian lighting systems that help regulate internal systems in the body, for example. They’re already being used in senior living homes, high-end office buildings, and hospitals.

And as it turns out, a lot of people agree with me — including Deepak Chopra and a group of developers who themselves have posture-supporting flooring. They’ve even coined the term “wellness real estate”.

Health-Centric Homes

The concept of a health-centric home goes like this: office buildings have come a long way over the years in combating “sick building syndrome”. Most people strive for actual wellness, not just freedom from illness or disease. Isn’t it time for higher expectations from our dwellings? Shouldn’t they support our wellness goals too? This is the idea behind the ‘healthy home’ movement, which incorporates all kinds of wellness features into the home itself during construction (or during serious renovation).

We’ve seen this idea before. It’s what drives the LEED certification system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Like LEED Certification, Only It’s For the Body

We make buildings that are better for the environment and certify them as LEED. “Wellness Real Estate”, however, takes sustainability to a new level, literally turning it inward — to the home. Everything we consume from the food we eat to social media content influences our quality of life, so why not make buildings that are good for our bodies too?

Of course that notion wouldn’t have made sense 200 years ago because the idea of your home being bad for you was unheard of. It’s only because of “modern” inventions like Chinese drywall, lead paint, and other threats that we need to think about this at all.

We can only do our best until we know better. Now that we know better let’s set our sights higher.