A Healthy Home Is More Than A New Buzz-Term. It Is Important.

As Americans, we spend 90% of our time indoors. That includes time at home, in the office, at school, and in our cars. Yet historically, the impact of our indoor environmental quality, and its effect on our health and productivity, has not been a focus on how our homes are designed, built, and maintained.

Now add in the pandemic factor.

We are all aware, painfully aware, that COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, play, and interact with others on a daily basis. We mask up in public, wash our hands frequently, fist-bump greetings, and press the crosswalk button with our elbows. Then we go back home and bring with us everything we were exposed to us. We bring it right into our home. Our sanctuary. Our safe haven.

This why having a healthy home is important.

Let’s break this down by looking at three important points that will make it to connect to dots and understand why, now more than ever, we expect more out of our home.

  • According to a Harvard study published in 2015, nearly 4 years before COVID-19, poor ventilation and exposure to indoor pollutants adversely affect cognitive function. This includes crisis response, strategic thinking, and information usage.
  • According to the CDC, more than 25 million Americans suffer from asthma. That’s 1 in 13 Americans.
  • Germs and viruses are easily spread across and cultivate on surfaces such as countertops, faucets, toilets, hardware, appliances, and other highly used surfaces.

“concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher

than typical outdoor concentrations.”  EPA Indoor Air study

What’s so important about these 3 examples? Because according to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, of which 69% is in a residence. Your home. Your sanctuary. Your safe haven. This is why having a healthy home is important. And why taking control of your health includes taking control of your home’s health.

A healthy home filters and flushes out indoor pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), moisture, and combustion leftovers. A healthy home controls indoor comfort is incredibly quiet and fights against germs and viruses via anti-microbial technology. A healthy home is designed and outfitted with the technology and flexibility to incorporate future healthy features and opportunities. A healthy home is your sanctuary. A healthy home is your safe haven.

We shape our homes and then our homes shape us.

~Winston Churchill

Want to learn more about healthy homes? Visit http://www.urhealthyhome.org/

What’s Health Got To Do With It?

 It’s been an exhausting, challenging, overwhelming, frightening, confusing, debilitating, depressing, kind of year. Last year at this time most of the United States was shut down for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of us were unsure of what was going on. For myself, I was living through the nightmare of COVID-19. I had contracted it in January while at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas. I went to visit the doctor on January 27th and told her that I knew I had COVID-19. She asked me if I had been to China and when I said no, she discounted my concerns. I was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life and I knew I had COVID-19.

After being diagnosed with pneumonia and on two rounds of antibiotics, I got a CT Scan that showed multiple blood clots in my right lung. I was put on Eliquis, sent for heart and blood tests, and was told to “stay home and don’t go around anyone that could be sick.”  So, I stayed home, which is where many of us have found ourselves the last 12 months. I was referred to another doctor and she agreed I had been suffering from COVID-19.

So, what does health have to do with it?  It turns out, as we have all discovered, a lot. And if you’re building new homes, you’re going to need to make sure that you are aware of all the designs, products, construction techniques, and ways you can build a healthy home.

New home buyers are looking for a home that is built to support their health and wellness by using floor plan designs that allow for “clean rooms” coming in from the garage for groceries, clothing, etc., flexible floor plans, multiple offices, movable walls that allow for privacy, and outdoor spaces that can be used for work, play, school, and entertainment. The homes should incorporate indoor air filtration and purification systems, water purification, humidity control, easy-to-clean surfaces, low-VOC paints and materials, and overall indoor air quality (IAQ). They should use touchless faucets, handles, toilets, and appliances,

A healthy home is an energy-efficient home. And the healthiest home is an All-Electric home, which eliminates the carbon, pollutants, and airborne toxins from gas heating, cooking, hot water, and dryers. It may also be located in a walkable community with indoor and outdoor recreation facilities such as walking trails, fitness centers, and or swimming pools.

One of the most important characteristics of a healthy home is indoor air quality (IAQ) which uses a robust HVAC system that includes air filtration, purification, and proper ventilation. With a MERV 13 filter, these systems can reduce or eliminate common allergens and pollutants such as dust, pollen, smog, and bacteria from the home which improves indoor air quality.

Homeowners also consider humidity control an essential component of a healthy home. Excessive damp indoor air is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause mold and mildew on the inside and outside of walls as well as around pipes and ductwork. Air that is too dry can cause problems such as warped floors to respiratory health problems.

Buyers want easy-to-clean surfaces on countertops like granite, copper, quartz, and Silestone. For floors, that means products such as hardwood, tile, linoleum, cork, or bamboo. And for walls, low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) paints are in high demand. VOCs are chemicals that are released into the air and can cause health problems in people with asthma or other respiratory issues.

If you feel overwhelmed by everything going on in the healthy home movement, we’ve created an organization to help you figure it all out. The mission of our new non-profit, Healthy Home Alliance, is to promote the Healthy Home movement by providing marketing, education, and outreach to stakeholders and partners in the building and lifestyle industries. The goal is to facilitate the adoption of the technologies, products, construction techniques, and clean energy sources that will create the optimum healthy indoor environment for residents, as well as mitigate greenhouse gas emissions for the greater good of the planet. You can find out more about our organization by visiting www.urhealthyhome.org.

We’re launching the organization with Healthy Home 101, a virtual event on June 24th from 1 – 5 pm Pacific Time. If you’re a home builder, contractor, HVAC contractor, plumber, architect, designer, energy consultant, real estate agent, marketing & sales professional, or homebuilder purchasing agent, please join us for an informative session on how to design, build, and sell a healthy home!  Register here: http://urhealthyhome.org/registration/

We look forward to sharing with you some great insights into the healthy home movement!  See you online soon!

Virtual Event Marketing: Engagement Is Queen

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about how we live, work, and play. The impact of the pandemic has been especially felt in the event marketing space, where thousands of small, medium, and large in-person events were canceled and many of them went virtual in 2020.

Marketing teams have struggled with how to replicate successful in-person events with online platforms. Many event planners were not prepared for this change and realized that the skills needed to put together an in-person event were different for the online arena. An industry study done by Certain showed that more than half of their survey participants were struggling with attendee engagement during online events.  As a result, marketing teams have to shift their focus to how to better engage virtual attendees to provide better ROI for events.

While measuring event ROI has always been an issue for event marketers, now that events have moved into the digital space the challenge of engaging attendees has increased. Without the valuable intent data that come from attendee engagement, sales and marketing teams are left without the necessary insights to inform their communications and follow up effectively with the customer and prospect attendees.

As more companies focus on putting their events online, they realize that engaging attendees and keeping them engaged throughout a multi-day event is very complex and requires a multi-pronged approach.  If “content is king” then “engagement is queen.”

After attending several small and large-scale virtual events, it became very clear that the virtual events that wanted to provide value through high-quality video production, gamification, showcasing beautiful locations, and high-quality speaker presentations, were the real winners in the space. Those that treated the virtual event like a “large zoom party” were less interesting, not well attended, and you could see the chat rooms emptying out pretty quickly.

The big question is how do you keep your attendees engaged and interactive?

Ben Chodor, president of Intrado Digital Media, the company behind the virtual event platform INXPO, which was used for ASAE’s record-breaking 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition, has suggestions.

“Virtual events need to be designed with an end-user in mind,” says Chodor, who has a new book, Transitioning to Virtual and Hybrid Events. He invites meeting professionals to close their eyes and envision the attendee sitting in the home office with dogs and kids and doorbells ringing and all kinds of distractions around. The obvious challenge: design something that will keep that person glued to the screen.


Since most of us have been working from our homes for months, virtual events are an opportunity for attendees to be “transformed” to another location. If you can broadcast “live” from an actual physical place, you can show your attendees a world outside their four walls.

Both the Democrat National Convention and the Republican National Convention were successful at sharing their host city locations. The Democratic convention did a video “roll call” of their delegates which transformed us to all 50 states. You can also do the same thing by filming on-site at the venue location you were going to be at or obtaining quality footage from the Chamber of Commerce or venue owner.


Creating quality content is necessary for both in-person and virtual events. Your event speakers must always provide content that delivers real value in exchange for the attendee’s time. It’s even more important that quality content is delivered online, as the content in each session reflects on the overall brand of the event.

To ensure that the content is high quality and provides real value, you may want to offer to provide your speakers with a marketing team member to oversee the development of their presentation to ensure it uses high-quality graphics, photos, videos, etc.

In addition, you should consider budgeting for speaker coaching, professional-quality video and audio equipment, as well as a broadcast-quality studio or help them set up their home “studio” to look professional and inviting. Just as the broadcast network guests spend time in their “rooms,” your speakers need to have a professional room to speak from.

The content of the presentations should provide lots of opportunities for “live” interaction either through moderated chat rooms, polls, surveys, or opportunities to set up appointments.


 In a live event, most of the focus is placed on general sessions and workshops, where attendees gather to “listen” with very little interaction. In the virtual event space, you should pay more attention to the Audience IQ and let your attendees play a part in the delivery of quality information. The audience should be allowed to use their subject matter expertise to deliver additional content to the attendees through live Q&A and requests from the speakers to share real-life experiences with the attendees.

You can use polls, gamification, virtual chat rooms, entertainment, contests, community billboards, and live Q&A to engage attendees. Another great idea is to create a “Virtual Event Online Community” that will act as an online platform for networking, promoting attendees, sponsors, and additional content that can be curated and shared across social media platforms.

It is also important to create virtual experiences for your attendees that they would not be able to get elsewhere. Virtual yoga classes, wine tastings, tours of museums, live concerts, Cirque de Soleil, and other high-value experiences are ways of ensuring that your attendees look forward to your virtual event.

Whatever you use to interact and engage with your attendees, make sure it is easy to use, scalable, targeted to your audience, fun, memorable, and shareable. People like to share their experiences via social media, blogs, and on their company websites, so be sure to include photos, videos, great graphics, memes, and other graphics that can be easily downloaded and shared.

Hello Virtual Events… We’re Looking Forward to Working With You.

Thank you and goodbye 2020.  You were beyond challenging and really knocked us about! But we learned to adjust and adapt. And now, we are equipped to ride your ‘virtual’ wake!

For now, gone is a majority of our face-to-face meetings, conferences, events and networking. We quickly pivoted and survived awkward Zoom calls, GoToMeetings gone wrong, and webinars that were better off being canceled.  Harsh but true. And we’ve learned and have perfected the pivot we had to make. The most evident growth, Virtual Events.

With the initial urgency of pivoting to virtual events behind us, the expectations for virtual events in 2021 are high, very high. So, what are the key elements you need to consider when designing and developing a virtual event? So glad you asked. Here’s a checklist we’ve put together to help you execute a successful virtual event.

  • The Plan: It is always important to have an event plan but with a virtual event, it’s crucial. The purpose, promotion and how you’ll measure success are only part of the plan. With a virtual event, there are additional challenges due to physical distance and the lack of a physical location.
    • Everything and everyone will be virtual. Speakers, attendees, event staff, sponsors, etc. are all participating from their own corner of the world. This also means they will be dealing with their physical surroundings while participating virtually.
    • Your event plan will need to have clear “what if” versions in order to address anything that could go wrong or needs to be adjusted to increase participation and engagement.
    • There will need to be sufficient staff on-hand with clearly defined roles to address every issue. Cutting corners is not going to cut it when it comes to a successful virtual event.


  • Create a Community: Once you’ve got your online virtual event platform secured and launched, utilize it as a pre-and post-event resource hub.
    • Upload and share materials that will get attendees excited and potential attendees to commit.
    • Use your speakers, presenters, and sponsors for pre-event discussions and surveys, as well as post-event follow-up and feedback.
    • Utilize the platform for attendee networking, post-seminar breakout sessions, post-event engagement, and the like.
    • Incorporate flexibility in the Community so those who are attending can have individualized/personal meetups in group settings that are sponsor branded or reserved for a fee.
    • Need to find a virtual event platform? Here are some recently reviewed: Virtual Event Platform Comparison: The Best of 2020


  • Engagement: In the virtual world, the potentials for distraction are virtually endless, so engagement and interaction are critical. Add a little fun to the sessions:
  • Incorporating live questions asked by the speakers during their individual sessions or even during the introduction period prior to the session starting.
  • Create contests that take place throughout the event where attendees can earn points, prizes or give-a-ways for attending sessions, participating in breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. For instance, create Game Night or themed Happy Hours where the winner(s) receive a private or semi-private session with one of the speakers, sponsors or industry leaders. A bit of fun with a lot of rewards!


  • Social Media: Don’t skimp on the social media aspect of interaction, especially during a virtual event. With everyone attending via their computer or mobile device, access to their social media platforms is right at their fingertips!
  • Create an event hashtag, virtual photo booth activities, design a photo frame that attendees can use during the event along with a library of messages or postcards that can easily be personalized and shared on various social platforms.
  • Incorporate sketch artists as part of your event to illustrate various sessions, happy hours, and social media conversation chains that can be shared by the attendees and included with the seminar notes.
  • Be sure to have a team monitoring each platform to interact with attendees and address any issues, questions, or concerns that may arise are addressed quickly and precisely.

There are so many details that need to be considered when putting together any kind of event, however; with a virtual event, these are the areas needing the most improvement. As we were saying, expectations are going to be high with virtual and hybrid events for 2021 and beyond. #HelloVirtual

The All-Electric “Elephant” in the Room.

We all know it’s there and we all know that no one wants to talk about it. The all-electric “elephant” in the room. Or more specifically, the home. We are about to rip-off the band-aid and address the belief that it costs more to have all-electric appliances than gas or duel-fuel appliances.

For purposes of this discussion, we’ll be focusing specifically on the incorporation of electric cooktop, heat-pump water heater, HVAC, and heat pump -=clothes dryer in both single-family and multi-family California residents*.  (Climate Zone 9: Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank & Pomona)

Myth: It is more expensive to build a home with all-electric appliances.

Reality: The savings of switching from mixed-fuel appliances to all-electric appliances is significant on both the cost of the appliances as well as the infrastructure.

  • The appliance savings on a 2-story, 2,700 sq. ft. single-family home is $3,282 per home, and a multi-family, 2-story, 6,980 sq. ft. 8-plex is $2,650/unit.
  • The infrastructure savings that can be obtained by switching to all-electric home construction, based on Southern California Edison CPUC Rule 16, is approximately $1,400 per single-family detached and $1,000 -$2,500 per multi-family attached building.
  • Reach Codes, local enhancements to state codes, typically act to the benefit of all-electric construction. Under the reach codes, mixed-fuel homes must meet additional requirements which will add to the cost of construction, whereas all-electric homes have no additional

Myth: Buyers will not settle for an all-electric home. They won’t settle for an electric stove/range nor do they want a heat pump water heater, HVAC heat pump, or electric clothes dryer.

Reality: According to a recent study conducted by Meyers Research, health and wellness features are the new premium elements desired in a new home, with the second most desired feature being Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). What does this have to do with making the switch to all-electric appliances?

  • Gas stoves are a primary source of combustion (burning) pollution inside the home. Cooking on gas can spike emissions of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide making the IAQ up to 5-times more polluted than outside air pollution.

“There are clearly climate and economic arguments for electrifying buildings, but there is also a profound health imperative. A new RMI report highlights the impact of gas stoves on air pollution and public health. “  Rocky Mountain Institute

  • Researchers in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have released a report focused on the impacts of residential natural gas appliances on indoor and outdoor air quality, human health, and potential benefits of widespread residential electrification. Although the study focused on California, indoor, and outdoor air pollution from gas appliances can be expected everywhere.
  • Indoor air pollutants can lead to a wide range of illnesses, in both children and adults, including asthma, heart problems, lung cancer, poisonings, musculoskeletal injuries, and accidents.
  • The EPA lists indoor air pollutants as one of the top 5 environmental dangers. With people spend 90% of their time inside (plus the coronavirus pandemic), healthy indoor air quality has become increasingly important.
  • Recent research has also demonstrated that poor indoor air quality has effects on productivity, decision-making, and well-being.

Myth: Electric appliances are inefficient, ugly, or both!

Reality: Appliance manufacturers have done a great job keeping up with modern technology to design and develop safe, efficient, affordable, and space-saving, smart, and environmentally responsible appliances. which accounts for more than 10% of the US carbon emissions. The new electric induction cooktops are not your grandmother’s coil range tops.

 Induction cooktops/ranges are safe, as there is no open flame. They are efficient, “no other cooking technology that we’ve tested is faster than the fastest induction elements.” They also maintain a consistent and precise temperature, unlike gas which fluxgates and uses more energy (gas) to maintain the desired temperature.

“I am a big fan of the control, efficiency & consistency I have with an induction cooking.”

Travis Swikard, Chef/Owner of Callie Restaurant.

 Home heating is the largest direct use of fossil fuel. Using heat pump versus a gas furnace, will significantly reduce carbon emissions, and is 2 – 4.5 much more efficient than Energy Star gas furnace (even in cold climates), delivers 2-4 times more heating energy than the electricity it consumes, and lowers monthly utility bills.

  • Gas water heaters are another fossil fuel using appliance affecting IAQ in homes. Using a heat pump water heater, which is typically cheaper to install than a gas system, will have a positive impact on the environment and be more cost-effective for the consumer, but it will also be beneficial for developers and contractors through the rebates made available by electric utilities and governing bodies in an effort to achieve their carbon goals.