With more than four decades of experience in the construction industry, Robert Tomczak knows just about everything there is to know about building homes. His company, Hi-Tech Building Systems, is a leading supplier of high-performance building solutions, including being an authorized distributor of ThermaSteel, a structural, steel-insulated panel made of 100-percent recycled galvanized steel and expanded polystyrene. That product is one Tomczak plans to use in his new business endeavor: Majestic Estate Developers, the development company behind the Healthy Dream Home, a wellness-focused residence in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.
The home is designed to be unlike any other in the area. Tomczak’s idea of the perfect home emphasizes breathing easily, without toxins, which is why no materials containing formaldehyde will be used in the inner envelope. The materials used for the house were chosen with the express purpose of eliminating the presence of VOCs and mold, among other dangerous toxins.
“Green doesn’t always mean healthy,” says Tomczak, who is based in Illinois. “You might have energy-efficient appliances, or maybe you’re using recycled materials, but that does nothing for the quality of air. The industry wants you to believe that getting rid of urea formaldehyde is sufficient, and they call their products ‘formaldehyde-free.’ In reality, there is still phenol formaldehyde present. They’re both bullets, so it’s just a matter of being shot with a .22 or a .45.”
Formaldehyde has been called one of the most common toxic substances routinely detected in indoor air, and as of 2011, the substance was listed as a “probable human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent) by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The Healthy Dream Home is a very personal project. Several years ago, a good friend of Tomczak’s was diagnosed with a serious respiratory illness that was traced back to VOCs and formaldehyde that were present in his home.
Tomczak also has noticed an uptick in cases of asthma. “When I was a kid, I didn’t know anyone with asthma,” he says. “My child knew a few. Now, my grandchild’s entire basketball team has asthma. Indoor air quality is often overlooked but is so crucial to health.”
The longtime developer is invested in the wellbeing of the environment, too. The use of ThermaSteel paneling will reduce the home’s energy requirement by up to 75 percent. Utilizing far-infrared radiant heat throughout the house, including in the basement and garage, will slash the energy bill by another 35 percent while not distributing allergens.