Host: Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast where we talk to wellness professionals from so many walks of life from around the world and get their insight into living healthier. I’m your host, Wes Malik. So far in each and every episode of the Lifelong Wellness podcast, we’ve been focusing on our individual health. But we haven’t taken a look or talk about the environment surrounding us, the homes that we live in, the offices that we work in. And today we have a very special guest who believes that living a good life starts with your home. Mr. Scott Harris is an expert in that area. His goal is to help people live a better life. And he just doesn’t build or renovate houses, he creates homes and lifestyles for his clients. Many are celebrities, by the way, and then there are multi-million dollar estates and goal to improving their well-being. Scott Harris is Malibu’s choice award for Green Construction 2017 recipient, he’s an expert in the field of architecture and renovation. He is also a contributing writer for National Lifestyle magazines covering topics such as trends and building homes, remodeling home improvements, green ecology building design and building as an art form and paranormal metaphysics. So, I believe today’s conversation will be a little bit different from what you’re accustomed to. Let’s talk to our guests. Alright, welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast, Scott.
Scott: Thank you, I’m glad to be here.
Host: Alright Scott, usually people give an elevator or intro when they meet someone new and, you know, they tell us, you know, and they tell you what you do and, you know, where they’d been and what their experiences are. But I was hoping for more than an elevator, you know, intro. So, I was hoping to find out more about how you got into, you know, building homes and then particularly into the type of homes that you build. How did it all start?
Scott: It started when I was a child so I may get into the couch and tell you. (laughing) You know, when I was young I didn’t have the greatest childhood. For some reason, something clicked in my head. What occurred me was thinking that “Hey, maybe if I have a better home and a better house, I would be happier, my family would be happier“. So, I started at a real young age just trying to perfect my home. I can’t see it always work at home, took me until about 18th until that finally worked, but it sent me to this path where I never stopped, trying to build better homes to make people’s lives better. So, that’s the simple elevator for what I do.
Host: Did you go to school for this? Did you learn on the job? How did it become a career for you later on in life?
Scott: You know what it’s a good question. I started out so young doing this that by the time most people were thinking about what they want to do I already did it.
Scott: And I was ready to move onto the next thing. By the time I was already 15 ½, I had won so many awards and I think irritated my teachers just because I finished all my schoolwork early and was decided to teach the kids how to do their work. They said, “You know what? I think you’re ready to leave school”. So, I was 15 1/2 I was practicing architecture full time. By the time I was 18, I was already managing architecture offices, starting up new firms. You know, by the time I was, you know, and there are people that are coming out of school from USC and all these top schools that were making, you know, half of what I was making, they didn’t know what they are doing. And what’s interesting about these school systems that I found is that, what I wasn’t a fan of this that they teach you to do things in a way that the professor wants you to do them. And that’s not wrong. You know, I’m not against it but I really want to be a free-thinker, I want to take my own journey and I didn’t want somebody to tell me how to do stuff because I just felt I had a mission on to what and I wanted to find out where that mission takes me. So, I’m happy I did it. It took me somewhere different that most people have been and I did that as a conscious choice and I ended up working, you know, doing some of the top playboy mansion, restaurants for Gordon Ramsey. When I’m 20 years old, I’m doing Paul Allen’s estates in Microsoft.
Scott: You know, I’m just doing, I mean it just goes on and on and on. So, I realize, “You know what? I’m going to continue to take my path”. I got to work with the top interior designers in the world. And so, it was a good path for me. I mean, I wouldn’t say for everybody. For some people it’s great, you know, nothing against college but, you know, it’s interesting that a lot of the people that were successful in life actually decided to take a different path. When it comes with Steve Jobs, they decided to take their own journey. So, that’s my choice, that’s what I did and got me here.
Host: Sound like the Doogie Howser of architecture.
Scott: Some people would say I have a special mind so…
Host: Really? (laughing) Now, we’ve asked this question with all our guests and so we can set the premise and continue the conversation forward. What do you consider living well? How do you define it for yourself personally?
Scott: You know, I think living well is living in a state of peace, so much of our life we live in anxiety. You know, when you go to work and you go to school and when you go to your home. And so to live well is to be in the state where you’re in peace within yourself. You know, the idea of living well is to be able to sit on that chair and just have your drink with you or your food and be able to feel centered and grounded. We don’t have that opportunity in most of the areas or where we live. The places that we work and a lot of it is duped to I think a lack of understanding of how to create an environment that makes a person feel centered and grounded. You know, there’s all these buzz words and live luxuriously, everybody is coining their phrases but it’s really about just feeling peaceful because a home needs to be a place that you center yourself. It needs to be a haven that you kind of heal. And a home needs to be a place that I go into my nest and I just “Aaahh, okay I’m ready to go”. And we don’t have in most of the homes that people create nowadays. So, that’s what I try to do.
Host: How do you achieve that yourself, personally? And how do you achieve it through your own home?
Scott: You know, it’s interesting. I think the thing that does it for me is simplicity. And, you know, when you walk into most homes, and I guess now I do it in my own home, is just being able to have an experience. A house should be like a song. You should be able to walk in the door and there should be an introduction. It shouldn’t be, “Boom! I got you! You know and over the top screaming.
Host: Okay, yeah. Right (laughing)
Scott: Right, you know? “Wow! I’m so impressed!” You know? It’s like I don’t need that. I like the introduction.
Scott: You know, there should be a chorus line where every room kind of repeats itself. There should be some dissident notes every so often just for fun to keep your interest. There should be moments where you got this a nice chorus line and one of the rooms is just kind to make it fun and jazzy. So, house for me, what I do is I make it an experience. You know, it’s the way the furniture is aligned it greets me when I walk in the door. I never walk in the side of something. You know, I let natural light fled the house and not having clutters is such an important thing. So many homes are so cluttered and, you know, there’s just nothing worse than sitting there. You’re sitting on your bed or couch or whatever and there are 16 things to look at. Oh, my God! What do I do about that? Oh, my God! It’s really about doing less, it’s not about doing more in your home.
Host: Your home would sound like a John Denver song as opposed to a Kiss song, right?
Scott: Absolutely, yeah! (laughing) I mean, Kiss, those are fun, you know? I’ve done a lot of hospitality stuff. You know, someone equates to the way you dress, right? Like, what do you wear at home? Most people are comfortable in some sweatpants or women like their Lululemons, you know, and a nice little comfortable shirt and that’s where we’re comfortable and you want to make your home like that. It needs to be comfortable. But, hey! It’s fun to put on that red carpet dress every so often and go out, but you still want that place to come home to. And, you know, if you want to go to that Kiss song with, not at home.
Host: Yes, that’s true. (laughing) Now, how does our environment, when I say environment I’m talking about our home where we go out to work, where we go out to entertain ourselves, play, whatever, wherever we are? What are the things that are making us unhealthy or not letting us live our most good lives?
Scott: You know, it used to be back in the day it was, everyone was afraid of asbestos and then it became LED…
Scott: …but one of the biggest things that we’re not aware of is mold in homes.
Scott: And mold is in every single, you know…Every single moment you’re outside you’re in a mold and it’s a natural occurrence. But what’s happening is a lot of the homes, especially in Los Angeles in the United States, they’re made with biodegradable materials. You know, whoever came up with that idea, genius, right? So much to take his license away.
Host: Right. (laughing)
Scott: And so the moment that you build a home, it’s already biodegrading right at that moment. They said now the home is now less as long as your mortgage. And so, when we’re talking about something degrading what’s happening is, we’re giving a food source with paper on paperback dry wall. You know, wood materials, all kinds of synthetic materials. And then, what you all need to do is you add a little bit of moisture to it. You know what, it can be humidity in the air which is naturally occurring.
Scott: And then the mold finds a food source and it starts to grow and it starts to grow. And it’s really sad because mold has such an impact on the body. There are so many species out there and a lot of people don’t realize that they have it in their homes. You know, here’s the thing, what do you do when you feel sick? “I’m not feeling good. I think I’m going to go home and go lay in my bed”.
Scott: “What happens to grandma?”
“She never felt better. She couldn’t get out of the bed”
Maybe the home wasn’t helping you. So, what we do is, I have an allergy to mold, like a really high allergy which I didn’t realize until later in life.
Scott: So, when I walk in a home, you know, they said, “Send Scott in. He’s the canary. His face is turning red again”.
Host: Okay. (laughing)
Scott: I literally have a client who says “Send Scott in the room. His face turns red when there’s mold in there”.
Host: …when there’s mold. No need to try any other test, just send Scott there. (laughing)
Scott: I mean, we do exclusive, you know, very elaborate testing but, you know, it’s just funny that he said, “Now, it’s gone. His face isn’t read anymore”. I didn’t realize that.
Host: Is it the drywall? Is it the gypsum? Is it the wood?
Scott: No, it’s a good question. One of the biggest contributors to mold is paperback drywall.
Host: Paperback drywall, yes, okay.
Scott: Paperback drywall. So, the way that you…You know, the perfect environment for mold, if you think about it how mold grows outside, if you ever look outside by your, you know, on the planters and you ever have that kind of milly, kind of hues sitting on dirt half-broken down?
Scott: Well, that’s a mold that’s breaking it down. It’s a natural thing. On the back of drywall that’s basically broken down fibers, right? That’s what paper is. Then so you put that in the dark environment on the inside of the wall, you add a little bit of moisture in the humidity because your waterproofing wasn’t that great. We don’t have to understand how to make a home watertight yet.
Scott: And it just starts to grow from the moment that you build a home in the inside of the walls.
Host: Aren’t 90% of the homes in North America built with drywall?
Scott: And the mold starts to build up and then unfortunately if you’re in a more commutative environment or the contractor didn’t do the greatest job it starts to grow. So, what we do is, we do fiberglass back drywall when we can. We offer to the client as an option and some say, “Oh! I don’t get it!”, you know, but many of them nowadays are finally started to understand. But that’s all it takes is to get the paper off the drywall and you got a nearly mold-free home. We did a home for Ed Begley, Jr. if you know who he is and we use steel studs for the home. We used, almost no wood was used in the making of the home and he walked in there and his wife said the best thing she goes, “I walk inside and I get to just take a fresh breath of air. That’s amazing”. It’s so great. It’s like, you don’t realize it until you have it.
Host: Aren’t 99% of the homes in North America made with drywall, gypsum paperback? So, if every home has it, I mean, apart from ripping apart the walls and replacing all the drywall, is there anything that you could do with the existing drywall there?
Scott: What you can do, besides tearing down, we’re going to tear down America. I’m running for president and tear down America.
Host: Right. (laughing)
Scott: But no, what you can do is to mitigate those things as, you know, you can do mold test. There are several hundred dollars you can have somebody come in and they’ll do an air sample so they can they tell you if it’s in there, if you can isolate you can find it.
Scott: But one of the things that you can do if you didn’t have any money, just open the windows. Huge. Open the windows and let the ventilate, let the light in. One of the enemies to mold is light. It will kill it almost instantly. So, that’s the UV rays. Well, it might be on the walls and maybe you can afford to get it out, maybe you don’t want to know about it. Open the windows, let the sun come through, you know? Another thing that you can do if you don’t want to do that, you can also turn on your fan in your air-conditioning or in heating systems around.
Scott: You can just turn it on. There’s a little switch, it’s like heat, cool and fan on. Go and hit the fan on and what it’ll do is take all of the air out of the house and it kind of pushes it up and be circulate and filters it. Exchange the air, something its, that’s something probably the simplest way to do it. You’re going to homes where, you know, someone’s been sitting, they show you one of the rooms,
“Hey! I wanted to show you my pool house. What do you think?”
“Oh, God! Oh, my God! Wow! When’s the last time you open the doors?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I think it was four days ago or five days ago. Isn’t it nice?”
“I can’t breathe”. You know, so…
You know, let the air in and just open those doors. That’s just an easy way to do it.
Host: Speaking of the air we’re circulating and our homes have an air trap system, should I be installing an expensive filter? You know because there’s different grace, 300, you know, 600, 1200 VPMs or whatever. And there are different kinds of, and then there’s the Smart app filter, you know, they range from, I don’t know, 20 bucks to maybe even 100 dollars. An average price for filters about 40. Is there a specific kind that you recommend or is that something that we should be concerned about?
Scott: I would buy the VPMs as part of millions so I would buy the one that’s got the highest rating that you can afford. You know, you can go to your local home at…And there’s always that $3 filter, there’s a $5 and there’s a $22 one.
Scott: You know, it’s worth your life. Get the $22 one. Maybe it’s a little overpriced but get that one.
Scott: Next level up, though, if you really wanted to have a cleaner air is what we do is, we do an add on system, though usually going to the attic next to the blower or wherever that machine is in the closet and it’s a little box and it’s actually much better at cleaning your air and the filter’s in there. They even have additional things and there even have UV light. And like for a few thousand dollars, you know, you can live better. And that’s probably the best way because it’s really, you know, to your point 99% or probably 99.9% of America and the other country is living in this environment. So, if you can’t change the environment, make the environment better. And for few thousand dollars, get yourself a nice filtration system and realize it, “God! I don’t have a hay fever anymore, it’s weird. I thought those were allergies.” Like everyone on America thinks they have allergies nowadays, right?
“Oh, he’s got allergies.”
“No, maybe it’s mold.”
They don’t get it. (laughing)
Host: What other ways our homes degrading our lifestyle or well-being?
Scott: Well, financially they’re degrading our work. (laughing)
Host: Tell me about it. (laughing)
Scott: Yeah. I mean, I think how our homes degrading, I don’t really think of homes degrading us but from a healthy level but you also have all kinds of things where there are so many new materials, synthetic materials coming from all walks of life in all over the world. And there’s a lot of chemicals that are in those, there’s a lot of off-gassing that’s happening in these synthetic materials. So, what we try to do is use wherever possible, you know, organic materials and it’s something that…That’s a good question, how’s it degrading my life. I don’t know, I used to think about how…It’s funny since I was 5 I’d think about how our homes make our lives better or not but they degrade us. I think, just having, you know, better materials in the home…
Host: More light, more air, better air. Tell me about this, tell me about the furniture in our office, at home, you know, people have back problems, you know, we’re a little, you know, we’re kind of couch potatoes, there are different kinds of furniture and stuff. What do you know about furniture or ergonomics that can keep us healthy? Like, you know, you hear about sitting on a ball. I, you know, don’t like those things. I think they’re kind of fads, but you’re the pro you have a lot of experience with what people put in their homes and you’ve seen so many and you’ve designed so many. Shed some light on that.
Scott: Yeah and I actually spent about 6 years of my life working with someone who actually did furniture design and some of the top furniture design in the world. You know, I’ve got knocked off by everybody. And, you know, what we did is we would spend a year, we call it “Torturing your chair”. Literally, we just sit there,
“How’s it fit?”
“I don’t know, feels good. I don’t know.”
You know, we come back to it. We go to lunch and sit at it again.
“Now, it feels a little bit better.”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t feel good anymore. Let’s try it.”
So, that’s not the reality that everybody can do. I mean, to answer your question I see people in my office, everybody’s got the ball, they got the bracelet, they got these squeezers for their hands and everyone’s doing something and I really think the problem with America, you know, with our society in many ways is we spend too much time stagnant, sitting in a chair, sitting on a couch and wondering, “God! Why is my body aching? This doesn’t feel good.” We’re not meant to be like sitting there, you know, in that position. It’s interesting you go to Europe and you find that like, “God! Everyone’s really in good shape. I don’t see anybody very heavier”. You know, because you’re constantly walking, they’re moving, they’re being active. Well, those things are important. I think if we’re to make a society where we try to make the little cup that holds us every day, you’re the most comfortable cup ever, we’re just become molted to that cup, you know?
“Get grandpa out of the chair”
“No, he’s not. He looks like he’s finally decided to stay there for the rest of his life”
You know, I think it’s really about being active. You got to get up out of your chair. In our office what we do is twice a day we actually have, we do yoga now.
Scott: So, everybody gets up and we kind of do our stretches and yoga. Something has been helpful in our office is we have a desk now that will elevate with a little, they’re fun like “Eeeeh” and they raise up for you.
Host: Are they popular?
Scott: Yes, it’s like it’s interesting because I have a lower floor and everybody keeps try to send me their old desk.
“Scott, we got another desk for you”
I got plenty of them now. (laughing) But we got this desk now they’re elevated. It’s interesting most people are finding out that actually working in a standing position is so much better than trying to make your chair, you know, the most perfect ergonomic chair rather. I mean, we’re meant to stand on our feet, right? We’re not meant to sit on our butts.
Host: Yes. So, that’s something, would you suggest that to people in the office. Do you think that would make my life a little bit better? Should I do this podcast standing up? (laughing)
Scott: I would definitely try it. You know, it’s the idea of standing up. So, what we do is, we do a nice padded, you know, the area where your feet can get a little bit of cushy.
Scott: And it’s interesting most people, you know, there’s only like there’s one girl that we thought like, “God! How come she’s doing that? That’s weird she got that one elevated deck. She wants attention”. And then everybody is started spreading all throughout and now everybody. You know, you have a choice, right? You can either lower it all the way down, you can sit or you can raise it. And most of the people, I mean, we have about 50 people they’re all switching over to that and they’re happier, they seem to be healthier, their cheeks seem to be a little more rosey again. So, I would try that. I mean, thankfully for my job I don’t have to sit. I’m always going from place to place and I’m active. So, for those of us who have office jobs that are supporting the rest of the world. I think it’s something worth giving a try, yes.
Host: We had a very, we had a great guest on the podcast several weeks ago and we talked about, you know, the energy that human beings have and how our energy interacts with other human beings and our places and our environment around us. And I think you can shed a little bit light about concepts like Feng Shui and the, you know, building as an art form, you know, paranormal metaphysics.
Scott: Yes, it’s interesting I experienced when I was young I guess what people called intuition but I would just be able to hear things and feel things and see things that I thought was normal.
Scott: And you tell your parents, “Hey, did you see there’s this weird energy spot in the house”.
Scott: ‘What?” You know, and then you shut off and then you realize, “I should stop telling people about this”. (laughing) But, you know, one of the things that I guess, it is all very interrelated.
Scott: Feng Shui, energy, you know. We have 17 different phrases, you know, Star Wars calls it, Josh Lucas calls it “the force“. You know, everyone’s got the Qi, everything it’s really all the same. And really it’s actually measurable, but the bodies are bioelectric machines and anything that’s electric where has something magnet, has electricity running through by default that creates a magnetic resonance around it. I don’t want to get nerdy but it creates a field around it. And when your fields aren’t working well, you know, you’re walking the room and you’re like, “I don’t know why I don’t like that person. I still don’t like that person. I don’t know why” or “God! I wanted to just hang up on this person”.
Scott: Our energy fields are very powerful and then you consider how many millions of people on this earth we’re all creating our own little fields around us and collectively, you know, they be kind of become one. There’s a kind of a pulse that’s within this universe or within this planet. And so, if you understand that you feel it, I mean it’s kind of deep to talk about, but you can actually put those things into a house.
Scott: How. You know, I do it by way of it’s really an intuitive thing for me. You know, I walk into a home.
Scott: And, I mean there’s two ways actually, two important ways. One, I think, each property has a very different signature, an energy signature to it or a vibration just based on where it is in all the factors that surround it. So, if you kind of open to that when you’re working on this house and you kind of let that be your guide, it allows that house to be kind of become what it is. And it’s a lot deeper than this, I’m just trying not to be too nerdy about the whole thing because we don’t have a lot of time. But then, the other part of it the equation is, each person has something that they want.
Scott: And they’re not always aware of it. So, if you make the house, if you let the house be what the house wants to be and you kind of let that person kind of guide what it is, that’s how you get this extra level of sensationalism that people can’t put their finger on. Like, you know, if I do a house in one lot, I would never duplicate anything there. I don’t knock it off because there’s something about that property that made that special and made that need to be there. And what a lot of us do is that we don’t listen to the intuition. We latch what we’ve seen on TV, we remember what we’ve seen in someone’s house. We pull out, you know, we go on Pinterest, “Look at that! It’s beautiful. Let’s make that in our house”. Do you know what I mean?
Scott: We pull out some pictures of the magazine. And there’s nothing wrong with that per se, but you need to be open that, you know, because it worked, you know, on Miranda’s street it may not work on Hazeltine. It just doesn’t have the same kind of feeling anymore. And so, we’re so prone to being doing what someone has already done that in many ways it’s kind of taking down our ability to evolve as a society because we’re too concerned about ego. I mean, we build our homes nowadays so we’re more concerned about what somebody thinks when they walk in there than it falls to what it feels like for us. And that’s where the kind of break down happened in a home to me. You look at the way they are built in the past 100 years, we haven’t evolved it’s embarrassing. I mean, look at the home from the 20th when I take them apart and I put them back together now?
Scott: Pretty much the same, right? But then we think we kind of put a man in the moon, then we made TV, we made a phone, you know, like I can have people’s voice transmitted across the air magically into my hand, this is amazing! But yet, the home still looks the same. It hasn’t changed. You know, we haven’t evolved and so, it’s really unfortunate in that sense and I think a lot of that again is because we’re too stuck on ego what we think people are going to see of us or what we’ve seen. And so, if you start to become a little bit more intuitive and listen to what that property has to say. And you need someone that’s intuitive. You can’t just have a regular designer and don’t hire me, you know, the intuitive designer. I find it interesting that people usually tells you that they are they’re not. (laughing) That’s why I never broadcast it, you know? It’s the kind of thing that you just know when you meet the right person and you have to be open to just exploring. What’s right for that property?
Host: You mentioned technology and how we progress and how homes are still the same for over 100 years, maybe even 150 years, you know, in North America. In every country or every society has its own different types of buildings, Europe, Asia, you know. How can technology make our home healthier?
Scott: That is one of the best questions I have in a long time, I’m so happy. Because I think, you know, to answer that question “How can the technology make your home healthier?” in some ways, you know, we started out with detectors like the carbon monoxide detector.
Scott: Right, because everybody thought carbon monoxide was going to kill us. It turned out no one’s really got that in the house, you know? But, if there were detectors that were in the house, that detected things like air quality, I mean wouldn’t that just change our lives. You know, just something as simple as air quality. Air is one of the most important things that, you know, next to water and food. And we don’t monitor it. We live within it and there’s no monitoring. We’re more fascinated by the fact that we could, you know, walk over to an app on our phone or on a wall and go, “Look and watch me slide the light up and down”. Now, meanwhile (crazy sound) (laughing) And we don’t even realize you’re dying in your own home. You know and it’s like, “Well, watch this I can do a mix on the radio from Christmas to this stuff. Ain’t that cool”. We have the technology to a level that we’ve never seen before and, you know, I guess by default that would always be the occasion but we’re not using it for health reasons in the home. We’re using it for entertainment, for pop, for flash, and again ego. You know, it’s all about self-pleasuring ourselves, but we’re not actually taking care of ourselves by using technology to that level.
Host: The biggest piece of technology I bought for my home this year was somebody said, “Hey man. You’ll feel better if your home isn’t dry, you know, get a humidifier”. And I bought a $100 NOMA humidifier from, you know, whatever Home Depot or whatever. As the only investment I made, you know, I think about getting a maybe an air purifier, you know, those Daiso’s look pretty neat, they look pretty cool. But apart from that, I’m not aware of what else is out there.
Scott: I just got to tell you that you’re scaring me for you. You need to put that in the box and you need to take it back to Home Depot or wherever you got it from.
Scott: The humidifier, well it sounds amazing…
Scott: …is one of the most destructive things that you can bring to home as far as air quality goes.
Host: How is that?
Scott: Because what you’re doing is you’re constantly introducing humidity and as what we’re talking earlier the humidity is one of the things that helps that gets the mold to penetrate into your
Host: Ah, okay.
Scott: So, something that is simple like, you know, somebody has a box under their bed with some papers in there or some files…
Scott: …boom! There you go. You know you catch files in your drawer that magazines. It will start everywhere. I’ve seen so many examples of homes that were almost ready to be torn down because people have been living with humidifiers.
Scott: Like example after example after example. I went to the Japanese-American Museum in Los Angeles and yes it was interesting because they had brought in these exhibits from the war and they had these barracks that were all wood and they’re trying to keep them all, you know, their humidity up and you see these humidifiers. I walked in there and like beyond face red I was like (gagging sound). Oh, my God. I was like gagging.
Host: You can’t breathe.
Scott: No, I couldn’t breathe and it was horrible. And I couldn’t figure out what’s going on, you know. You think that maybe I’m sick and then I walked upstairs and I realized what happened. They brought in like I said one of the old barracks or made out of wood and gypsum and plaster and they had it up in the exhibit and there is humidifiers. These things were just breathing mold on the thing.
Scott: I mean, I literally just had to run out of the place and I had to write them some letters about that. (laughing) But, I don’t think they said, “Well, nobody else has complained about mold. So, it must not be”. (laughing) And my favorite thing is they said, “We had the general manager to look and he said there’s no mold”. Oh, you didn’t see it? Okay. Great! You don’t see an invisible thing. But no, the humidifier is one of the most destructive things you can put inside an environment. Do not put them in the home.
Host: What else should I be taking out of my home or replacing or getting?
Scott: What else should you be taking out? I would say, I mean, I haven’t seen your homes so I’m not sure what’s in there to take out.
Host: It’s a regular Canadian home, like a townhome. You know, it’s about 50 years old, just a regular run-of-the-mill normal neighborhood, suburbs.
Scott: I mean, anything that you can get out of your house that’s synthetic in any way is always better and sometimes even just taking things out of your homes. You know, as you look at the way they live in Japan, there’s just less there. You know, and they have this big, you know what they would do is to open up the windows, the doors, anything that’s synthetic. Take a look at your, you know, things even like your pillows, your furniture, you know, all of those things. And unfortunately, it does cost more to get like, “I’m going to get a horse to your couch”. But there are so many things that are in those, you know. I was working with an interior designer the other day and he said, “We deliver this couch to them and the clients said that the wallpaper are installed smells like plastic. It’s horrible! Fills the house up with plastic!” And it was like, “My wallpaper”. They went over and they were doing a sniff test and they were like, “Oh, it’s your new couch. That’s what it is”. And if you ever smell, you know, that new car smell they call “new car”?
Scott: Well, you know what that is, is off-gassing because all of the chemicals coming out. So, it’s not like a beautiful smell, but you have that happening in a lot of your upholstery. Unfortunately, the more inexpensive upholstery you have that’s where it’s in.
Host: So, is off-gassing bad for us?
Scott: If off-gassing in the sense of that being gassing from petroleum-based products, absolutely, yes. I mean, it’s just absolutely bad. What off-gassing is like the breakdown. So most of the things are now are like petroleum-based, you know, oil-based and so. That’s how you make your plastic, you’ve ever smell of some plastic. Here, let me give you the easiest tip, this will make it easy for you.
Scott: Walk around, use your nose and just start smelling things, right? And if you can put your nose against the cushion and I don’t talk who doesn’t smell like last week’s dinner but it actually smells like something interesting. Probably not good because what you’re smelling is gas that’s coming out of that.
Host: Oh! Okay.
Scott: So, if you can smell it that means something is coming out of it. More than likely, it’s not a natural product. So, that might be the first thing to toss.
Host: We ask you this question again. What other technologies out there that can make our home healthier. As you mentioned, something that would measure air quality. Is there something else that I should be aware of?
Scott: You know, the technologies that we have that exist they’re mostly, I mean, that’s it the technology for lighting.
Host: Yes, I want to talk about lighting as well because in my other life, you know, I do a lot of radio commercials and product ads and I recently, you know, work with this company out of Europe, Scandinavia in fact, and they were really big on how their lighting mimics natural lighting. And they were really against fluorescent lightings and how it really messes up your circadian rhythms and your body, your moods, and everything. The whole pitch, the whole product pitch that I worked on with them was that it’s close to the natural closest sunlight. Have you come across something like that about light or anything else?
Scott: Oh, all the time. It’s significant and, you know, is it okay to speak freely because you got a commercial about this?
Host: Please. No, no, go ahead.
Scott: You know, I mean all you hear about what this LED lighting is, “Scott, we’ve come a long way”. You know, everyone thinks that. And really I’ll just tell you what it is there’s something important to know that all they’re doing is changing the color of the light with a little piece of, you know, they’ve been able to figure out the right shade of yellow-orange to make it look natural before your eye.
Scott: Something huge that’s being missed is, did you remember listening to records back in the day?
Host: Yes. Vinyl, of course!
Scott: Vinyl, right? And it’s like, “Wow! Like your ears feel like they’re alive”.
Host: It does a different sound, yes.
Scott: Right and then it kind of went from that in the A-track to cassette to CD and now you’re like down to like, I think I just hear a beat and that’s cool. I’m happy. Well, that’s kind of what happened between the natural lighting that we used to have in the candescent lighting that was available in the LED lighting. So, they’re now measuring it in what they call lumens and lumens is just a variety of, it’s specifying how much, how bright something gets.
Scott: But, here’s what we lost that they didn’t tell you about is that the spectrum has been erased. Just like the way, you know, the older bulbs that we used to have, great I know they’re not great for energy, but just saying they’re also great for you and your body. They would actually show the full spectrum. So, if you walk outside and I don’t know if you noticed some days like the flowers look beautiful and another day they don’t, right? And you don’t know why the just look so pretty today. That’s when you get the full spectrum of all the rays being emitted.
Scott: So, what happened is, on these lights that are inside the house we’re using LED now and they’re showing a very small spectrum and it’s even on a simple level it’s depressing. I walk upon an LED mirror I’m like, “Oh, my God. Is that me? What happened?” Imagine your eyes are not being stimulated to see all of the entire arrays of the colors anymore. You’re just seeing how bright it is, right? Totally different, completely different. And then what they’ve done is they put a little bit of like paint over to make it orange or yellow and it’ll make you think it’s warm and it’s very depressing. I mean, I’m very sensitive. I walk into a home where I still have the older lighting or natural lighting and let natural lighting be your guide if you can, you feel so much better. I mean, this whole thing this circadian lighting is just really about natural light rhythms and I think but the reality is we have completely lost and we didn’t even know it the full spectrum form of light inside homes. And we spend, I think about 89% of our inside structure on average.
Scott: Whether it be in your home, whether it’s at work, driving in the car, at the mall, at the restaurant. So, 89% of my life I have to listen to like, you know, a reduced version. I can’t even see things anymore and that is depressing. My eyes are like they’re losing, you know, the eyes are this amazing organ that sees this beautiful spectrum and you’re not getting to use it with the LED lights that we have now.
Host: Is there a solution to that? I mean, is there a better-LED light or do I replace them completely or do I pick a different like there’s white, there is warm, you know the orange glow that comes out or there’s like this bright white light? Should I pick a specific one from my house?
Scott: You’re not going to be able to change it. So, no matter what they say, it’s omitting to oppose. So, somebody in Japan came up with the idea. It’s a light-emitting diode. It’s omitting a certain frequency. It’s blue, right? So, what you can do to try to warm it up to a more naturally is not rely on the color of the paint, of the bulb. You know, put a natural shade over it like put a linen shade.
Scott: And it’s kind of help to diffuse a little bit of the unnatural part. So, that’s a really good way. It’s kind of put it into something natural like, you know, they have this really cool Japanese lanterns where you can kind of put it inside. It won’t generate the frequency but it’s also going to cut off some of that cold frequency that kind of make you just feel, you just feel pale. God, I go on like an LED mirror and I’m like, “Oh, my God. Is that me? I need to call my doctor”. (laughing) “Wow! What’s on my face?” You know, it’s just I don’t know if you ever have that experience but I go to a hotel sometimes and I’m like, “Oh, my God! I look like that? This is not nice”.
Host: Everyone’s had that moment. Everyone.
Scott: Yes. Yes, but it’s interesting I go home and I’ve got, thankfully I’ve got stuck up in my incandescent don’t tell anybody. (laughing) I’m like, “Hey. You know what? I’m feeling better now”. It’s nice, yeah? That’s good.
Host: I figure it might be the wrong time to mention that you got the award for Green Construction in 2017 then, right? (laughing)
Scott: Yes, exactly. I did Ed Begley, Jr.’s house and we were got to deplatinum which is with the United States’ Green Building council and I think there’s just a handful of homes that are never been done this way.
Scott: And it’s a series of standards that you have to achieve, you know, from…Oh, it’s absurd. I mean, you can spend years studying this and learning how to create one of these homes. And one of the most amazing experiences, though putting that aside as much as respect the council, they gave an opportunity with Ed Begley to figure out how to build something that nobody had ever done before. And we had, you know, and I told Ed at the beginning I said, “I’m really not the Green Builder. I got to be honest”. And he said, “You know what? It’s okay. You’re the first person to tell me the truth. Let’s see what we can come up with”. So, we took an approach, instead of like trying to be commercial is just look at it in a smart way. How can you live in a home? How can you live on a part of the land where it really sustains yourself not from a marketable term but like the reality of really doing it? And how can you use materials in a simple way? And we actually came up with things like, we use for the concrete, we used what they call fly ash, which comes from burning coal. It’s the ash that you remember they have inside of your chimney? Or it’s a chimney with building coal.
Scott: And you can put 50% of that into your concrete and it makes the concrete more elastic.
Scott: And it smells nice. It smells smokey instead of malderia. And instead of like going to the landfill. So, did things like that, you know, when you go on a journey and you say, “I’m going to try and do something that has never been done before”. Maybe you don’t get there but we learn so many things. We did things like, one example is, the condensation water that you get out of your air conditioners, sometimes they’re in a white tube, sometimes they’re dripping.
Host: Yes, absolutely.
Scott: In California, what we have to do is we need to put those insides, we’re required to put that inside of a…
Scott: Drain line.
Host: A drain line. Okay.
Scott: And you don’t see it but those can hold 5 to 8 gallons, 5 to 8 gallons of water per machine.
Scott: And that’s a lot of water. That’s pure water coming out of these things.
Scott: And that’s per hour. So, what we did is I think we ended up having 5 condensers over there and we have solar power. And the hottest days of the summer, what’s happening is you got an abundance of power, all the air conditioners are running, they’re dehumidifying the house, right? And taking the moisture out which is what you wanted to do, not put it in most. Then we’re collecting that water that we’re pulling out of the air, we’re then sending it into the rainwater tanks that are collecting water throughout the year as well and then that water is being pumped in and irrigating into the vegetable gardens for the family.
Scott: So, it’s this symbiotic thing. It’s like you can see arrow-like water goes up, it evaporates, it comes back down and feeds you. And it’s like adding one more thing into the next, not just comes up and falls down and it’s like, and it feeds you, too.
Scott: But we did that kind of symbiotic system within the house. So, it’s like a water world there. You know, and you literally, and his bills, TMZ did an article on it. His bills are an average of about $10 a month for each utility.
Host: No way! Wow!
Scott: Yes. And you’re living comfortably like your air conditioning is just roaring and the more your air conditioning keeps roaring, the drier the house is getting the more water you’re collecting and putting outside in my garden. And my garden’s flourishing in the middle of summer. You know, it’s like those things you just, like how can you not live that way? I don’t need to call it a green I can just call it, you know, evolving. It’s a society.
Host: It’s sensible. It’s a sensible thing to do, right?
Host: Scott, maybe you’ve built studios for your clients or recording studios. I spent, you know, 6 to 8 hours a day, you know, inside the studio and they’re different colors and the colors, the idea behind different colors, like I go to the radio station, we have bright red walls there. It’s like, “Oh, we can get the DJs excited and that color will get people very in that mood.”
Host: You know, I studied Advertising a little bit so, you know, we take a look at a brand logo, colors and you know, what they mean and stuff. And oh, I made a stupid mistake of building a studio with black walls and one of our radio stations in a different location did the same thing and how it’s really depressing. I hate going to that studio. So, I rebuilt my studio into different colors, white and, you know, grey and a lot of glass, you know. So, it’s a fact. Colors like they really affect, you know, your moods, your health. What should we be aware of? What should we stay away from? What should we adapt? You know, what should we embrace in terms of colors for our house, for our office?
Scott: It’s a great thing, you know, there is no such thing as color. Color is a vibration in your eyes and organ and the sensor. You know, in black actually it absorbs all. But black does is it’s not a color. It’s the absence of color. And it’s the material that would actually absorb all of the vibrations. And so that’s why you can get depressed because it sucks everything out of you. And that’s why your black car gets really hot because it’s actually physically absorbing it. White, it never gets hot because it reflects everything. So, think of it as a vibration which is similar to a frequency like music, you know?
Scott: If you look at music and all of the notes, they’re kind of on a frequency chart, right? You modulate them.
Scott: Same thing. There’s really no such thing as sound or color. They’re really vibrations and we have two organs that, you know, one’s like when I hit this range, “Oh, it’s a sound”, “Oh, it’s a color”. So, think about it that way.
Scott: And if you think about it that way then you think about making a chord of it. You know, like a nice C, E, and G with your colors, right? And we know what feels right when we’re doing with these colors. And here’s an easy trick, you know, most of the colors are very synthetic.
Scott: But when you look out at nature, you can find like everything measures, right? I don’t care how many colors or when I go out and walk I never say, “There’s a really weird purple flower out there. I wonder who put that” You don’t have that experience. And so there’s some kind of something that’s natural out there. So, you’re picking your colors. You know, I say just take them and put them outside with nature. If it blends with nature it’s going to blend in your home.
Scott: It’s really that simple.
Host: That’s a great tip, man. That’s fantastic.
Scott: And so bring some nature and you can do it if you don’t want to hang outside, it’s rainy. Take some natural materials, take some plants, right? You know, take a little and put some eucalyptus leaves on the tray and put some flowers and put your pots and take your paint swatches and just put it there. And here’s what I like to do. I like to look at things with a fresh eye first thing in the morning. You know, so put it by your nightstand, wake up, open your eyes and go, “Oh, God! What the hell did I do last night? Sheesh! That was bad”. (laughing) Have the morning after effect with your love affair with your colors and wake up because that’s the best time that you get the first impression if you like it. Are you going to wake up to that every day? But in all kinds of things where colors, you know, they actually do affect the body, you know, like reds and greens, I mean you know all about these. You know, reds are a very powerful color they kind of excite you.
Scott: They give you energy, but they can be too much. If you see your kind of think of it as music like you don’t want the Kiss concert going on in your office all the time.
Scott: But, it’s also good for food. Like red and greens. So, if you notice most restaurants that actually survive they use red and green, you know, in their logos and a little bit of yellow.
Scott: But then there are the other colors you like blues and browns, those are really great for relaxation. But you got to be careful because if you use too much blues it actually can be depressing. So, you kind of has to think of that spectrum. Know that the browns and the blues are kind of integration in between they’re kind of good. And here’s something that most people do that’s a big mistake is most colors have too much red in them. They pick whites, they pick beiges, they pick all these cream colors and there’s a red note in them that just the people don’t know why but it irritates you because it’s like an off note in there. You pick beiges and what happens is you look back you’re like,
“Yeah, I think it’s a little pink”
“I think so”
“No, it’s not pink”
“No, I see pink. I see pink”
So, its beiges are really hard to hit a nail. It’s a little better to go for the browns and the blues for a house and the kind of people started doing the greys, but really for relaxation. When I did that restaurant for Michael Mina in San Francisco years ago and all browns and blues and walnut with nickel trim, I mean beautiful and bronze-like just amazing for your portfolio, right? The first thing he said, “Wow! It’s really beautiful. Guess what? Nobody wants to leave. Today I was turned over here is 2 ½ hours. Throws some red in here”. (laughing) Use the colors as an option, you know, depending on how you want to affect your mood. It has a huge effect on your mood. One of the colors that you really want to stay away from in house is yellow.
Host: Oh! Really?
Scott: Yellows kind of make you, like if you put yellow in a prison, everybody would be slaughtered in a day. It’s a kind of crazy color. It makes people a little crazy. So, stay away from the yellows. You want to use the red sparingly like, you know, it might be fun like here’s an option like we’ll do a paddle room and we’ll do like with a really nice create finish or some hand-rubbed plaster, the red and no one’s want to hang out in the paddle room, right? You know, they come in they get out. Like, don’t put it in your bedroom. Don’t put it on your kitchen. And the whites are really difficult, though. White is the presence of all colors. So, while you don’t realize it if you put every single color in the palette in there, that’s really what white is. All color. Black is the absence of all colors.
Host: Is that a good thing or a bad thing because I love white. Everything I own is white. I got a brand new studio, white car, pearl white. PS4 controller, white! Shoes, white! I had to have white, yes.
Scott: You love the presence of all colors, right?
Host: I do.
Scott: I mean, I love white. I’m not saying, I mean white is amazing like Richard Meyer like in rebuilding he does white. And white reflects every color but for a home, it’s just challenging because a lot of times your whites can go so many different shades and it’s really going to sweep your emotions. Like the white can very easily go to a blue or a grey or kind of a pool. You’re not aware of it. There’s this thing called white balance. And you kind of see it on a camera and so what’s interesting is the eyes will automatically set the white balance. So, no matter what color white it is, it’s always going to reset as the white balance naturally. Have you ever take a picture of something with the old camera and you’re like, “Why is everything go kind of yellow?” Well, guess what, that’s really what it looks like. What was happening was your eyes actually reset the yellow to the white and the camera’s taken your picture. If you understand that you have to recognize that when you see a white, no matter what the white is, your brain’s going to tell you it’s white. But it’s having some kind of impact and cycle. You know, on a subliminal level it really is impacting you because that white is not white. And so if you’re not sure of what you’re doing and you have somebody picking whites for you or you’re picking your own whites, it can sometimes go wrong. So, it’s a tricky thing to do on the whites. Leave whites in the hands of an expert. (laughing)
Host: Even I have to find white speakers, shelf speakers, and white monitor, I could list all of the things that I’ve got. I might have a fetish, I don’t know. Scott, you write about architecture and design, where can we, you know, find you on the Google internet?
Scott: You can go on my web page or you can send me an email it’s [email protected] My website is buildingcgroup.com. And then on Instagram, I do need more followers because they told me I don’t have enough. (laughing) So you could follow me at scott_harris_building. You can take a look and see all of the stuff that we’re doing there, all the cool projects, sneak previews of things and get little tips. Yes, that’s where they can find us.
Host: Alright, Scott. Thank you so much for being on the Lifelong Wellness podcast today. We really appreciate it.
Scott: Oh, I loved it. It was great. It was a really good experience and I feel like we kind of speak the same language so thank you for having me on.