Photo of Ashley plugging in a tool to test a space

After realizing my environment was playing a role in my own health and also the health of those who I love dearly, I decided to dig deeper into my understanding of interior design and our built environment.  I listened to podcasts and had heard Building Biologists share information, I was fascinated by concepts I had never learned in school.  I had followed along with the Building Biology Institute for a while, researching their programs, thinking about what it would be like to study.  When the pandemic hit, many of their in-person trainings became available online and I knew it was my time!  I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise as it would have been a considerable amount of time off of work (back then I was working at a large architecture firm).  Once I started learning, there was no going back.  I didn’t see things the same anymore and I decided to quit my job and start Awakening Spaces where I could start to share this knowledge and implement these strategies with others.  In the field of Architecture and Design, the term “Building Biology” is still unrecognized by many, even though many of the principles of Building Biology are used throughout the field. I


In my opinion, Building Biology is “Holistic Design”, it is the study and practice of creating healthy built environments. In Building Biology, “Nature is the gold standard”, and decisions regarding our built environment are made based not only on the health of the occupants but the health of the planet.

Building Biology, stemming from the German Bau Biologie, started in Germany after WWII, when they realized that all of the new post-industrial revolution building materials that were being used to rebuild Germany were actually making people sick.

In Building Biology, the guiding force for all decisions is based on the 25 Principals of Building Biology.

Building Biology is a holistic approach to design and the built environment that considers the whole picture. It considers the built environment as a living, breathing, organism, as opposed to “green design” which considers the building as an “efficient system”.

Building Biology welcomes people from all backgrounds, teachers, mothers, engineers, designers, and accountants.  It doesn’t matter what your background, we all have one thing in common, we live and dwell in built environments.  I have found that my design background has helped me understand many of the concepts, but it’s not necessary.  Anyone who is interested in healthy environments can study this fascinating topic through the Building Biology Institute, where you will be supported by an amazing staff and community of likeminded individuals.

There are 3 paths one can take when becoming a certified Building Biologist. I am on the path to becoming triple certified and I’m in the process of doing my final projects for each certification.

BBEC (Building Biology Environmental Consultant)

A BBEC supports people with making their existing environments healthier.  They look closely at the things in your environment that could be causing you issues and will write a report for you on how to remedy those issues. 

BBNC (Building Biology New Build Consultant)

A BBNC supports those who are looking to build a home from the ground up. A BBNC works on remodels or new builds and consults on everything from selecting a healthy site, space planning for the environmentally susceptible individual, and sourcing healthy interior finishes, lighting, furniture, etc.

EMRS (Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist)

An EMRS will identify, assess, and mitigate/eliminate electromagnetic emissions (EMR, EMFs) in homes, schools, offices, and commercial buildings. An EMRS will all advise the user, owner, architect, builder, or inspector on preventative methods and practices that create and maintain a minimized presence of electromagnetic radiation.

The knowledge gained throughout these three pathways gives us a clear picture of what is required for whole-home + human, holistic health. Our environment is rapidly changing and there’s little that we can control. Fortunately, we have the power to control our interior environment and how we choose to live. I like to say, our front door is our biggest home “Filter”—you decide what comes in and out of it.  If you’re new to healthy homes, we offer consultations to help you get your foot in the door and jumpstart your healthy home journey. 

Ashley Realm

Ashley · @AwakeningSpaces

Awakening Spaces is a full service interior design and consulting firm that support health conscious individuals and those who have been impacted by mold, chemicals, and EMFs create safe nurturing spaces.

Whether you’re renovating, building new, or looking to improve your existing space, we’re here to help you navigate the massive project you’re taking on by looking at your environment holistically and outlining the steps you need to take so that you can feel confident that your home is supporting your health and you can get back to your life.

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