Bioinformed design and healthy indoor ecosystems


Twenty years ago, the conversation around microorganisms in the indoor environment was centered around the ways to eliminate microbe communities, with people generally viewing them as harmful to human health. As scientific knowledge has expanded, so has the understanding that not all microorganisms are negative pollutants, in fact, many play a critical role in human health and well-being. Today, this conversation has shifted towards searching for ways in which indoor environments can be designed in order to promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms and inhibit the growth of those which are harmful to humans. This model of design is referred to as “bioinformed design.” This design model will likely be embraced in the future for three primary reasons: (1) the trend of increasing interest in host-microbe interactions will result in an expanse of scientific knowledge regarding the microbial communities we may wish to cultivate or eliminate indoors; (2) human history is rich with examples of strategically managing ecosystems in order to achieve a desired outcome; (3) we are already unintentionally shaping indoor microbial ecosystems through choices about ventilation and human occupancy. With a shift towards bioinformed design, we will be better able to determine the patterns found within indoor ecology that will further guide the design process of healthy indoor ecosystems and build on our expanding knowledge of the interactions between indoor and human-microbial ecosystems.

Author: Georgia MacCrone


  • Green, J.L. “We’re covered in germs. Let’s design for that.” TED Talk.


  • June 2018. Lauerman, J. “The Human Microbiome.” The Washington Post.



The Concept of Hygiene and the Human Microbiome

Roo Vandegrift, Microbiology of the Built Environment Network, January 11, 2017

Biology and the built environment center

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