Welcome to the website of the Healthy Housing Research Institute, located in the town of Rockvale, Colorado, 81244 (between Florence and Cañon City).
My name is Gary Johnson. I am a retired electrical engineering professor from Kansas State University, and have both Electromagnetic HyperSensitivity (EHS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Cell phone and WiFi signals make me ill, although I am not nearly as sensitive as many with EHS. I tolerate the ambient fields fairly well where I live in Cañon City, Colorado, as long as there are no cell phones or WiFi in the house. But I decided to look for a place with lower field strengths where I might build a house (if my sensitivity got worse) and bought 59 acres in Rockvale, Colorado, on foreclosure in March, 2012. (A developer had platted a property of 80 acres, and sold 21 acres of lots before going bankrupt.) The property includes a gulch or box canyon with very low signals. I could not identify any place on earth where EHS was being investigated, so I proposed the establishment of the ElectroMagnetic Sensitivity Research Institute (EMSRI) to do research on methods to improve the wellbeing of those of us with EHS. The dream was to recruit medical personnel, biochemists, engineers, and other technical people to do funded research on many aspects of EHS. As of early 2018 there was still only one researcher (me), doing research on healthy housing out of my retirement assets. It appeared to be time to sharpen the focus, to make plans that one person has some hope of completing. EMSRI had not been legally established, so I changed the proposed name to the Healthy Housing Research Institute (HHRI). The new name suggests that the research focus will be on housing. Medical aspects can be added later if the right people feel a `calling' to associate themselves with the HHRI.
In May of 2014, a three bedroom, two bath house on a 1 acre lot adjacent to the 59 acres already purchased became available on foreclosure, which I was able to buy at a favorable price. The 60 acres are inside the town of Rockvale, and include a 40 acre lot that contains the well-shielded gulch. The remaining 20 acres are in six lots varying in size from 1 to 8 acres. The house and four of the empty lots are on a cul-de-sac at the end of Shaft Avenue. The house (745 Shaft Avenue) has been repurposed as the office and laboratory for the Institute. The 60 acres is what might be called "rugged", with elevation differences of up to 400 feet from the top of the mesa to the bottom of the gulch. The original developer did not do any stormwater management, so the adding of impervious surfaces (roads and roofs) made the flooding situation worse for the housing downhill from this development during heavy rain events. We are in the high desert with an average yearly rainfall of about 12 inches, but about once or twice a year there will be a one or two inch downpour that causes major problems. The Town of Rockvale expects me to fix what I think is legally their problem, so I am building stormwater detention basins. These are shallow unlined ponds that catch part of the stormwater and allow it to slowly soak into the earth and recharge the underground aquifers. They are dry on the order of 51 weeks out of the year. The largest basin requires about 800 cubic yards of fill material for a dam. I bought a 1990 mini excavator and a 1973 `bobtail' dump truck (no electronics!) and am moving the dirt myself. I feel physically better after a few hours of operating this equipment (exercise outdoors in a low emf environment), so it is not just about saving money.
The ideal location for this Research Institute would be on a paved street with all utilities including Internet, close to shopping and work opportunities, but with low electromagnetic fields. The Rockvale property, while not ideal, is at the end of a paved street with electricity and water. The 40 acre and 8 acre parcels have long gravel driveways and would be off-grid and on well water. It is about six miles to Home Depot and seven miles to Walmart. Colorado Springs is about an hours drive away, and Pueblo is a little closer. The climate is quite nice, with the site located in what is considered the `banana belt' of Colorado. All houses in Rockvale are on septic systems, which is not a problem. Most houses are heated by electricity or by propane. There are no cable TV lines to 745 Shaft. An outdoor TV antenna on the house receives CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and Fox from Colorado Springs. Internet to 745 Shaft is provided wirelessly from a nearby tower to a receiving dish on the house, then by Ethernet cable inside. I use Vonage to get Voice Over Internet phone service inside the house. The wireless Internet signal does not reach the bottom of the gulch, so Internet service there would need to be from cable, probably fiber optic.
So what kind of research can a one man operation hope to accomplish regarding healthy houses? I can build a small on-grid house that has promise of low interior fields, documenting the process on YouTube. I would then measure the electromagnetic attenuation from outside to inside. I may add features like extra metallic screening on the windows and measure again. I would also measure the energy efficiency of the house. After a year or so of testing and outgassing, I sell the house, and use the proceeds to build another house, incorporating the lessons learned from the first house. The test houses will be similar in size, appearance, and cost to other houses on the street. I do not see any significant planning, zoning, and permitting obstacles for these low-emf houses. If all goes well, by the second or third house, we should know how to build a low-emf on-grid house that can be replicated anywhere in the country at a reasonable price.
In January, 2018, a contract was signed with Morton Building Corporation to erect a 30' by 48' shop/office/lab behind the house at 745 Shaft Avenue. The shop was basically finished by early August. Morton is a nationwide company that has been in operation over a century, specializing in agricultural buildings with metal roofs and metal siding. The site is surrounded by a `forest' of junipers and pinion pines which pose a significant fire risk in dry, windy conditions. It therefore makes good sense to build all buildings with metal roofs and either metal or stucco siding in this environment, independent of any concern for the EHS/MCS individual.
The Morton technology also works nicely for residential houses by simply adding insulation and interior walls and ceiling. They will install drywall wall and ceiling surfaces if requested, but their preference is to use the same metal panels inside as outside. That means that their `standard' house is basically a double-wall Faraday cage. They supplied steel doors, which I think are standard. The seven windows were standard low-e glass, double glazed, half the window fixed in place and the other half that can be opened. The openable half had a fabric screen that was quite transparent to electromagnetic signals, which I replaced with aluminum screen from Home Depot. I bought frame kits and a 3 ft wide roll of aluminum screen from Home Depot and fabricated larger screens that covered the entire window on the outside. These were simply screwed to the metal trim with sheet metal screws. Mine are quite adequate electrically, but if you want the fabrication to look professional, you should hire a professional! This reduced the cell phone and WiFi signals coming from outside the house substantially. One early test showed a reduction of 47 dB. This reduction should be enough for most EHS people to do well while inside the house.
The plan is to build interior walls in one end of the shop, to form two rooms, nominally 12' by 14'. This should happen in early 2019. These would be left empty except for an air mattress, a table, and a chair. People interested in moving to the high desert, building a similar structure back home, or just wanting a low-emf place to stay while on a Colorado vacation, could schedule a few nights in one or both rooms. A donation to cover the cost of the extra utilities would be nice. Visitors can use the shower, refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer in the adjacent house.
At the end of a year or so of testing, I hope to build a regular on-grid house with a similar footprint on an adjacent lot of 1.503 acres. Changes would be made according to lessons learned from building and testing the shop. It would be a simple, three bedroom, two bath, floor plan, slightly more than 1400 square feet. This size of house is consistent with other houses in the subdivision and elsewhere in Rockvale. Construction cost should be no more than a conventional stick-built house. Once this house is tested, I would make it available for sale, hopefully to a family with one or more individuals with EHS/MCS. There are four more lots available for on-grid houses, of size 2.844, 2.568, 2.561, and 1.423 acres if someone wants to be a part of a small EHS/MCS community but live in a house where they selected their own floor plan.
I believe I can do the research on healthy on-grid housing just described, without research grants or additional people. Hopefully it will be useful to the EHS community. Much more needs to be done, definitely requiring grants and people. The world needs a vibrant Healthy Housing Research Institute! My hope is that once the first house is occupied by people with EHS/MCS, that the operation will start to look real rather than just a gleam in someone's eye, and that money and people will start flowing in. I continue to look for people who would like to partner with me in this effort.
The same building shell suitable for on-grid housing would also be suitable for off-grid housing, of course. The very sensitive individual will need a house like we are investigating, even if in a very low background signal level from cell towers. There are also fields from satellites, aircraft, and the newer automobiles that can injure some of us. There are many other aspects peculiar to off-grid houses that need to be studied carefully. One example would be appropriate LED lighting. Some of my work on this topic is in ledcomparison.pdf. After I sell the on-grid research house just described I will have the money to build an off-grid house in the gulch to start testing some off-grid ideas. This should keep me occupied for the next several years.
In addition to the strictly engineering aspects of building houses with low interior fields, it is also possible to investigate the health effects of living in these houses, in this part of Colorado, a much more complex activity. At one extreme would be testimonials from the short term visitors to the shop, a self-evaluation without input from medical professionals. After sleeping in the shop for a few nights, the visitor is asked to review the experience. This approach would have minimal legal, ethical, and financial concerns. The model at the other extreme would be the Mayo Clinic. You present yourself to a group of highly paid professionals, expecting them to efficiently diagnose and fix the health problem. I think there are clinics around the world that would like to be the Mayo Clinic for those with EHS, but I have no direct experience with them. From what I know about EHS, I am not convinced that the Mayo Clinic model is optimum. Western Medicine has been in denial for too many years about EHS. There are many medical problems that Western Medicine is really good at fixing, but EHS is not one at the present time.
I am of the opinion that we need to keep our options open in regard to healing those with EHS. If one approach does not help, try another approach. A purpose statement I saw recently stated it well: "We acknowledge and hold in equal esteem the healing power of Western Medicine, Eastern Medicine, Indigenous Medicine, Energy Medicine, Prayer, Mind-Body Medicine, Nutrition, Natural Medicine, Homeopathy, Yoga, Movement Arts and all integrative practices that heal." (Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine, gfimusa.com).
I am hopeful that having several with EHS living in adjacent houses will evolve into a community that wants to heal, sharing suggestions that each found helpful at some point, sharing the occasional supplement capsule, even praying for one another. This Institute may never be a Mayo Clinic in reputation, but it can still be a place where healing regularly occurs.
I regularly get telephone calls and emails from the EHS who are desperate for a place to live. Many are on disability, and can afford only perhaps $300 per month for rent and utilities. I would like to build some affordable cabins in my gulch for these people. There would be room for as many as 20 or 25 cabins, a fact that I have mentioned on this website and elsewhere over the past several years. However, as I look at the details of permits, I have come to the realization that it is illegal to build affordable housing in Colorado. This is broadly true for any type of housing in any location. Everyone has to deal with ordinances about housing density and minimum size that quickly make a project unaffordable. In my case, there are additional social and political barriers. A discussion of these barriers is in IllegalCabins.pdf. So for the foreseeable future, I really do not have any space suitable for a long term rental.
Visitors are welcome. Dr. Johnson is usually somewhere on the 60 acres between 8:30 and 4:30, Monday through Saturday, in good weather. A 48 hour notice would be a good idea. The phone number at the Institute is 719-458-1111, with Voicemail capability. The email address is email@example.com. I have not heard of any problems with GPS finding 745 Shaft, although it may think the address is in Florence rather than Rockvale. If you do not have GPS (or cannot use it) then the following directions may be useful. From Canon City: Find the intersection of Highway 50 (Royal Gorge Blvd) and HW 115 (9th St.). This is adjacent to the historic downtown. Go south on S. 9th. After the roundabout you will be going east on Elm St. and still on HW 115. Follow HW 115 for about 5.5 miles (from HW 50). Turn right at the road sign with WILLIAMSBURG ROCKVALE and COAL CREEK on it. This is County Road 11A. Go about 2.7 miles on this road. The street signs say CR11a, then Churchill, then May. Turn right on Shaft Ave. and follow it to the cul-de-sac at the end of the street, about 0.4 mile. 745 Shaft is the last house on the street, on the left.
From Florence: Find the intersection of HW 115 (Main St.) and HW 67 (Pikes Peak) at the center of town. (Note: there are at least 20 antiques stores in a two block radius of this intersection.) Follow HW 115 west for about 2.8 miles, then turn left at the sign WILLIAMSBURG ROCKVALE and COAL CREEK. Then follow the directions in the previous paragraph. This section of HW 115 is very crooked. Watch out for the corner where HW 115 leaves Main St. (turning north) just a few blocks west of HW 67. It is marked, if you are looking in the right place.