May 23, 2011

Green design choices

Green interior design is part of the sustainable design movement that aims to produce healthier indoor spaces, better indoor air quality, and superior energy efficiency. Green buildings are healthier places to live and work, they support the environment and can also save and make money. They have better air quality compared to traditional buildings, cost less to operate and significantly decrease the harmful environmental footprint of the building. Green buildings also provide an instantly measurable way that individuals can make a positive impact on the environment.
Homeowners - not just interior designers - have the chance, through everyday choices, to become environmental stewards. We all share the responsibility for our impact on the health, safety and welfare of our living and working spaces, and for the triple bottom line: people, planet, and prosperity.
There are guidelines and strategies that can help through REGREEN if you are planning to do an update or remodel yourself. Here are some suggestions to consider in making product and material decisions.
1) Make ecologically-sound choices of wood from suppliers who can guarantee (through a chain of custody) that the original trees were harvested from an ecologically sustainable forest managed under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines
2) Specify paint and other finishing materials that have no or low levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Avoid chemical-emitting materials as much as possible.
3) Use products free of urea formaldehyde, which is a proven carcinogen. MDF (medium density fiberboard) often used in doors, moldings, DOES come in formaldehyde-free forms. It's better for your home.
4) Use sustainable fabrics made of materials from rapidly renewable, post-consumer or post-industrial recycled sources. Bamboo towels and sheets are more luxurious and not expensive. Cotton and silk make great upholstery fabrics when the correct weights are selected.
5) Select rapidly renewable flooring materials (such as linoleum or bamboo) to reduce the amount of land resources dedicated to production of construction materials.
6) Specify only energy-efficient appliances (such as refrigerators) with the EnergyStar™ rating. Consider eliminating some appliances entirely, such as dishwashers and garbage disposals.
LED lighting sets a great mood.
7) Use compact fluorescent and LED lighting. Simply screwing in a new bulb instead of incandescent bulbs extends the life of your bulb, saves up to 70% of energy, and provides great lighting.  Add dimmers to lights to use only the amount you need.
8) Look ahead and take into account the recyclability of all materials. Will their “next life” be in the landfill? Can you buy items without excess packaging? Are materials and products available locally to reduce fuel use?