As we start a new year, the need to reduce energy consumption and create sustainability in our homes and lives is more important than ever. Manufacturers of home goods, electronics, building materials, fabrics and more, are offering better and more attractive products to help us lessen the negative impact we have on our environment, I have been an advocate and practitioner of sustainable design for many years, and am enjoying the global attention to this movement. The philosophy of sustainability includes re-thinking how to use what we have rather than tearing down to start anew. Innovation and creativity will drive our desire to live well and better, changing our culture of excess consumption and a 'have it now' mentality. Our need to de-materialize without sacrificing luxury or quality will result in creative solutions in product design and manufacturing. Eco-luxury - my specialty - will be commonplace as clients understand and quantify the long-term benefits to their lives and homes.
Whether you are a trade professional or direct consumer, you will be affected by this global movement for ecological sensitivity. It will change how you think, what you can buy, therefore how you live. I have seen manufacturers respond to 'green' initiatives by producing furnishings, fixtures and building materials that go beyond simply meeting state and federal recommendations for energy efficiency. The Water Sense program launched by the EPA has resulted in the production of plumbing fixtures with low flush and flow rates, whose style and water consumption have completely changed the profile of bathroom design as we know it.
A few predictions for the next decade:
- Sustainability of products and process used in both construction and interior design will become commonplace.
- The monitoring of claims for 'green' and sustainable products, and the regulation of labeling and terminology will reduce 'green-washing' and help consumers understand what they are purchasing.
- Quality of life will take precedence over quantity of belongings in everything from the size of our homes to what is used in them.
- Homes will be designed as 'net-zero' - producing their own energy- and 'smart-homes' that work towards energy efficiency and not just convenience will be the norm.
- Contractors and builders will educate their clients on the benefits of working 'green' by using products that offer them long-term cost and energy savings.
- Companies will offer services designed to help us effectively maintain and re-new what we already have.
- Designers, engineers and a rising group of 'green' entrepreneurs will formulate products that re-use, re-cycle and re-new to a new level.