Selecting a Green Design Material – 12 Questions to Ask First

A green interior design material, finish or fixture must first be a good product. Here’s what to look for even before considering a product’s green claims.

Selecting the right eco-friendly finishes and materials is one of the most important challenges you will face in building your green home. Manufacturers have given us so many new choices and options to choose from that it now becomes a question of what is right for MY home?

As an interior designer committed to green interior design, this is something I deal with on a daily basis. There is a huge gray area between materials and products that are cutting edge technology and the risk of whether they will hold up over time as promised. You might feel that by building an eco-friendly home and you will have to sacrifice something like style, luxury, comfort or saving money. Fortunately, if you do your homework that doesn’t have to be the case. Quality green building products will give you a home that is comfortable and functions well – without problems or extra expense.

“Green interior design is always about making choices, compromise, and setting priorities,” is what I tell my clients. “It’s never going to be ‘perfectly green’, so you have to decide what matters to you.” You want to feel confidence in your decisions and have the information you need to weigh the trade-offs associated with them. Still, how do you know what is the best choice for you?

Here are 12 questions I recommend you ask your builder and designer about any green design product you’re considering-before you make your selection:

  1. How well will it perform its basic function as a building material or product?
  2. How does it compare with products I am considering or have used before?
  3. Does it meet code for my intended use?
  4. Is it third-party certified, or is it just a claim by the manufacturer of being eco-friendly?
  5. Will it contribute toward project certification, i.e. LEED, Green Build, etc.?
  6. Is it available now (or will it be when I need it)?
  7. How will it affect my budget?
  8. Is there any question about it’s safety or performance?
  9. Will it improve the level of energy efficiency, water conservation or indoor air quality of my home?
  10. How will it contribute toward sustainability?
  11. Will it require special installation skills or adaptations to the building?
  12. Is it worth the investment for the benefits?

After answering these 12 questions and talking with your building team, you should be able to determine if the material, finish, product or fixture fits within your comfort zone and meets the your environmental goals for the project. You should also ask, “What makes this a green design product?” and “Can you verify the manufacturers’ performance claims?” Then you can focus on the product’s green attributes and how they will integrate with the other elements of your green home.

Building a green home can be very rewarding, once you work through the layers of documentation and research to determine the best solutions. Working with a knowledgeable, experienced design and building team will make it much easier and more enjoyable.

Things to Consider With Your Outdoor Putting Green Design

Most instructors, for golf or any sport, will tell you practice makes perfect. What better way to practice than to have a putting green in the comfort of your backyard, especially when time is an issue.

When designing your outdoor putting green there are a number of variables to think about (in this order).

  • Cost
  • Practice
  • Location
  • Turf
  • Contour/Cup location
  • Amenities

Cost:
First things first, what are you able to invest into your practice green? Once you’ve set a budget it’s easy to base your design around what you can afford. The cost of a putting green is similar to a paver patio. If you are contracting the work out or doing it yourself the price can vary drastically. The biggest variable is the turf costing anywhere from $1.25 a square foot to $12 a square foot.

Practice:
Think about what you need to practice most? Is it putting or chipping? Do you miss those 5 foot putts or make them? You need to decide what is more important for you to work on. If you find the need to practice more chipping you might change the location of your green–especially if you wanted it near any glass windows.

Plus, will you be the only person using the green? Often family and friends including children want to enjoy your putting green as well. What do you want them to practice? Depending on your friend’s handicap, you might want them to only be able to putt. However, most greens incorporate chipping and putting.

Location: It’s best to find a relatively flat area to install a green. However, if you have a good installer they will be able to combat issues including severe grade and drainage. It’s important to keep your green out of any potential standing water and/or flood planes.

If your green is going to be used primarily for practice you should position it in an area that is most functional. Look around for grade variances already in your yard. The varying grades will allow you to have different angles of open and closed faced shots. Are you lucky enough to have enough land to make a 40yard shot? If so, take advantage of it and put your green in an area that will allow you to make those shots.

If you are using your green more for entertainment, put it in an area that is already communal. You’ll find you need a place to sit after a while. Often, greens are installed adjacent to patios or pools. It makes you feel like you live on the course even if you don’t.

There are many different turf companies to choose from. Each turf has positive and negative attributes. Turf selection should depend on your purpose for the green. There are 3 different types of turf-nylon, polypropylene, and hybrid.

Nylon is a good choice for someone who isn’t going to be hitting longer shots into the green. You are limited with controlling speed or roll with a nylon turf. Nylon also has its limitations on holding a ball. It won’t hold longer shots like an in-filled turf. A nice aspect of nylon is it requires very little maintenance and has longevity. This turf is non-sand infill increasing life expectancy.

Polypropylene requires sand in-fill. You can control ball speed and roll with this turf. It will hold a shot from longer distances. This turf is less expensive, but does not have the life expectancy of nylon. In order to maintain ball speed and roll you have to keep it filled with sand. This may be labor intensive and daunting if you aren’t on a maintenance schedule with your contractor.

Hybrids are typically your fairway, rough, and first cut turfs. These turfs can be either in-fill or non in-fill.

Contour/Cup Location:
Always be prepared. Think about and make a drawing of the types of putts you want to make. Most people want a break left/right (is possible with one break just switch the direction you are hitting from) and an area for a straight flat putt. The larger your green the more contour/tiers you can add. Make sure you have a path designated for water flow. Remember water drains off not through.

It is very important to putt on the base once it is completed. This will help determine where to put your cups. Most people want to crowd their green with too many cups. The fewer cups you have the more room you acquire around the green. If you want to chip, arrange the cups so you have different distances to target for your shot.

Amenities:
Wouldn’t it be nice to putt in the dark? Imagine its midnight and you can still practice your game. Spot lighting can sometimes cause a shadow. It’s best to have a high voltage light at ground level.

There are many companies who manufacture and supply most golf courses with tee markers and many other accessories. Pick up a catalog or go online and look at your options. You can really personalize your green with a custom course marker or bag caddie.

Most of you have been thinking about designing your own green for years. Hopefully the information provided here gives you insight to the design process. The most truly rewarding part of having your own putting green is that nobody will have one exactly like yours. They are truly unique providing you with a lower handicap and your friends and family with entertainment for years to come.

7 Unexpected Ways to Green-Design Your Home

As the world and the weather start to become more tumultuous… as the glaciers melt and the coral reefs start to struggle, the pulls and pushes of fashion start to seem less important. That is, unless you can manage to create a home interior design that looks fantastic and is kind to the planet at the same time! From ways to reduce waste (such as installing grey water facilities), reuse the materials that are already available (like incorporating recycled timber furniture and revived architectural elements), and making recycling part of your daily life, there is much room to grow towards greenness in your house. We all know that we should put in a compost heap, buy energy star appliances and switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Today we go beyond the obvious to unexpected, yet effective ways to green design your home. There are billions of homes in the world, and if every one used these tips for green design, the world would be a much healthier…

Create Indoor Landscapes

One of the world’s major problems is an overload of carbon dioxide. If you want to be kind to the planet in your re-design, take the idea of ‘greening’ very literally, by incorporating masses of indoor plants and lush outdoor gardens into the design of your home.

Use Recycled Timber Furniture

Timber is a product that can very easily be recycled, by chipping and pressing. However, one of the basic principles of environmental friendliness is that we should first Reduce our waste, then Reuse what already exists, and finally Recycle things which cannot be reused. ‘Recycled’ timber furniture is actually refurbished and re-used, and it creates an air of gorgeous authenticity as well as being kind to the planet!

Choose a tankless water heater

Not only will your home benefit from the extra space and the lack of a hot water tank acting as an eyesore, but tankless water heaters are far more efficient than their tanked counterparts. And like recycled timber furniture and many other green design options, they are also much cheaper!

Choose tiles

Tiles are far easier to keep clean with a minimum of chemical cleaners, electricity or scrubbing than any other surface. Choose tiles for your flooring and walls wherever possible to boost your interior design’s green credentials.

Buy for quality

Given the fact that your most important mission in a green home is to reduce waste, you are fully justified in buying the best quality furniture, accessories, flooring and wall decoration materials you can afford. The water, electricity and materials that go into creating new items has a major environmental impact.

Don’t be afraid to renovate

Much of a home’s green potential comes from its base design – placement of walls and windows, exterior landscaping and positioning of rooms within the house. Your energy savings and green potential is intimately tied to the design of your home, so it is important to recognise when you need to start from scratch.

Design for natural light

Plenty of available natural light means that you’ll need less electricity to run your light globes… and it also gives you a much better environment in which to show off your gorgeous recycled timber furniture and other solid quality fittings!

Modern Dining Tables Reveal Trends Toward Green Designs

Those with the same passion for the environment as they have with interior design may find scant Green options for modern dining tables. Luckily, some manufacturers are taking note, incorporating Green materials into their furniture.The Green revolution is gaining steam, as more and more people have become aware of the need to protect nature. From modern dining tables to sleek luxury cars, today’s consumer is more discerning in terms of the environmental impact of products.

However, there is still a dearth of Green options in the market. Those who are equally as passionate about the environment as with interior design may be disappointed at the scant choices of eco-friendly materials available for furniture and upholstery.

Fortunately, there are select furniture manufacturers today that have chosen to align themselves with the Green wave. These environment-responsible manufacturers make their products and designs as Green as possible, using high-quality and eco-friendly materials for fillings, fabrics, and frames. They provide all natural and elegantly-designed dining tables, as well as other furniture for bedrooms and living rooms.

Through research and development techniques, these Green manufacturers have improved on their production process, ensuring no harm to the environment during all stages of their products’ manufacture. They also encourage the use of eco-friendly and sustainable materials. Some popular green choices are bamboo, which does not require replanting unlike hardwood, natural latex, which is biodegradable, and FSC certified wood which come from sustainable and well-managed forests.

By changing the way consumers make their choices, the Green revolution is also changing the landscape of the furniture industry. Instead of just looking at the design of modern dining tables and other furniture pieces, customers scrutinize the materials and manufacturing process too. And with the full cooperation of manufacturers, the furniture industry can finally leave harmful materials and applications where they belong – in the dustbins of the past.