Green Design For Today

This is the fastest growing segment of the Interior Design industry. Sustainable design is about creating healthier spaces and improving its effect on people and on the environment. Using recycled materials, Low VOC paints, water efficient appliances and fixtures, solar powered products, and locally procured materials are just some of the ways you can go green. The more you become educated on green design, the more you will want to start giving back to our environment.

GOING GREENER

In addition to the ideas above, there are a host of other options for making your bathroom even greener. While these will add additional cost, they promise a significant return on investment.

Tank less hot water heaters – While these can add several hundred dollars to your bill, tank less water heaters use 20 percent less energy than traditional water heaters, paying for the extra up-front cost in just a few years.

Water Flow-Low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads help to ensure conservation by restricting the volume of water involved in each flush or during each shower. Also consider cutting back your “hours in the shower” for optimal conservation.

Full Load-Using an updated and energy-efficient washing machine, in addition to washing full loads, can drastically improve water conservation. Energy-efficient front-loaders can cut water consumption by almost 40%!

Scrub-A-Dub-If you have access to a dishwasher, by all means, use it! New, energy-efficient models can conserve water, compared with hand washing, by up to half. Try for a full load of dishes each time. If a small load is being washed, look for features on your machine that will allow you to adjust the water setting to accommodate a smaller load.

Did you know… Paint and sealers cover a large amount of surface area in any building, and therefore have a significant impact on indoor air quality. There are two major types of paint products: solvent-based oil paints and water-based paints. Solvent-based paints contain large amounts of toxic chemicals and produce a great deal of hazardous vapors. To sustain a healthy work environment, choose only low-VOC, solvent-free paints, adhesives, sealants and counter tops.

What’s Hot…Bamboo Flooring, Recycled Glass & Metal tile, Cork flooring, & Resin Panels.

Green Design in New Urbanism

In urban areas, the sustainable designs of what is sometimes called the “new urbanism” are becoming popular. They take advantage of making high-density living enjoyable and efficient.

Multi-Use Green Designs

One of the tenets of the new urbanism is combining residential and retail spaces in the same building. This allows city dwellers to easily walk to the bakery and cleaners around the block rather than making trips all over town. It also seeks to eliminate the need for automobiles by placing such buildings near public transit such as urban train lines.

Green Certification

There are organizations that make inspections and give out ratings of green certification. Not unlike the organizations that certify organic foods in the US, these organizations are NGOs that have drafted documents that outline the basic requirements of sustainable building and design practices and judge buildings accordingly.

Water-Saving Green Designs

Conserving water in these designs is a high priority. Many of the most highly rated green buildings make the best possible use of water, often even harvesting it from the sky for use. Eco-roofs are one way that gray water from residential and business use can be recycled for irrigation. Moreover that irrigation can support plants that help cool in the summer and function as insulation in the winter.

By building such developments with water conserving devices such as low flow toilets and facets, high capacity washing machines, hot water on demand and others, vast amounts of fresh water can be saved in the first place.

Urban Agriculture

These buildings are, perhaps surprisingly, well-suited for urban agriculture. Green roofs can be used to grow fruiting crops and even trees that are now gracing roofs all over the world. As agricultural and horticultural productions are brought closer to city, more people in urban areas will begin to have a stake in their own food.

Retrofitting Old Designs To Green Designs

Not all building projects are new construction. There are many old buildings that can be retrofitted to adapt to a new, low-carbon urban environment. This process goes well beyond installing some insulation. The actual function of many older buildings can be adjusted with redesign to encourage new urbanism in older buildings.

What Makes a Home Green – Trends in Green Design

In the twentieth century the main goal of architects and construction workers was to provide a good product which satisfied the demand of a customer, who most often had no interest in pursuing eco-friendly design. This changed with the dawn of the new millennium, which can already be called the green age. Building specialists added one more aspect to their work – environmental friendliness. But with all the media buzz and political newspeak – how is it possible to grasp the meaning of this phrase? What exactly makes a building eco-friendly? Generally speaking, a green building has to be erected, maintained and demolished with a great care for environment at every stage of construction, usage and deconstruction.

The choice of materials is crucial. The materials have to save energy, water and other resources unlike the traditional ones. One example can be furniture recycling. Instead of disposing old wardrobes or sofas, it is possible to reuse them in many creative ways. Another example is using bamboo. Compared to traditional wood-supplying trees, bamboo grows eight times faster. What is more, bamboo doesn’t die when harvested. It grows again and can be used multiple times. Thus, bamboo floors can be definitely called green. If someone is reluctant to have a bamboo floor, why not go for cork? It can be surprising, but it is possible to recycle wine cork and make a perfectly usable floor out of it.

Another thing to consider is lighting. Whereas there are many devoted fans of old-fashioned bulbs, LED lights are on a visible uptrend. Unlike traditional light sources, they consume little energy and have much longer lifespan. The main disadvantage, however, is their price. Eventually, it’s cost-effective, but an initial investment has to be made.

Apart from energy saving, green designers need to take care of the inhabitants’ health. A very popular way to do it is using nontoxic paint. Everyone has experienced breathing fresh paint odour -neither pleasant, nor healthy. Fortunately, today there is a large choice between different manufacturers and their products, which includes paint with a significantly lower amount of toxic substances.

The safety and sustainability of a green building doesn’t finish at the construction process. It has to be conscientiously managed throughout its life. It is very important to ensure waste reduction mechanisms are in place.

Two other aspects to consider are environmental degradation and pollution. Using renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic systems, help to curb carbon dioxide emission and air pollution, in comparison with traditional coal burning practices. To lower waste footprint, it is advised to always sort rubbish and use recyclable everyday products, from shopping bags to clothes. Also water used in dishwashing or laundry can be later used to irrigate land.

The last step is demolition. After a building is not good to use anymore, it is deconstructed and taken to the landfill. However, in green homes many materials can be recycled and reused. Going green also means repairing things as long as it is possible, instead of disposing them.

In many countries authorities and local communities alike decided to encourage or even enforce regulations dealing with energy saving and green buildings, but eventually it will all depend on human beings – whether they will choose to care about the environment, or just about their personal short-sighted comfort.

Green For Everyone, Not Just the Modern Folks

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few years- you know what “Green” is (its been elevated out of mere colorhood). Green is literally everywhere. Its in magazines and commercials. Its slathered on every imaginable household product. Its the topic of conversation and news sources from here to high heaven (Mea culpa, by the way). Its the pet subject of the Architecture and Design field. Green is what you should be. Its what you should be buying. Its what you should be doing.

I think that Sustainability and Green platforms are very valid. However, with so much media saturation and “green washing”, it can be really hard for the average person to navigate this new world of green and white, (rather than shades of gray, we now have shades of mint green and sea foam). What most people don’t know, is that there are a lot of bona fide ways to institute green practices and purchases when building, designing and living in a house.

Here are ways that everyone can be green. These considerations are things that anyone can integrate into a construction or design project, regardless of style preferences, (its not just for the modern folks!).

-Buy Quality Products.When you purchase something of great quality, you increase the longevity of that item. When you purchase an item that will become dated or wear out in a few short years, you increase waste by throwing out the old and you increase consumption by buying new again. Buying for the long term is earth friendly. In the long run, you also end up spend less on great quality because you don’t have to replace it time and time again. Consider purchasing the best quality seating, carpet/rugs, and case goods your budget allows for.

-Use quality materials with longevity. When you are selecting surface materials, think longevity and quality. Use materials that are durable and will stand the test of time. Consider materials that won’t look dated in the future. Not everything needs to be made from recycled materials to be considered green (in fact, a lot of the hottest “green” materials of today will look dated in the not too distant future). Using and properly maintaining natural stone for counter tops and flooring is, indeed, a green practice.

-Use Green building materials and systems.This is attainable when involved with new construction and additions. When you start a project, tell the architect or designer that you care about the siting and natural heating and cooling of your home. Also ask them to specify green materials (such as formaldehyde free plywood, recycled insulation materials, etc.) and green systems (HVAC vent placement, lighting, window planning, solar panels, etc.) . Green design features that are laid out in planning and green materials that are utilized during construction can be applied to ANY home style. Green building materials are also better for your health (one very important component to the Green movement).

-Buy a built home. When you can, strive to buy an already built home. It is estimated that for every new home, 2.5 tons of construction waste and materials are used. If you buy an already built home, you reduce waste and evade using new resources.This option is not always desirable, but its worth heavy consideration when you are planning on buying a home.

-Buy antique and vintage furnishings.This goes hand in hand with buying an already built structure. By buying vintage and antique furnishings, you prevent using new resources and also prevent the waste  associated with producing new furniture. Become familiar with local antique shops, tell them what you are looking for. If you are intimidated, hire a designer to walk you through the ins and outs of buying antiques. Its nothing to be afraid of! (Warning- it can become addicting!). Even people with modern tastes can think about integrating Bauhaus, Mid Century Modern, Art Deco or Post Modern vintage finds.

-Refrain from buying products that use endangered resources. Look for products that use reclaimed wood or other reclaimed materials. Avoid products that use endangered or rare species of wood, stone or metal. The general definition of Sustainable is: “providing for present needs without detracting from tomorrow”. Use products that source not only from sustainable materials, but sustainable forests as well (contrary to popular thought, not everything has to be bamboo!).

-Use low or no Volatile Organic Omissions (VOC) paint. Everyone uses paint. May as well use the healthiest option. Check out Benjamin Moore’s line of green paint called Aura.

-Use natural cleaning products. Stop buying household brand cleaning products and laundry detergent. They contain lots of chemicals and fragrance that are slowly degrading your health. Use basic cleaning methods and natural, fragrance-free products. Just because a product has a little green “seal” or earth-friendly looking logo does not mean its truly green. Start reading ingredients and do some homework when in doubt.