Sustainability is an important topic in the world, but also to interior designers. A designer needs to be informed on this topic to better serve their client. Not only does a designer want to give a client their dream home or space, but the design also has to be “green”, meaning it has to be useful and serve a purpose. In the words of the US Environmental Protection Agency,
“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.”
As a designer, we look for substitutions that will be sustainable. Notice when you use a public restroom. Many places have gotten rid of the paper towel dispensers and have converted to the hand dryers. That wasn’t just for style, or because it was cool and technology savvy, but to serve a greater purpose. They were created to cut down the use of paper needed to be used just for drying our hands. The more paper we use, the more trees that need to be cut down to supply that paper. This is an effort to protect our environment.
Solar panels on top of roof coverting sunlight into electricity.
“Sustainable design principles include minimizing non-renewable energy, using environmentally preferable products, protecting and conserving water, enhancing indoor environmental quality, and optimizing operational and maintenance practices.” –US General Services Administration
There are many acts and organizations that strive for sustainability, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Executive Order 13514, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“a green building certification system as a tool for evaluating and measuring achievements in sustainable design”) also known as LEED.
Windmills used to convert wind into other sources of power.
There are also many things we can do as individuals to “go green”, such as recycling, reducing the amount of water and electricity we generate, and not driving our cars if possible to reduce air pollutants, just to name a few. Also, we can reuse or donate items that are still useful. The items that go to the dump just get incinerated, and all of that smoke and pollution goes into the air we breathe. It’s something to think about next time you are waiting for a friend in the car with it running, or letting the water run when you’re brushing your teeth. Check out these short podcast that can help us make our world a better place. Enjoy!