Ecologically Sustainable Interior Design
We all try to do our bit for the environment don’t we? We use energy-saving lightbulbs, put a good layer of insulation down in the loft, try to buy A-rated appliances and talk about shunning plastic. There’s still so much more we could do but realistically most people just don’t have the time to do all the research; life gets in the way.
It's not all on you. Architects and designers need to be acutely aware of the environmental implications involved when designing schemes and sourcing products and should be able to offer clients sustainable solutions. Careful consideration of ecologically sustainable design, energy-saving systems, renewables and recyclables, along with a reduction in the use of harmful chemicals and waste, all allow us to reduce impacts on the environment and create healthier and happier homes.
More ways in which to generate energy should also be appraised, particularly when major work is being undertaken, for example by fitting photovoltaic or thermal panels, ground or air source heat pumps. And smart technology is massively on the rise e.g. app-controlled heating systems and energy-saving thermostats; everyone loves a time-saving gadget!
When sourcing furniture and furnishings, the entire life cycle of a product should be taken into consideration, from raw material extraction to final disposal, particularly in Britain where landfill sites are in short supply and only a fraction of the waste is recycled. A Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) can be used to assess the environmental impact associated with the manufacture, use, maintenance and disposal or recycling of different materials and products. There are several third-party certifications which rate products environmental impact e.g. BRE’s Green Guide, the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute and the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) all guide companies through a continual improvement process to ensure products are sustainable and environmentally-friendly. An increasing number of online stores are environmentally conscious and promote eco-friendly products. By offering or specifying renewable and responsibly sourced materials such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) timber furniture and flooring, bamboo, hemp, sisal carpets or 100% untreated woollen carpets; you and your designer can really make a difference.
Consumers are becoming more inclined to think about whether goods are biodegradable, organic, sustainable, free from toxins, recycled/recyclable and low energy. The irresponsible instant gratification and disposable culture of recent years is slowly being replaced by a ‘buy once, buy well’ mindset. Interior designers must understand the environmental consequences of their choices and ensure that their clients are able to make well-informed decisions about the products and services that they finally opt for. The responsible choices that a consumer makes will drive the market towards a more sustainable future.