Be kind to your planet during your next interior design project with green sustainable interior design.
Green Sustainable Interior Design Explained
It's been said before, but it bears repeating: the Earth's natural resources are scarce and are becoming more scarce with each passing day. It is for this reason that environmental awareness in the home must move beyond recycling and encompass the whole house.
When planning your next remodeling project, think about the products you are buying. Check to see if those products are environmentally friendly and environmentally sustainable. The first step to having a home that is considered to be a green sustainable interior design is learning what environmental sustainability means.
- The Washington State Department of Ecology's definition of environmental sustainability - "Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
- The U.S. General Services Administration has the following principles for sustainability:
- Optimize size potential
- Minimize non-renewable energy consumption
- Use environmentally preferable products
- Protect and conserve water
- Enhance indoor environmental quality
- Optimize operational and maintenance practices
Environmentally Sustainable Products
- Recycled gypsum board - Also referred to as drywall or sheet rock, recycled sheet rock is composed of waste sheet rock, mainly from construction site removals. Recycled gypsum board will be labeled with a percentage of post consumer materials. For example, the label may read "98% post consumer" or "100% recycled."
- Only buy lumber that has the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label - Buying FSC certified wood products means that you are purchasing wood from forests that are responsibly managed. Responsible management means that the forests are harvested in a way that does not negatively affect local communities, endanger the natural habitats of indigenous wildlife and ensures that the forest will exist for generations to come.
- Paint - All paints contain some level of volatile organic compounds or chemicals (VOC's) that go through a process called "off-gassing." This means that the organic compounds react with either sunlight or heat, creating a fossil fuel combustion. This fossil fuel combustion releases toxic chemicals into the air. Not only is this a detriment to the air inside your home, but outside as well, by creating ozone, which contributes to global warming. There are some paint manufacturers that offer paint with extremely low off-gassing properties:
- Amazon Environmental Inc. - This company recycles old, reusable paint into new paint. Paint that is not determined to be reusable is recycled in to Processed Latex Pigment, which is used as an additive for Portland cements.
- Auro Natural Paints - These paints are made from natural materials such as orange and eucalyptus. All natural materials used in their paints are grown organically and are sustainably managed.
- Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec and Aura line paints - These paints have extremely low VOC's, which contribute to global warming.
- Bamboo - Bamboo matures and can be harvested about every three to six years, making it environmentally sustainable. It is as durable as oak (which can take up to 120 years to mature) or maple.
- Cork - Only the bark of a cork tree, which regrows within a period of six to nine years, is harvested for the production of cork floor panels. Cork flooring is not only beautiful and durable, but it is naturally water resistant and anti-microbial as well.
- Terra Mai Floors - The Terra Mai company produces beautiful wood floors from rescued and reclaimed wood. The company seeks out buildings that are scheduled for demolition and salvages the wood. Other sources of wood are old railroad ties and old bridges. It then uses this wood to make wood floors.
- Compact Fluorescent light bulbs - According to global alerts, every incandescent light bulb produces 100 pounds of CO2e, a carbon dioxide equivalent and one of the top green house gasses. Switch to energy efficient CFL bulbs and decrease your impact on global warming.
- Buy only Energystar rated appliances - These products are designed to consume less energy than products without the Engergystar label.
- Purchase solar water and air systems to reduce your natural energy use.
Being Green is an Ongoing Process
Using earth friendly and environmentally sustainable products in the interior design of your home must be an ongoing process. New products are developed all the time, making environmentally sustainable products more accessible for individuals. It is okay if the change to earth friendly interior design is slow, because any step toward sustaining the environment is a positive step forward.