For years, the idea of building and designing green spaces only held popularity within certain niche interest groups – agriculturalists, tourism-driven communities, etc. Outside of those areas, environmental impact wasn’t a huge concern. It wasn’t really a concern at all. After all, how much of an effect could something like a home’s interior design have on the environment anyway?
However, as our effect on the environment has become steadily more clear, small, green design companies began to pop up. They offer services that, while keeping with current trends, also focus on the sustainability of their products.
Many green companies are not so small anymore. With more consumers looking to embrace sustainable design, these businesses have been given the chance to prove their worth – and have succeeded. Take a look at why sustainable companies are overhauling the home design industry as we know it today.
They Raise Awareness of Questionable Practices:
You know how every once in a while a news story will pop up that exposes a big company’s questionable business habits? The truth is, these questionable practices are more common than one might think. Major manufacturing companies count on the fact that their consumers care more about receiving affordable products than looking into the reasons why they’re so affordable.
That assumption may be hazardous to your family’s health. Few people realize that formaldehyde is a key ingredient in Urea–formaldehyde, the adhesive resin that holds composite woods like particleboard, plywood and medium-density fiberboard? Similarly, PentaBDE, a chemical most known for its use in pesticides also is commonly found as part of a flame-retardant coating for plush furniture.
A good green designer has been trained to look carefully at the furniture and décor items that they use to fill a space. They know which companies to avoid and will be more than happy to educate you. Before you hire a designer, ask them ask them which brands they support and why. In addition to getting a peek at their sense of style, you’ll get a feel for their grasp on sustainability.
They Work To Better Communities:
The biggest change that these companies are making is that they force us to look at design as more than just aesthetics. No doubt you’re familiar with the troupe that design, even though it’s nice to look at, is not all that important to our daily lives. Green design companies make no bones about the fact that the work they do has a larger impact than just the way a particular space looks.
On a residential level, a designer who focuses on sustainability will likely recommend small changes for your home that will help you conserve natural resources. As an added bonus, these changes will often save you money on your energy bills! (Who wouldn’t want that?)
For reference, according to the 2012 American Society of Interior Designers’s Facts & Figures Report, if every household replaced just one a water-efficient faucet, the U.S. could save 60 billion gallons of water annually. That savings would translate to around 34,500 gallons and $240 dollars in water bills for a family of five. Think of the impact if similar measures were taken through your entire home.
Commercial buildings stand to make an even larger impact. More corporate structures are taking steps to generate their own power through alternative energy sources like solar panels. Some are also opening up their rooftops to urban farming structures, which provide affordable produce to the local community.
They Blend Form and Function:
When the concept of sustainable design started to burst onto the scene about twenty years ago, one of the biggest complaints was that the designs weren’t very, well, let’s just say aesthetically pleasing. Sustainable fixtures like solar panels and rain water filtration systems were bulky, not to mention expensive. Natural fabrics came in an extremely limited array of colors and biodegradable décor items were extremely difficult to find.
Today, however, is a much different story. Those previously bulky solar panels can be built into windows for seamless power generation. Energy-efficient appliances are among the top sellers in stores and companies practically jump at the chance to brag about their sustainably produced items.
It’s only going to get better from here. Sydney, Australia has plans for a 250,000 square meter development to be constructed by 2030 that aims to reduce the city’s emissions by up 60% through gas-powered co-generation electricity plant, a wastewater recycling plant, solar power energy and green rooftops.
Take Inspiration from Green Designers:
If you wart to learn more about sustainable design, feel free to start here. Designers share their best tips (and mistakes to avoid) on how to cultivate interior design that is as stylish as it is environmentally friendly.
- Zem Joaquin: Don’t forget to embrace cross ventilation to make a huge impact on your heating and cooling bills for relatively little output.
- Sarah Susanka: Have an energy audit done before starting a remodeling project to help you identify the ways you can save.
- Blanche Garcia: Do your best to reuse items you already own. Spend money on a piece you may already have.
- W. Brent Swain: Take advantage of south-facing windows, since they will capture the most heat.
Sustainable, or green, design has gained popularity in recent years. Now, instead of being a niche interest, these companies have the power to make an impact. It’s a responsibility they haven’t taken lightly. Green designers are overhauling the industry as we know it. Read above to find out why and we’re sure you’ll be clamoring for an opportunity to be a part of the change.
Would you use sustainable design in your home? Designers, what’s the best tip you can offer to someone who wants to make their home more sustainable?