As an Interior Designer and Landscape Designer I am often confronted with the fact that clients want to realise their dreams from scratch using new furnishings for their home or new landscaping materials to make their perfect garden. So it’s my job to show them there is another way without compromising on function and aesthetics.
Being a greeny
Being green does not mean joining the lentil and flower brigade. Nothing wrong with lentils. I adore them, and I of course love flowers! Just as design need not be either exclusively about either function or form, being ecologically-led need not be drab, old fashioned or inelegant.
There is a lot of information out there, a lot of greenwash, a lot of green people and a lot of green blablabla….. but one has to start somewhere right? I like concise precise information personally- but it is difficult to get and through my own personal experience I actually found out why.
One has to take into consideration so many things from how a material is made, where and how much embodied energy does it have to how well will it perform in its functional life and if it can be re-used at the end of its life (if at all) or recycled if at all. Then you need to add up the pros and cons, does that CO2 release equate or diminish when you make savings somewhere else….etc, etc, etc…..
So there is a lot to consider! Architecturally speaking the sustainable design and making of new buildings is well serviced for information and the Code for Sustainable Homes below does help a lot along with the BRE the developer of key sustainable standards.
The Code for Sustainable Homes
The Code for Sustainable Homes 2010 (CSH 2010) is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes and it aims to reduce our carbon emissions. It is measured against nine categories of sustainable design such as:
- surface water runoff (flooding and flood prevention)
- health and well-being
The code is good for someone like me who often project manages building projects for clients and because I am versed in construction it’s important I keep up with any new findings, technologies and regulations. But we still have no guidelines for domestic interiors design or indeed garden design.
My first Eco project
Three years ago I worked on my first “eco” project – a couple with two children wanted a “healthier” house refurbished and were not sure how to go about it. I was given the time to research and look at materials and processes to ensure this project was as sustainable and green as possible. The hardest work was actually changing the builder’s waste management! But we got there in the end! This first eco project allowed me to learn a lot about the field – and by testing all the materials first and some new working methods and looking at the cradle to grave cycle of all the materials I used I was able to compile an extensive database of what worked and what didn’t as well as the “not sure …” items!
From then on I went on to do a few more of these eco projects and my resources and knowledge has grown and keeps growing as new discoveries are made, new technologies are used and new materials are launched. I also learnt a lot about having a “healthy house” – using the right materials that do not give off gases such as VOC or formaldehyde in MDF or solvents in wood glues, etc… this is part of the interior design process for me now.
Professionals advising clients should all go out of their way to educate, share and advise them on more sustainable materials and methods. There is a lot of information out there on how to build your new home or refurbish it but not a lot of information on green residential interior design or green interior refurbishing.
Next post I will give you a few tips and ideas on how to Reduce, re-use, recycle and reclaim.