Posts Tagged ‘green’

Sustainable Ideas for Interior Designers

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

As interior designers, there are many things that we can do to increase sustainability and lower the environmental footprint of clients’ projects.  By selecting our materials thoughtfully and giving careful consideration before buying completely new products, the project can become both green and efficient.  Of course there are the obvious suggestions of using low-VOC paints, installing dimmers on lights to reduce energy usage, using renewable resources, and investing in Energy Star appliances, but there are many other ideas that can make a major impact on carrying out your project as sustainably as possible.

  • Use local manufacturers and vendors.  This is beneficial for several reasons.  When you use local products, the resources that would otherwise be used to transport items from one country, state, or city to another are greatly reduced, as is the time that it takes in shipping.  Shipping materials create pollution in their production and waste in their disposal.  The amount of shipping materials necessary for local shipping is far less than that for cross-country freight.  As we attempt to become less fuel-dependent, it is also an important benefit that far less gas and fuel is used in shipping when you’re just going across town rather than to a different state.  Using local vendors and manufacturers also pumps money into the local economy and helps small businesses.
  • Look to antique stores rather than showrooms full of brand new furniture.  Antiques have already been manufactured so their environmental footprint is now minimal.  If they are not sold, beautiful antiques could end up discarded, adding to overflowing trash dumps.  By shopping antiques, you will again find yourself helping the local economy and reducing the impact that manufacturing has on the environment, while also creating a home full of character and history.
  • Stick to the old adage Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.  Look at a client’s current pieces and see what you can do to make these pieces work in a new room.  Sofas, ottomans, and other upholstered pieces can be recovered.  Wood furniture that is looking a little worn can be painted or refinished.  Take the fabric or trim from drapery and make accent pillows or upholster a vintage chair.  The initial manufacturing process releases so many pollutants and uses  so many materials, that simply repurposing what you have can make a dramatic difference in the carbon footprint of your project.  While the cost may not be substantially different, the sustainable result is.

These ideas will help your project get on the right track towards staying sustainable.  The end result will not only be just as gorgeous as your other designs, but both you and your client will feel great about the lack of  negative impact that your work has on the environment.

Green Workplaces, Productive Employees

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Are you thinking about an office renovation? Looking to spruce up the workplace?  If so, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of introducing green elements into the new design of your office.  Many people consider the idea, then dismiss it, wondering if it’s really worth the extra research and potential cost.  Turns out, it may pay off to devote a little extra time or money on going green.  As studies are showing, green offices lead to more productive employees.

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, it was reported that in a building with natural lighting where and when
available, natural ventilation to supplement air conditioning, and improved air quality, employees had, on average, an additional 39
hours of productivity a year.

To break this 39 hours statistic down, here are a few observations from the study:  Allergy sufferers reported that the hours they spent affected per month by environmental allergies decreased by more than half.  Employees reported the number of hours they felt stressed or depressed decreased by a little under a third every month.  Decreasing hours lost to allergies and poor mental health led to less days lost to absenteeism and illness.

Some opinions argue that these statistics are simply due to a placebo affect, that employees feel better about their health and going to work when they believe that their employer is looking out for their well being.  Regardless, the productivity hours speak for themselves. When employees are in a green workplace, they are happier and healthier.

Wondering how to most increase productivity with green changes in your workplace?

Use natural light wherever and whenever possible.  Seat employees near windows and keep those blinds open.  Turn off the interior lights when it is possible to work by natural light. When it is absolutely necessary to use office lighting, use energy star approved lighting. Knowing that their lighting is having a positive impact on the environment will improve employee morale.

Improve ventilation and air quality.  Use fans, open windows, and use the vent setting on air conditioning units.  While it may seem
counter-intuitive to let outdoor air in on the way to improving allergies and health, it actually has proven beneficial for employees.
By filtering the stale office air out, dust allergies are greatly reduced.

While the positive effects on the environment should be enough reason to go green anywhere, the improved productivity in the workplace is surely an added incentive.  The best part about going green in the office is that you can completely overhaul your office with low VOC paints, sustainable furniture, and carpets free of chemicals, or you do something as simple as letting light and air in.  Just knowing that you care about the environment and about your employees will make your office a happier, healthier place to work.