Picture a court scenario where the environment is suing the culprits of environmental degradation. Buildings are probably not among the first that come up to the stand to face trial. However, buildings, both residential and commercial, are responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Looking at current population growth trends, the problem has room for growth. The good thing is that; there is always room for sustainability. Interior designers have immense power to determine the sustainability performance of a building in the early phases of design.
In the past, the interior design profession has concerned itself with one-dimension practice- to provide aesthetic enhancements to interior space for clients. It focused on fashion, luxury design and the beauty that meets the eye. Interior designers primarily focused on clients’ preferences, needs and cost somewhat neglecting energy saving and emission reductions as well as environmental pollution.
However, in recent years’ interior design practice has seen a dramatic shift with design strategies geared towards promoting healthy and sustainable environments for individual’s to work and live in. Society is beginning to recognize and appreciate the interconnectedness of buildings, people and the community in the creation of an environmentally responsible built environment; clients are beginning to understand their role and impact on the environment.
Interior designers can address some of the greatest environmental impacts of the building by specifying materials and products that benefit both the occupants and the environment. It is about creating interior environments using design principles such as functionality, accessibility, and aesthetics with a focus on people and the planet. Sustainable interior design helps reduce energy consumption, pollution and waste.
How to embrace sustainability in interior design?
Many collaborate with interior designers or even have their own designers in their projects. Although the environmentally sustainable interior design has become a major issue with which interior designers make sustainable choices, the real practice is still limited. The problem is they do not design for energy efficiency, low environmental impact nor waste reduction.
It is important that the choice of hard materials that make up the interior architecture are specified with the lowest possible environmental impact such as natural wool insulation in a loft space, locally quarried stone for a kitchen floor or formaldehyde-free plywood for a decorative surface. These will have a less impact on the environment while at the same time displaying the beauty of a place.
Implementing low energy lighting scheme that individually and collectively accommodates each task or pastime being carried out in space will not only help create a welcoming atmosphere but will help reduce eyestrain while at the same time-consuming energy thoughtfully.
Window treatments maximize the natural light entering the space while providing maximum insulation. As for the furniture, consideration might be given to whether an existing piece can be given a new lease of life with some careful restorations or re-upholstery to avoid sending it to landfills which eventually damage the environment.
The benefit of sustainability in interior design
The whole purpose behind sustainable interior design is to preserve the environment and avoid the depletion of earth’s natural resources. When sustainable practices are made throughout each phase of the project development we: reduce emissions, conserve water, conserve and restore natural resources while at the same time reducing waste.
In additions, a lot of economic benefits come with it. by using sustainable material and, reducing energy consumption and improving water efficiency the ‘green market’ is given room for expansion, operating costs are greatly reduced and the life cycle of the buildings’ interior is optimized while increasing property value.
Social benefits are often ignored while looking at the positive results of embracing sustainability. In practicing sustainable interior design, comfort and health of occupants are improved, it also created an aesthetically pleasing environment thus boosting productivity. Moreover, the strain on local infrastructure.
Sustainable interior design, indeed the design of any kind, along with conscious consumption is a future necessity if we are to achieve sustainable development goals. Conscious interior design can help conserve energy, reduce waste and pollution and create a more positive interior environment that is better for overall health.
Sustainable interior practices are better for the planet, the economy, our well-being, and the future.