Sustainable design is also applicable to interiors. While the architect will initially address sustainability in the building’s design, the interior designer is accountable for addressing sustainability in the interior build out. Choosing materials, finishes, fixtures, furniture, and equipment that are environmentally sound is an important part of your interior designer’s job.
Sustainable Design Principles
While the practical application varies among disciplines, some common principles are as follows:
- Low-impact materials: choose non-toxic, sustainably produced or recycled materials which require little energy to process
- Energy efficiency: use manufacturing processes and produce products which require less energy
- Quality and durability: longer-lasting and better-functioning products will have to be replaced less frequently, reducing the impacts of producing replacements
- Design for reuse and recycling: “Products, processes, and systems should be designed for performance in a commercial ‘afterlife’.
- Design Impact Measures for total carbon footprint and life-cycle assessment for any resource used are increasingly required and available. Many are complex, but some give quick and accurate whole-earth estimates of impacts. One measure estimates any spending as consuming an average economic share of global energy use of 8,000 BTU per dollar and producing CO2 at the average rate of 0.57 kg of CO2 per dollar (1995 dollars US) from DOE figures.
- Sustainable Design Standards and project design guides are also increasingly available and are vigorously being developed by a wide array of private organizations and individuals. There is also a large body of new methods emerging from the rapid development of what has become known as ‘sustainability science’ promoted by a wide variety of educational and governmental institutions.
- Biomimicry: “redesigning industrial systems on biological lines … enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles…”
- Renewability: materials should come from nearby (local or bioregional), sustainably managed renewable sources that can be composted when their usefulness has been exhausted.
- Healthy Buildings: sustainable building design aims to create buildings that are not harmful to their occupants nor to the larger environment. An important emphasis is on indoor environmental quality, especially indoor air quality.