Small Changes, Environmentally Friendly Designs
Environmentally friendly, green designs using sustainable materials are becoming more important and more popular. There is a lot that we each can do individually to protect our environment, and now, let’s begin with some mall changes that lead to sustainable and healthy design in our homes.
Improving Air Quality
When it comes to paints and glues, many of us can recall noxious odors, some from early childhood. Too often, these products contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were environmentally unhealthy and even toxic, especially to pets. The same is true for flooring, which would use materials containing the pungent-smelling formaldehyde, or CH₂O. Even though formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound, it is also a known human carcinogen, as cited by Wikipedia and the National Toxicology Program.
Fortunately, alternative paints are now available from many large companies, without the toxic effects of some of the older paints. These newer products offer the same quality as before, and with no or low VOCs, they’re better for our air. Alternative materials are also available for both vinyl and carpet. These materials are more environmentally friendly because they minimize emissions of gaseous adhesives.
Design to Minimize Environmental Impact
Forests are essential for a healthy planet. That’s why some furniture companies source their lumber from specific areas where trees cannot be preserved, and they track the location of this lumber until it is made into furniture. If you’d like to support these worthwhile efforts to minimize our environmental impact, look for the FSC label on the wood when ordering furniture.
Using easily renewable materials, such as cork and bamboo, is another great way to increase the sustainability of your interior design. Both cork and bamboo grow rapidly, and they replenish faster than other materials.
The process of transporting materials for manufacturing purposes emits a lot of carbon and can be unhealthy for the environment.
Fortunately, when done right, locally sourcing the materials minimizes fuel requirements, thereby minimizing carbon emissions as well. This is why we find that sustainable materials are often locally sourced.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
When removing an existing structure, we can salvage and preserve the material. This is important because materials such as glass can be reused to make countertops or other durable surfaces. Reuse and recycling minimize the destruction of valuable resources, so it may be worthwhile to consider recycled materials in your next project.
Finally, a quick note about aesthetics. Whenever possible, it’s helpful to bring in flowers or plants, giving the room an organic, outdoorsy feel. Plants are pretty, of course, while also fostering healthy air quality and calmer, healthier people.
If you want to play your part in saving our planet, while designing a healthy home environment in the process, contact Dafna Adler, a LEED GA certified designer who can offer expert advice. Schedule a complimentary discovery call to discuss your next environmentally friendly design project today!
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