In today’s world, the concept of sustainability has gained popularity in almost all fields, including construction and interior design. The growing need for environmental conservation can be one of the critical reasons for this popularity. To reduce the impact on the environment, many homeowners and developers have started opting for sustainable interior design.
This environmentally-conscious approach to interior design makes natural resources a part of the design. Many companies, government entities, and non-governmental organizations are embracing and applying this sustainable design philosophy. By showing a great sense of responsibility, these organizations prefer a significantly reduced consumption of natural resources.
This article explains the concept of sustainable interior design and its significance in various aspects.
Sustainable Interior Design
In simple words, sustainable interior design refers to consciously creating a home focusing on resource conservation and protection, waste reduction, and environmental and human health. Sustainable interior design improves building performance by attempting to reduce negative impacts on our environment and the health and comfort of people.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program has defined the key parameters to evaluate sustainability. They are:
- Energy Efficiency
- Water Efficiency
- Quality of Indoor Air
- Innovation and Design Process
- Material Selection
- Sustainable Site Development
Essential Aspects of Sustainable Interior Design
The following aspects of sustainable interior design incorporate the above parameters into its fundamentals.
Energy consumption is one of the most severe factors impacting environmental deterioration and climate change. Most contemporary residential structures consume vast quantities of electricity and produce greenhouse gases, which are extremely dangerous to the ozone layer. Interior design can significantly decrease this by reducing emissions and the energy required for lighting, heating, cooling, and running appliances. Natural lighting, the right colors, and effective insulation can significantly reduce energy consumption. While blinds and shades can help monitor the light, curtains and drapes can work as insulators restricting cold air and the sun’s heat outside. On the other hand, carpets can retain as much as 10 of a room’s heat, while using lighter colors on walls with reflective skins can help brighten up a room and decrease the necessity for artificial lighting.
Using non-toxic and non-polluting materials having a low environmental impact is another fundamental principle of sustainable interior design. While using organic materials like wood and stone might be the egregious answer, one must also consider their scarcity and varying rates of renewability. As a result, materials and resources must be chosen carefully, considering their extraction, manufacturing, transportation, processing, and disposal. Fast-growing bamboo is one similar substitute that’s swiftly renewable and extracted sustainably. Internal pollution is also responsible for laying a huge strain on the surroundings because of the waste produced and the emissions from conventional materials and paint. The use of eco-paint, frequently made using clay and starch and designed to contain lower quantities of unstable organic chemicals, along with cork flooring and bio-glass, can greatly reduce environmental impact.
Water conservation is also a critical need for sustainability now, owing to the current extensive water crunch all over the country. As such, water efficacy must be a crucial part of sustainable interior design through the operation of built-in water recycling systems and tools, having safeguards in place to prevent wastage, and so on. One of the best ways of doing this is by installing rainwater storage systems that recycle accumulated rainwater for household use.
A water-use feedback system is also an excellent way of assuring consciousness about the need for water conservation by giving residents real-time feedback on their water use. In addition, installing no-leak valve systems, drip irrigation systems, pressure regulating devices, high-efficacy nozzles, and low-flux toilets and washrooms can help residents save as much as 50% of their day-to-day water consumption.
Sustainability in Style
Owing to the emergence of numerous new technologies and manufacturing processes, sustainability no longer has to compromise on interior design’s stylistic or aesthetic value. Today, cork and bamboo floors are also available in different colors and textures, using nontoxic stains and materials. As a result, they aren’t only as visibly impactful as conventional rustic floors; they’re substantially more durable and, as a result, create a much lower impact on the environment.
Today, numerous brands are working towards developing a wide range of recycled, environmentally conscious materials, which are also smart. For example, PaperStone products, made from 100post-consumer recycled paper and anon-petroleum resin, are quickly replacing conventional options and are used to create beautiful countertops, sinks, adorning accessories, and more.
Lastly, furniture plays one of the most significant roles in interior design, impacting a house’s aesthetic and functionality. As such, to make the interior of a house eco-friendly, it’s a must to ensure that only furniture made using natural wood or other organic or sustainable materials is used. These can be made using any materials used for something else earlier and have since been recycled or re-purposed to create new furniture. While fast-growing bamboo has become the top choice for sustainable furniture materials, recycled metal, plastic, rattan, cork, and industrial waste are also top choices.
Understanding the 4 Pillars of Sustainability
Sustainability focuses on resource preservation and refers to four key areas: human, social, economic, and environmental.
1. Human sustainability incorporates developing skills and human capacity to assist and encourage the well-being of communities and society.
2. Social sustainability focuses on preserving resources for future generations and acknowledging how actions impact others. It also focuses on maintaining and enhancing social quality with concepts like cohesion, reciprocity, and the significance of relationships between people.
3. Economic sustainability refers to the ability of an economy to support a specified level of economic production indefinitely. If social sustainability aims at improving social equality, economic sustainability focuses on improving the standard of living.
4. Environmental sustainability focuses on enhancing human well-being through the conservation of natural resources. Initiatives and programs are considered environmentally sustainable when they make sure that the needs of the people are met without the threat of compromising the needs of upcoming generations.
The 5 Rs of Sustainability
By using these key principles, interior designers can enhance the eco-friendliness of any home. Recycling must be used as a last option after trying to refuse, reduce, reuse, and repurpose. Before disposing of your materials, try the following steps:
Learning to refuse items may require some practice to get into; however, including this step in your house is the most efficient way of minimizing waste. Remember to refuse to buy wasteful and non-recyclable products.
Reduce the application of harmful, wasteful, and non-recyclable materials. Always attempt to use the minimum amount needed to avoid unnecessary waste. You can try to concentrate on reducing single-use plastics by not purchasing food items with excessive plastic packaging.
Single-use plastics are the creators of a “throw-away” culture that promotes using materials only once and then throwing them away. To reduce waste, attempt to reuse items rather than buy new ones.
Try repurposing items that cannot be refused, reduced, or reused. Interior designers generally refer to this method as upcycling. Sometimes it demands using some creativity; however, when it comes to upcycling interiors, there are endless possibilities.
Last but not least – recycle. Once you have gone through all of the above R’s, recycling is the eco-friendliest waste disposal method. If your house doesn’t already, begin collecting cardboard, paper products, and organics.
Examples of Sustainable Design
Designers are always coming up with ideas that help create a sustainable future. On a large scale, these can be things such as wind turbines and solar-powered lighting in commercial spaces. On a smaller scale, environmentally friendly interior design can include various aspects. Some of them can be using energy-efficient, sustainable materials like furniture made from recycled resources such as reclaimed wood and non-toxic, friendly materials such as organic cotton.
Reclaimed wood furniture is a great example of an eco-friendly interior. Using existing wood to design interiors rather than purchasing brand-new ones helps reduce the demand for new logging. This has a long-lasting effect on the environment since more trees won’t be cut down to make furniture. You can make interiors eco-friendly and durable through a responsible and energy-efficient way of using recycled products and green building techniques.
Importance of Sustainability in Interior Design
Sustainability has a crucial role in interior design. New construction provides opportunities for interior designers to create eco-friendly designs from scratch. Using energy and thermal modeling can make a building more comfortable while improving energy efficiency. Interior designers can reduce the requirement for electrical lighting by considering the amount of natural light entering into internal spaces in that home. In interior design projects, any interior designer must determine efficient and effective use of available space, and select construction materials that deliver low environmental impact, waste, and energy consumption. This can enhance the health and well-being of the built structure while reducing costs for the clients.
Whenever you are planning to build a new home or other structure, don’t forget to opt for a sustainable interior design!