Sustainable Interior Design: 8 Steps to Success

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“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”

Barack Obama, Former US President

The world is changing radically and with the innovations happening in the field of technology, artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics… I can hardly imagine a future like the one we’re currently living in today. Out of all the above positive outcomes we’re expecting from the collective human efforts there is one state where we humans have failed miserably. The concern of ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ is the greatest threat to our planet and saving our planet has become the most important subject in today’s times.

While many people around often ask me well Mansi is climate change real? Do we need to do something about this? What exactly is climate change or the most important one What exactly you being an Architect can suggest to us in response to climate change?

While I often discuss with my friends and family about climate change, sustainability issues, government programs, health, etc. and how almost all sectors of our economy whether it is textile or mining; travel or construction all are seeing a dramatic shift with a focus on eco-friendly/ sustainable, greener and smart solutions.  Currently, we’re understanding a co-relation between living spaces, environment, technology, health, and safety and are adopting a holistic approach towards minimizing the catastrophic effects of climate change.

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? ― Henry David Thoreau

While there is no quick fix to our growing concerns on the environment I can assure you that by incorporating some of the sustainable interior design ideas we can develop a snapshot of the best sustainable interior design practices.

  1. Work with a knowledgeable Architect/ Interior designer

Hiring a qualified Architect/ Interior designer is a huge win whether you’re remodeling, renovating, or creating one. With an emphasis on green design, smart solutions, and thorough knowledge on trending yet sustainable-certified materials and innovative products hiring a talented professional can help you in a long way.

If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a professional, several organizations around the world verify the sustainability standards of products/ materials. Choose wisely and always look for the best and the trendiest!

Whether considering a DIY or getting professional help the environmentally-minded systems are critical in understanding the basics of sustainable interior design and will help you in connecting the dots between your home and the globally addressed climate change.

2. Choose the right fabric

With thousands of options available choosing the right fabric with sustainability criteria can become quite confusing. While most of us try to narrow it down in terms of colors, theme, texture, and patterns it is necessary to consider whether the fabric is sustainable or not.

Key points to consider are:

  • Longevity: Fabrics that can last longer should be the first go-to pick option as most of them are durable and are considered more eco-friendly as compared to those replaced frequently. Always consider the maintenance cost of the fabric before purchasing this can add to the sustainability factor.  
  • Chemicals: Did you know that there are roughly 2000 chemicals that can be involved in manufacturing fabrics that are not only harmful to your skin but also can pollute the water and air. Picking fabrics that are certified by industry-based organizations or under government-run bodies assures that the fabric is free from harmful chemicals.
  • Biodegradable: Simply putting biodegradable fabrics are those fabrics that can be decomposed quite easily with minimal effort. There are generally very few chemicals involved in the making and some can even be produced without the need for factory assembly.

3. Super green windows:

Windows are an essential part of our home interiors as they are the major source of natural light apart from doors & ventilators. If properly placed windows not only provide us good natural lighting they can even help us with cross ventilation especially in tropical climates. Having said that windows are generally green and they can be made more sustainable by several means:

Choosing recyclable/biodegradable/chemical-free window curtain fabric/ blinds; use of bamboo (locally sourced), wood made from FSC timber, natural grass, or other 100 % recyclable and renewable materials.

4. Right kind of surface materials

Choosing the right surface materials can have a huge impact on indoor and outdoor air quality, aesthetics, and overall lifestyle thereby projecting better health and surroundings. Materials such as recycled glass, reclaimed wood, countertops made from recycled paper, etc. all will not only reduce the ecological effect but will also add a unique visual appearance to your space. Always pick surface materials after assessing their environmental impact, installation process, and the cost of logistics/ transport before approval.

5. Eco- friendly yet decorative walls and ceilings

There are numerous products currently available in the market that can give an artistic yet environmentally responsible décor to your home interiors. Non – VOC paints, earth-based plasters, wall covers sourced from renewable sources, eco-friendly recycled wall panels, and recycled tiles are some of the options available in the market.

6. Sustainable Flooring

Bringing sustainability ‘Under your feet’ by any of the smart green options available can reduce your home’s carbon footprint significantly and undoubtfully one of the long-lasting implementations.

Hard flooring can be made from FSC wood, reclaimed wood; cork, bamboo, linoleum, recycled rubber; Natural stone; recycled Tile or terrazzo; and Finished in situ concrete. Carpets can be made from wool, organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, and jute, whereas carpet tiles can also be made from recycled content and it is possible to refurbish carpets.

7. Energy Efficient Lighting

Lighting adds drama to interiors and with energy-efficient lighting installed brightening your space can not only reduce the carbon footprint but can also add extra glamour to your home decor space. Ceiling lights, table lamps, floor lights, LED bulbs, dimmers,  wall mounted lights all can be sourced depending on the needs and keeping in mind green logistic practices, technological advances, and conserving electricity through maintenance. 

8. Become a Micro – gardener

Depending on the space you have adding a few organic plants, an interior green wall, or having your garden can make an enormous difference in your sustainability project. Plants not only improve the quality of air but can also give you fresh ingredients for your cooking and medicinal purposes. While high-performing indoor plant species provide the opportunity to improve indoor life integrating smart sensor networks and computerized technologies could lead to a postmodern version of interior eco-architecture.

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