Green, sustainable, eco-friendly and now Regreen. These words describe an industry that is growing while much of the design/build industry is slowing down.
The purpose of sustainable design is to preserve our natural resources and save on energy costs while giving us healthier spaces in which to live.
A surge of media reports are bringing public awareness to green design. Yet it is still a developing industry. I must hang my head as I admit that I rolled my eyes when I first heard a company advertise its product was green. I thought, "I wonder how long this fad will last." I know, shame on me. I judged (wrongly) that it was a new emotional marketing ploy by some desperate company. "It's brilliant!" I thought. "How could we turn our backs on our environment and the well-being of our families?"
As I get better educated on the applications and benefits of green design in everyday life, and as more industries find better, cost-efficient ways to recycle, reuse and lower their emissions, I can now agree that going green is the right and responsible thing to do.
It has helped that my clients are asking about environmentally friendly products. We started hearing terms that I was not previously aware of, like VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These are gasses that are emitted into the air from finishes, glues and the processing of some woods. The gasses are usually chemicals and some can affect your health. So you, the consumer, are steering the design industry to better ground. As research and information is becoming available, we are learning together how to make our world (both inside and out) a healthier and more beautiful place to live.
Although there are many green products flooding our markets and a whole house approach for new construction, the American Society of Interior Designers found a need to apply green strategies to remodeling. ASID, together with the U.S. Green Building Council, has recently released "Regreen Residential Remodeling Guidelines." During a remodel project, we work with pre-existing conditions that are sometimes too costly to undo. These new guidelines help the consumer, designer and contractor make the best possible decision toward making an existing property more eco-friendly. The guidelines are available in pdf format at www.regreenprogram.org.
Going green doesn't have to be an all or nothing approach. If everyone does a little here and there, it will help. Not only are there immediate and healthy benefits with these choices, our children and grandchildren will benefit for years to come.
Here are a few things to consider in your next remodel.
* Utilize countertops that are made from recycled materials, like Paperstone (recycled cardboard and resin) or IceStone (recycled glass and concrete) or natural stone like granite.
* Choose cabinetry with no VOCs.
* Select flooring that has been recycled or can be recycled.
* Check the VOC rating on your paint. Most companies offer eco-friendly paint with low or no out-gassing (chemicals that are gradually release into the air).
* When possible, choose building materials that are manufactured locally, as the energy wasted and pollution generated from transporting these materials is substantial.
One article I read suggests that remodeling your home to make it more environmentally friendly is the new status symbol and a justifiable way to remodel in a tough economy.
Going green takes a lot of research and development by you, your designer and your contractor, but the benefits are sure to pay off for years to come.
Cindy Payne is a certified interior designer with more than 25 years of experience, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, as well as a licensed contractor. E-mail questions to her at deardesigner@projectdesigninteriors .com or send them to her at Project Design Interiors, 2620 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 189, Las Vegas, NV 89109. She can be reached online at www.projectdesign interiors.com.