Going Green: Tips for Interior Designers
1. Establish your principles.
3. Start with yourself.
5. Fix specification guidelines.
During each project’s schematic design and research phases, begin exploring product options that will fulfill your sustainable criteria. Some questions that can help guide you:
* What type of long-life, durable products and materials will work?
* Are their recyclable, reclaimed, or salvaged products available?
* Are there materials with low-embodied energy that are durable enough for use?
* What local materials can you use? (Regional materials require less energy and resources to transport to job sites.)
6. Find green vendors.
Once you have identified your aims, find products and manufacturers that meet your green guidelines. When it comes to furnishing and fabrics, consider smaller firms and custom manufacturers who are traditional builders— they may already have some eco-friendly practices in place, and/or may be more able to incorporate sustainable elements. Also, don’t forget to consider antiques and collectibles, as by using already-made items, you are recycling and eliminating a manufacturing process.
7. Start the process early.
One of the most difficult aspects of doing interior “green” design is getting others in the project to go along with you. One strategy is to attempt to be involved as early on in the project as possible, so that you can broach the subject of sustainability at the onset, hopefully in the schematic design phase. Address the subject with the client, the architect, and the contractor. Remember, every bit helps, so do what you can— even if you only get buy-in on some points, that is better than none.
8. A little education goes a long way.
Green education can take many forms, from just talking to clients about green solutions, to discussing green solutions with team members, to asking environmental consultants to conduct seminars with your contractors, so that their carpenters and trades people might learn new, healthier, and better ways of doing things.
9. Build a network of collaborators.
As you begin to work with an eye for sustainability, you will identify those architects, contractors, and others who are also interested in and caring of the environment. Together, you can seek out opportunities to collaborate.
10. Share your solutions.
Too often eco-friendly practices and information remain imbedded in single individuals and offices, rather than shared with peers and colleagues. The result? Practitioners waste time re-inventing the wheel. Instead, create an archive of green solutions that can be used intra- and inter-office, so that both interior designers and the profession can progress.
Adapted from Turning Green: A Guide to Becoming a Green Design Firm, written by Associates III, in conjunction with the American Society of Interior Designers.
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