Interior Design shares aesthetics, livability, usability and health to creates spaces for Responsible Design thinking and practice. Thoughtful planning for the optimal use and benefits of light, energy, tactility, energy, wearability & durability, recyclability, health aesthetics and budget is indeed a supreme challenge. But the rewards are multiple.
To live or work in such a space is a joy. An artistic expression that combines long-term use, low-embodied energy, natural and resilient materials, innovative ideas that highlight the full spectrum of colour, comfort and use in domestic to commercial situations. SRD aims to help, inspire and educate the best ways to achieve the optimal solutions.
Material selection thinking deserves good consideration in all design fields as materials make a significant impact on indoor health quality and for reducing environmental impact or greenhouse gas emissions by choosing eco preferable products. EcoSpecifier is a database set up to help architects, designers, builders and specifiers shortcut the materials sourcing process. (Original Ecospecifier was a joint initiative of the Centre for Design at RMIT, EcoRecycle Victoria and Society for Responsible Design) www.ecospecifier.com.au
Appropriate Product selection and Certification
helps to add many values to interiors. Certification systems for environmentally preferable products are mostly beneficial and genuinely helpful but be wary, as some are self serving. Here’s a good list to start off with and try to always do some independent research of your own. www.ecospecifier.com.au/certifications/
EcoLabel index covers them all for better product selection and certification If you can’t find your mark locally, review the 465 odd at EcoLabels Index for detail on nearly every eco label and certification schemes out there. Review basic data free or pay for in depth. www.ecolabelindex.com
- Use all materials sparingly, particularly non-renewable resources Old growth timbers, metals and precious stone are finite resources, for which better alternatives exist.
- Select materials from renewable or recycled sources Recycled materials are now more available, as are renewable materials like straw based particle boards.
- Consider the offgassing properties of some materials Formaldehydes in boards/textiles, benzene and toluene in paints can increase indoor air pollution.
- Use products & furnishings which have considered their life cycle impact Look at office chairs and similar that can be disassembled for recycling to keep them out of landfill.
- Strive for a ‘look’ which is not just a fashion statement Appropriate design will ensure that materials and products will have long years of use.
- Use energy efficient appliances and fittings to save energy and reduce environmental footprint Compact fluoros and halogen lights use minimal energy while curtains and draft stoppers retain heat
- Use materials which will aid in passive solar design Floor tiles and concrete slabs, for example, in sunny winter rooms absorb and reradiate heat at night.
- Use natural ventilation Spaces can be cooled down in summer and rooms ventilated against indoor air pollution
- Make sure specifications address all the eco qualities you are want for your design e.g. specifying timbers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
- Design an eco deconstruction spec. when renovating or relocating so that materials are not wasted Often no-one knows what to do with site materials, such a spec. means they taken offsite responsibly
- Start a library of eco-products and materials in your office library for others to use as well Clients are often inspired after handling samples of eco-products. Help educate peers by example
- Keep yourselves up to date on eco-design issues Use SRD Ideas and other eco resource lists and certification schemes to keep up with latest issues
- Select products and materials which create a healthy indoor environment Avoid wall to wall carpets by using hard surfaces with floor rugs which can be easily cleaned and aired
- Select water efficient products to save this precious commodity Specify low flow or automatic cut-off taps and fittings, insulated tanks and pipes, quick boil urns, etc.
- Promote the benefits of energy and water conservation to clients While upfront costs may be higher, longer term use actually saves clients big money
- Consider increasing the amount of natural light into spaces to reduce need for artificial lighting In usage and correct placement of windows, internal partitions and colours of walls/surfaces improve lighting
- Specify timbers which they have ensured come from long term renewable sources Timbers recognised by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and others that are certified as sustainably harvested
- Select ‘pure blend’ textiles, which are most suitable for the job they have to perform 100% blends make for ease of recycling, better still select a material which has already been recycled
- Select fabrics which have come from a more sustainable source For example, DesignTex have a line made from organic ramie/wool dyed with non toxic dyes
- Avoid the use of chemically treated fabrics Moth and stain proofing treatments can impact on both environmental and personal health
- Consider installation of energy saving devices Such as movement and light sensors for artificial lighting in offices and home to reduce energy use
- Specify low Volatile Organic Compound emission paints Plant or mineral based products emit less VOCs, which can contribute to Sick Building Syndrome
- Use materials for presentation boards which can either be used again or recycled Avoid styrene boards which can be difficult to recycle and conserve samples for further reuse
- Prepare working drawings on A4 & A3 paper or digital files on disks for easy copying Consultants or contractors don’t need all the details on an large wasteful sheets
An insightful review of many aspects of responsible decorating and design thinking. Living simply with good things. Helen Edwards at recycledinteriors.org
Housing for Health – the guide, will develop to be the directory for anyone in the world wanting to improve any environment-related health issues by giving detailed guidance on designing, building and maintaining the living environment to improve safety and health. www.housingforhealth.com (Pic 1)
You never know just what you can find at The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre. An environmental charity and cooperative committed to reducing waste going to landfill. Shops in Marrickville and Parramatta sell furniture, appliances, household goods, salvaged building materials, bikes, books and more. It’s a treasure trove of delights with new items arriving daily and all at very low prices. Sydney, Au bower.org.au (Pic 2)