Determining the Scope of the Project
The scope of the project you undertake will affect the decisions you make about Green Design. We generally view the scope of a project as one of three types of increasing complexity.
- Redecorating – Remodeling an existing room without new construction will be the least intensive. The reuse option is usually larger with existing spaces.
- Re-model – Re-models often open living spaces and require more "new materials", but the potential for re-use is always an option.
- New Home – The design of a new home will likely require more "new materials" than a remodeling or redecoration. This "clean slate" offers the opportunity to incorporate more sustainable design elements, but the potential for a higher environmental impact is also greater if it is not managed.
Determining Project Goals
Once you have determined the general scope of a project, the next step will be to decide what is the main goal of your green project. The objectives will vary from one project to the next but can generally be divided into two categories:
- Reduce the overall environmental impact that your home has. that is, reduce the environmental footprint.
- Creating a healthy living environment free of potential toxins.
It is important to note that these two elements are not necessarily mutually exclusive. However, when deciding between the pros and cons of multiple product choices, it is helpful to keep in mind the ultimate goal.
An example of this tradeoff may occur when redecorating a salon. If your goal is to design a healthy living environment, it may be necessary to replace the old sofa, which is probably made with glues and toxic cushions. However, replacing the old article with new articles is not always the most "green" thing to do, as this creates more waste. A similar project with an impact on the environment can opt for the upholstery of the existing room. Depending on the budget and the needs of the project, this process may encompass the use of organic tissue as well as the padding of the framework to capture some of the benefits of the healthy living environment or it can remain strictly focused on the environmental impact and use a fabric made from recycled materials. materials.
Tips for a Design Focused on Environmental Impact
A good starting point for any design focused on the environmental impact is to take stock of what you already have. The more you can reuse or reuse the less new material you will have to buy, this will both save money and reduce the impact of new manufacturing goods. Here are some basic ideas to consider:
- Have fake painted kitchen cabinets to give them a new look. Replace handles with unique pieces recovered or items made from recycled materials.
- Consider having plated countertops instead of being replaced.
- Upholstery pieces that are not completely bare or that speak to a good upholsterer to alter the lines of a room.
- Reuse old carpets. Old kilims and other carpet fragments can often be washed and cut to make beautiful pillow covers or even used as upholstery.
- Reuse the old fabric. If you have recovered a couch, try using parts of the old fabric if possible on smaller projects.
After having gone through all that you can reuse inevitably, there will be some new pieces that you will have to buy in order to complete your decor. Here are some considerations when buying new items.
- Locate local first. Articles that are produced or obtained at the regional level will generally have a lower environmental impact from the point of view of transportation. The added benefit is that they generally delivered the fastest and support the local economy.
- Look for vintage pieces. No new energy goes into the production of something that has already been done (like transportation).
- Watch out for new items. If it is a wooden object, ask where the wood comes from. Ideally, the item will be made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Certified) certified wood, reclaimed wood or urban hardwoods (trees filled as a result of a storm or for other natural reasons) . If these are not available, look for abundant native wood species that tend to be grown sustainably.
- Although carpet companies have made great strides in recent years to become "green", they still do not match the old natural wool rug. Look for all wool carpets, preferably by hand. Unfortunately, few handmade carpets are woven locally, which means they have to travel distances to get here, but the wool is quickly renewable, anti microbial, naturally resistant to mold and bacteria. If it is maintained properly, a well-made hand-woven rug will last a lifetime.
Tips for an Environmental Living and Healthy Living Lifestyle
When designing a healthy living space, there are a few additional considerations that can be taken into consideration. The designer must first take note if the customer has any particular allergies or chemical sensitivities that will affect the design. Here are some general tips to consider:
- Use organic as much as possible. In case of sensitivity to chemicals, allergies or other health problems, it is always best to use natural components. Today, there are organic options available for most home furnishing products.
- Again, we recommend wool carpets, unless allergy. As noted above, wool carpets are anti-microbial and naturally resistant to mold and bacteria. They also have the advantage of being removed and thoroughly cleaned to remove dust and dirt.
- The use of low VOC paints is recommended whenever a wall covering is required. Most major painting companies offer these now. If possible, use low VOC premixed dyes, as VOCs tend to be added as dyes are injected into the base.
- Look for furniture assembled with water-based glues. Most manufacturers make the change, but the alternative is a formaldehyde base that becomes a gas at room temperature and can "release gas" into your home for years.
- When dyes are used in fabrics and carpets, look for low-impact chromium dyes (or not) or natural dyes. Also called Swiss dyes, low-impact dyes are manufactured with high absorption rates to bind easily to the fiber requiring less dye and minimizing the use of heavy metals. On the other hand, plant dyes are 100% natural to the point where they are stuck with the carpet. There is some debate about the "green-ness" of plant dyes, but in all they are better than standard chromium dyes.
Get Rid of the Old
If you buy new items, you risk getting rid of old pieces. The question then becomes what to do with your old pieces. If they are still useful, try one of the following:
- Give them to the Salvation Army (who will pick them up in many cases).
- Describe them on Freecycle.org if you want to give them
- Sell them locally on Craiglist
- Contact an antique furniture dealer or a consignment store to see if they're interested in buying or selling take the piece on consignment.