Why You Should Be Seeing Green
Green is more than a color that connects us to many elements of the earth. It is a philosophy of living and thinking that is consistent with the very ideals at the core of the ASID organization — “People dedicated to design in the service of people.” Who better than designers to face the challenges of the future and help guide the consumer through the maze of green to provide for our current and future environment?
The definition of “providing for our children” is changing. What if our children face challenges that bring us back to the very core of human existence — the need for basic necessities like clean water for drinking, fuel for heating, energy and water for growing crops? What if our homes and buildings make us sick just by occupying them?
Interior designers have joined the global conversation concerning the impact of design on our local and global communities. By employing conservation strategies now, we will be “… meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (1987 Bruntland Commission’s definition of sustainability)
The reasons for “going green” are varied, but ultimately benefit the client’s bottom line. A building that uses less energy, less water, and sends less rain water to the storm system saves money. A building constructed with durability strategies will require less maintenance over the life of the building and save money. Environments are healthier and more comfortable with fresh air exchange, low emitting materials, and comfortable temperature and light.
The residential market has responded to the success of the commercial market transformation to green standards. According to ASID’s Interior Design 2016-2017 Outlook and State of the Industry the influence of environmental protection on interior designers and their projects is likely to increase over the next three to five years. Minnesota homeowners, designers, and contractors have several green building programs to choose from: LEED for Homes, Minnesota GreenStar Remodeling, Minnesota GreenStar New Homes, Minnesota Green Communities Checklist, and Green Built Home.
All of green building programs share common goals: energy efficiency, resource efficiency, site sustainability, water conservation, healthy indoor environmental quality, education, and innovation. They all consider the economics of green: up-front costs versus long-term return-on-investment. They all consider the social impact of our choices. They all focus on the building as a system, recognizing that products are used to create a system, but do not define the system. A building is not unlike the body — no one component in the system acts separately, but rather in a complicated array of interactions.
Energy efficiency is the nation’s greatest energy resource — we now save more energy each year from energy efficiency than we get from any single energy source, including oil, natural gas, coal, or nuclear power. The Alliance to Save Energy estimates that if we tried to run today’s economy without the energy-efficiency improvements that have taken place since 1973, we would need 43 percent more energy supplies than we use now (43 quadrillion Btu). What’s more, increasing America’s energy efficiency is the quickest, cleanest, and cheapest way of meeting our energy needs.
Green Materials and Resources
Sustainable or green design has been defined as the practice of using products and materials that increase the efficiency of building resources, such as energy and water, while reducing the building’s impact on the environment.
Consumers have the ability to work with ASID designers to select materials and the components that can make a direct impact upon both the health of both the people occupying those spaces, and the environment as a whole. In addition, sustainable design requires ASID designers carefully consider the life cycle of materials and resources specified for a project – providing consumers more value at the end of their projects.
With all of the products available today claiming to be green, finding and identifying actual green materials can be challenging. An ASID designer can guide you through key principles used in sustainable design.