You don’t have to be building a new home or tackling a large renovation to make your home more environmentally friendly.
These are spaces that focus on improved health and comfort. According to the Canadian Green Building Council, people spend about 90% of their time indoors where pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoors. No longer a trend, sustainable design is becoming standard practice in interior design.
Making even small changes can save money and increase efficiency while protecting the environment.
Did you know standard incandescent light bulbs are being phased out and banned in Canada? Switch to low wattage LED, which can last over 24,000 hours. The initial investment is quickly offset by electricity savings. Warm white LED creates a comfortable, natural feel. Take advantage of natural daylight by turning off lights. Natural light improves well-being and regulates our internal clocks (circadian rhythms), resulting in better sleep. Consider dimmers, motion sensors or timers to reduce energy consumption even further.
Energy Star rated appliances ensure less energy use and lower utility bills. Using a programmable thermostat generates savings for heating and cooling.
Depending on your location, windows can provide views to nature, which can reduce stress and make us feel calm and relaxed. Bring the outdoors in with indoor plants. They help clean the air, getting rid of harmful, toxic contaminants. Look for low maintenance greenery like succulents, rubber trees, jade and snake plants.
When sourcing new products such as flooring, furniture or cabinets, natural, durable materials like wood, stone and granite are best. Some composite wood and plastic products should be avoided, as they may contribute to poor air quality, contain carcinogens, and lack durability.
Reduce waste by finding a new use for something that no longer serves its original purpose. Some popular examples include using reclaimed, salvaged barn wood to create an interesting feature wall, or refurbishing old furniture using chalk paint.
Use the sun to help heat your home in the winter and keep it cooler in the summer. Open window treatments on south facing windows during the winter to bring in heat from the sun and give your furnace a break. During summer months, window treatments can block out the sun’s strong rays and reduce heat gain.
You may not be aware of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but they are chemical air pollutants found in paints, sealers and adhesives that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Products that “off-gas” can produce strong, lingering smells and can cause headaches, nausea and trigger asthma or respiratory conditions. Use water based paints and sealants that are low or zero VOC to keep the air clean. Carpets, composite woods, and upholstered furniture may also contain VOCs.
Recycling is a simple way for everyone to reduce raw material consumption. Look for products containing recycled content from paper, glass, plastics, metals and more.
Support local, community businesses and request interior products that are Canadian-made. Handmade or custom pieces from local craftsmen create a unique, personal statement. Buying local reduces pollution from shipping, especially forforeign products.
Save water by installing low flow fixtures (e.g. faucets, shower heads, toilets) in kitchens and bathrooms.
Follow these guidelines to responsibly help preserve the natural environment for future generations while enjoying a progressive, healthy and comfortable home.
Fanshawe offers both the Honours Bachelor of Interior Design degree program and the Interior Decorating diploma program.
With over 10 years of experience in the interior design industry, Meghan Mastronardi has been teaching in the Honours Bachelor Interior Design program for over five years. Currently the Program Coordinator, she holds a Master of Interior Design degree, a Bachelor of Interior Architecture degree, is an NCIDQ Certified Professional Interior Designer, and also a LEED Accredited Professional.
Creativity is intelligence having fun.