Understanding Green Interior Design, Denver-style!
Environment conservation has become a necessity. Today’s homeowners want to be environmentally friendly and they commonly request homes which are designed for sustainability and for the health of the occupants.
This is especially true in Denver, a city that is leading environmental efforts. Our city is so green that we were rated the fifth greenest city in North America and we earned the highest scores for both energy and environmental governance, according to this Siemens study.
As a green Denver interior designer, I make my best efforts to integrate concepts of green design in my projects. Here are ways green design can be infused into spaces.
Biophilic design is the practice of designing spaces where we live and work in such a way that we re-establish the elemental connection that we have with nature. Benefits of biophilic design include reduction of stress (stress-related illnesses are increasing at a rapid pace), improved health and well-being, and enhanced cognitive performance and creativity. It enables the creation of spaces where humans are happier, healthier, and more productive.
To get the full benefits of this design style, it has to provide consistent and regular exposure such as increasing the views of nature, improving natural light, creating healthy spaces, and providing adequate ventilation. Natural materials such as living and preserved plants, stone, bark, and wood can be used in the design.
Examples of biophilic design include facades of buildings or large spaces within buildings featuring hanging gardens (literally giving the building a green color), indoor plants (for fresher air), and the creation of a water body. Beneficial effects of exposure to nature are enhanced when it creates multiple-sensory stimulation—so it is ideal to design spaces in an all-inclusive manner to achieve optimal results.
You’ll quickly see that our Denver climate allows for great biophilic designing. This trend is very popular in commercial design and is just coming into residential.
By decreasing the amount of energy required for lighting and heating, and switching to the use of renewable, non-carbon based energy, negative environmental effects can be significantly reduced. Inefficient use of carbon-based fuel causes the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.
There are various choices in lighting and heating that designers can make to contribute to environmental sustainability. Using natural light from our wonderful Colorado sun, and lighter wall colors or reflective surfaces reduces the need for artificial lighting and also keeps spaces cooler. Installation of high-quality windows and window coverings help regulate the temperature of a space.
The shift to energy efficient LED light bulbs decreases energy usage. Carpets and rugs help to absorb and thus retain heat during winters. Opting for a “cool”, reflective roof as well as solar roofs helps to reduce your intake of summer sun. And, the use of eco-friendly smart home devices can significantly reduce environmental impacts.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Designers can maintain the quality of air by choosing right materials and ensuring that the space is properly ventilated. Indoor air pollution is caused by toxic emissions from products, chemicals or materials used in fabrics, furniture, paint or any other item of home decor. When designing a Denver green home, you don’t want gases to usurp that fresh mountain air!
It is important to choose materials with low emissions of VOC (volatile organic compounds). Air circulation is important for air in a space to remain fresh. Designers should prioritize air circulation when planning the layout of a room. Integrating ceiling fans; plants, which are natural filters; and carpets, which trap dust, in the home decor are some ways to improve air quality. Also, choosing eco-friendly paints and cleaning products will reduce toxic footprint.
While one could contribute to water conservation by making personal habitual changes in that direction, water can also be significantly conserved through elements of home design. And this is crucial as we see depletion of Colorado’s groundwater to alarmingly low levels.
Replace inefficient toilets, shower heads, and leaky taps with newer models which conserve water. Install water saving timers and water usage monitors. For outside, you could also use more locally adapted plants or opt for xeriscaping to reduce the usage of water. Adopting rainwater harvesting techniques is also a good idea to conserve water.
We can contribute to resource conservation with the use of upcycled materials and recycled materials, waste recycling and recovery, reduction of waste generated, and better waste management.
Organic materials which have been treated responsibly such as wood, wool, and bamboo have a minimal environmental impact. Glass tiles can be made of 100% recycled content, terrazzo up to 95%, and ceramic tile up to 70%.
We should create durable spaces using high-quality materials and aim for longevity. Many of our local Denver upcycling facilities offer high-quality building materials that are more durable and often luxurious than mass market new products. From reclaimed brick to salvaged doors, you’ll find high-quality pieces to reuse on your Denver design project.
In addition to green projects, I do my best to be environmentally responsible in my daily life and encourage my family to do so as well. Environmental conservation is the need of the hour. We can only make a positive impact if humans make cohesive efforts towards this goal.
Call me at (720) 735-7533 to discuss your green project today!