Designing Sustainable Housing

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sustainable design is often referred to as environmental design or environmentally conscious design.  The idea of designing with sustainability in mind is nothing new, but it has recently become a significant trend within the interior design community.

When you look at the construction of antique furniture and compare it to what is on the market today, the construction is significantly different.  It was made to last. In the last century we have changed our thinking in terms of design and home furnishings.  Furniture used to be viewed as an investment; it was something that was kept for a lifetime, and often passed on to future generations.  In more recent years our furniture has become almost disposable, we buy furniture and plan to keep it only a few years before trading it in for the latest style.

The idea of sustainable design looks at three different factors. One the overall quality of the item purchased, the materials used to create it and the environmental impact of the product.

You will pay more money to purchase durable products that are designed to last, but in the long run you will come out ahead and so will the environment.  Consider where a product is made and the quality controls in place during manufacturing.  Looking at how a product is physically constructed will help you to understand the difference between comparable items, as externally products can look very similar.

This idea transfers beyond furniture and really extends to all materials we use to construct and decorate our homes.  To design sustainably, the raw materials used must be easily renewable.  They must also be non-toxic materials that will have little wasteful impact on the environment when they are eventually disposed of. Examples of this would be bamboo.  It is now being used for just about everything, bamboo grows at exceptionally fast rates each day, allowing for a sustained harvest.  It is bio degradable and durable.

Each time something has to be manufactured it takes energy.  The environmental impact of manufacturing is something to think about. Is the company producing the product committed to reducing pollutants? Are they taking steps to ensure that their employees have a safe work environment with as few toxic fumes as possible?

When building and designing sustainably, your home and its contents will maintain their value.  Depreciation will not have as significant of an effect on you.

Next time you do renovations, or are trying to decide on furniture for your home, think about sustainability.  Put quality into your home.