5 TIPS ON CREATING SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR SPACES

Eco-friendly design is often considered costly or too technical. Fortunately, it always does not have to be this way. Here are 5 simple and impactful ways that can make your next project more eco-friendly.

Fri Jan 15, 2021

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE DESIGN?

"Sustainable development is that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs"

It has been the talk of the town for years now, and you probably have a faint idea of what it means, although for the sake of starting from square one, let's first understand what sustainability actually means:

Sustainable design seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment, and the health and comfort of building occupants, thereby improving building performance.


HOW IS A DESIGN MADE SUSTAINABLE?

There are 5 important factors to create sustainable spaces: conserving energy, recycling, improving human health, conserving water, and reducing waste.

Essentially sustainable approach starts from the moment the concept of the design starts taking shape. A more conscious approach can be taken in every aspect of the building, from digging the foundation to finishing with furniture and decor pieces.  Although, for the sake of this blog post, we'll consider this approach from the perspective of practical interior design considerations.


There are 5 important factors that make up the Sustainable Approach:

 1. Conserving Energy: The lower the energy involved in manufacturing, transporting, installing a material, the more sustainable it is. Why? Because to produce more energy, we'll need to burn more coal/crude oil, which leads to more environmental pollution.

2. Reusing and Recycling: If something can be recycled, go ahead and do that! Recycling means less waste lands up in the landfill. Plus don't we love the unique look re-cycled items bring to our spaces? 

3. Improving Human Health & Comfort: Especially after the pandemic, this has become a prime necessity! The materials, layout, finishes etc. of the space should cater to healthy well-being of it's occupants.

4. Conserving Water: Well, there is nothing to explain here. The hard truth is that we are running out of water. It isn't hard to imagine a future where water will become one of the prized resources on planet earth.

5. Waste management: Efficient segregation and management of waste so that it does not end up in landfills is the key.

ECO HOUSE, KOTTAYAM

Adjudged amongst the top 4 projects in India in the Green Building Category at FOAID 2020.

The Eco House is a project that has applied the sustainable approach throughout, from the initial conceptualisation, construction and finishing to interior works and decor. Designed by sustainable design firm Elemental which is headed by Ar. Amrutha Kishor, a LEED Green Associate and GRIHA Certified Professional.

Let's learn how the sustainable approach was applied in 5 different ways to the interiors of the Eco House


1. LACK OF FALSE CEILINGS


While pursuing her Masters in Architecture from the University of Nottingham, UK, Amrutha became acutely aware of how the waste from the buildings accumulated at the landfills. Although Gypsum can be recycled, that infrastructure is still not available in the country. 80% of gypsum board (out of which false ceilings are made) ends up in the landfill. 

To solve this problem, spaces to add the lighting fixtures were cast with the concrete slab. This not only saved money, and prevented waste to be generated, but also helped her with really great ceiling heights!


2. USING LOW VOC PAINTS

VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds that are really harmful for humans. One of the tenets of sustainable design is to make spaces that improve human health and comfort. When buying paint look for the manufacturers label for low VOC. All major brands now manufacture low VOC paints and market them as "Green" or "Sustainable" products. Asian paints has Nilaya Naturals and Berger Paints has Breathe Easy for example.



3. USING AERATORS IN FAUCETS

Aerators are fixed in faucet nozzles and work by mixing air with water and creating the illusion of more water flow while actually conserving water. 

It has been noted that aerators can save upto 50% water compared to traditional systems. What's more, it isn't costly at all! In fact, most major brands have already started offering a wide variety of fixtures that have aerators in-built!



4. USING HIGH BEE RATED APPLIANCES

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency regularly reviews appliances for their energy efficiency and gives them star ratings which we've all seen. The higher the star rating, more the efficiency! Now the concern here is that higher rated appliances cost more. So what should a designer do?

Essentially, one should opt for higher rated appliances and equipment when they're supposed to be used a lot. Think of the refrigerator which runs 24x7, now cutting costs here would mean having to pay higher on electric bills throughout the appliances life which eventually makes it costlier. 

So the tip here is to choose wisely, equipment like fans, refrigerators etc. should ideally be highly rated to conserve more energy. 


5. USING VINTAGE ITEMS

One of the essential factors for sustainable development is to reduce usage. Reusing something that has been already produced is a more smarter approach than to create something new. Here, vintage console units and bookshelves have been re-furbished to add a charming look while still getting points for a conscious eco-friendly approach.


WANT TO LEARN MORE ON PRACTICAL & SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN?

Today more than ever, the world needs designers who can think sustainably. Sustainable design does not have to be costly, difficult to implement. Clients of the 21st Century understand the importance of  saving the environment and would love to start incorporating a practical and sustainable approach. 


KEY LEARNINGS

1. How to approach a Sustainable Interior Project

2. Analysing and selecting appropriate materials

3. Working to improve human comfort in the space and making it healthier

4. Learning how to efficiently manage water and energy in a practical manner.

5. Understanding GRIHA rating and how to get it.

LEARN MORE