December 4, 2008
BEing Green: Eco-Friendly Design
As moreÂ and more consumers become environmentally conscious, they are seeking to find ways to create green spaces at home. And anyone can do it, says interior designer Courtney Sloane, CEO of Courtney Sloane Design. “You can be an apartment dweller or a homeowner,” she adds. “It is all in the sustainable materials you select. Even if your building isn’t architecturally green friendly, your interior can be.”
Going green doesn’t have to be expensive and drab either. “There is a misconception that sustainable design is all about the modern, industrial look, but glam can meet green,” says Sloane, whose client list includes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Disney, Sean “P. Diddyâ€ Combs, and Queen Latifah.
The goal of sustainable design is a lesser impact on the environment.Â Many projects can be do-it-yourself, but for an entire green makeover of your home, consider an interior designer. “My role as an eco-friendly home designer is to work with a client to determine simple and sometimes complex things that can be done in their home to ensure the following principles: recycle, reclaim/reuse, non-toxic, and sustainability,” says Robin Wilson, owner of The Nest Store, an online marketplace offering eco-friendly furniture and home decor.
Wilson has worked on theÂ renovation of President Bill Clinton’s Harlem office, and was awarded Black Enterprise’s Business Innovator of the Year award.
“Designing your home in an eco-friendly manner can be a bit more expensive, but the supply and demand is causing prices to lower,â€ she says. “For example, countertops of bamboo, recycled glass, and paper used to be much more expensive, but they are now in a similar price range as granite.â€
There are various materials now available that can help homeowners become more environmentally responsible. Sustainable materials include flooring from bamboo, cork, and bark, leather, reclaimed hardwood, VOC-free paints (paints which that do not release significant pollutants) and furniture constructed from hardwoods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
“If you use a dual flush toilet, you can save over 60% on your water bill, and the price of the toilet is compatible with a less efficient toilet,” Wilson says.
Replacing appliances with Energy Star-rated models also increases energy efficiency and lowers your energy bill. Appliances that have such a rating meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Before hiring an interior designer, research sustainable design. “It’s best to educate yourself about the materials available beforehand,” Sloane says. “Go online, check out [interior design] magazines, and even visit a green building conference, many of which are open to the public.”
Ask key questions when interviewing designers.
“An eco-friendly home designer should know about practices that include use of FSC-certified hardwoods, non-toxic paints, and have worked on projects that involve multiple levels of high-value options that will save money for clients,” Wilson says.
As with any designer/consultant, you should ask for professional affiliations and references,” says Renee Norris-Jones, an