“I became much more aware of what’s happening environmentally over the course of many trips to Costa Rica, a country with a lush, yet delicate ecosystem,” says interior designer Courtney Sloane, founder and creative director of Alternative Design Inc. “It’s so beautiful; you want to preserve it, and being green starts to feel like a very natural thing to do.”
Sloane founded New York City-based Alternative Design in 1993. “I started out consulting and then finally felt that I had enough knowledge to branch out on my own,” she says. With her multifaceted design studio, Sloane has found success in interior design, branding, and marketing for clients such as Vibe magazine, the hit television show America’s Next Top Model, Disney theme parks, and private clients.
With an increasing awareness of eco-friendly living, Sloane and her employees offer sustainable design to clients, a topic to which she is finding a welcoming response. “We do not do solely green design; but we do our best to employ it in our designs, and we are very much at the forefront of bringing it to our clients,” says Sloane. “It is still very much about education at times.”
To help broaden the firm’s services, two of Sloane’s employees are currently pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) training to enable them to develop projects that can be LEED certified—a set of standards for environmentally sound building, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. According to the McGraw-Hill Construction Green Homeowner Smart Market Report, the market for green homes is expected to rise from $2 billion to up to $20 billion over the next five years.
Sloane continues to expand her business as plans are in the works for the opening of her first retail store, Sloane Square—scheduled to open later this year in Jersey City, New Jersey. The store will be a lifestyle boutique, complete with furniture, accessories, and even a cafÃ©.
Although a rocky economy might scare some entrepreneurs off the idea of expansion, Sloane is keeping her worries to a minimum. “Yes, we’re concerned, but concerned is different from paralyzed,” she says. “Having been in business for 15 years, we know that being bullish—being aggressive during tough times—really pays off on the
Sloane and her team offer ways to green your home and its dÃ©cor:
- Carpeting: FLOR is a carpet tile made from recycled fibers that come in a variety of textures, colors, and patterns. Consumers can install it themselves, remove tiles to clean spills or make repairs, and promptly replace them. www.flor.com
- Paint Paint that’s free of (or has minimal) volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has low odor, uses natural materials, and is offered by a range of manufacturers, including Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, and specialized companies such as Green Planet Paints. Such paints can serve as an eco-friendly way to bring character into your home, but keep in mind that the process of painting may differ from traditional paint.
- Lighting: Although compact fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient,