Environmentally Sustainable Interior Design
Our clients are becoming more and more conscious of the potential environmental impact their interior design may have. We have recently completed a project where the home is entirely reliant on natural ventilation, which is something that we are getting more questions about from clients with the growing costs of electricity and increasing negative impacts on the environment.
Collectively, we are beginning to hold each other more accountable for our environmental impact and as designers and builders of residential homes we are seeing an increased concern from our clients. They are not only coming to us with questions but also with information and case studies as there is so much information available at their fingertips being technologically connected to the world in regards to this topic. People in general are asking questions about sustainability not only in their own home but from professionals in every area, including interior design.
Ways in reducing environmental impact at home
There are many ways people can limit their environmental impact when it comes to interior design, starting with embracing the natural elements and working with them instead of against them and relying so much on man-made / easy fixes. For example, taking advantage of natural lighting and ventilation. This fits in with the beginning stages of interior design when we work on spatial layouts, window and skylight placement and the type of window openings. Using sustainably sourced and/or recycled materials such as recycled timber or bricks.
Looking into water and energy consumption of appliances and fixtures, there are many options available now in regards to plumbing fixtures (toilets etc) to washing machines that are performing really well in the sustainable space. Any reduction in power consumption from the grid is a bonus, which in WA is still largely generated using fossil fuels.
Designing with sustainability
The design phase is crucial in planning the best interior flow where light and ventilation are concerned. Site visits prior to and during construction are important to ascertain if there are any limitations that restrict design. Neighbouring fences and trees should be considered before finalising interiors when it comes to size and position of windows and how they affect light, ventilation, colour options and outlook.
Products and materials that have ratings attached to them can assist a client with selection, to achieve a more minimal impact on the environment. Products like laminates and MDF come with E ratings, E0 having the least impact on the environment, which can help narrow down selections to a more environmentally friendly choice.
Timber products come with FSC ratings. Reconstituted timber veneers with FSC ratings are made from sustainable forests and are a great substitute for endangered species of trees.
Plumbing fixtures have WELS ratings, generally a minimum of 4 star Wels is a good guide. Appliances also have Star ratings attached to them, which can help narrow down selections.
Interior products and materials are having an increased demand to be more sustainable, sometimes it is not only the materials that you use but how you use them to minimise wastage, a holistic approach in selecting materials will provide the best design outcome.
Weststyle’s Environmental Responsibility
As designers and builders we hold a lot of environmental responsibility, we are the link between the client and their end product, their home. We liaise with suppliers and contractors during the process to make sure we are delivering what we have committed to. We ensure that we are using sustainable materials where we can and reducing material wastage. Wastage is a key element which is always considered as part of our approach to interior design. This applies to sizes of benchtops, number of tiles etc. For example we will typically design benches to approximately 1000-1200x3200mm which ensures that one stone slab can be used, therefore reducing wastage. If there is a need to cut into a second slab then we will design accordingly by utilising the leftover material in another area. Running the same benchtop material up as a splashback not only looks aesthetically cohesive but is economical.
Window treatments are very important when it comes to passive solar design and the orientation of rooms. Light colours and reflective block out materials are great for minimising heat transfer. East and west facing rooms should have window treatments that minimise heat in summer, but deciduous trees can help where a window treatment may not be desired. Curtains, blinds or shutters can also help keep a south facing room retain warmth in winter.
The Weststyle team consists of architects, designers, schedulers, estimators, builders and others. We are fortunate to have skills in areas such as design, quantities, construction and we all work together to ensure the best outcome. We also engage an Energy Consultant which allows us to quantify the actions taken to achieve efficiency utilising approved rating systems. The best designs are those who have considered not only the energy performance of the space but do so beside conforming with the Client’s design brief and budget. The benefits of designing with sustainability in mind include reduced ongoing running (utility) costs, building healthier homes and minimising your carbon footprint and your impact on the environment.