October 12, 2022
Three Sustainable Design Trends Making a Positive Impact
The fight for our planet’s environmental health is imperative now more than ever. While the COVID-19 pandemic reduced worldwide carbon emissions by 5.2%, 2021’s reopening saw a rebound effect, with energy-related emissions more than reversing the beneficial impact of 2020. We can all look to our own practices to shift the tide, finding innovative and exciting ways to make a difference.

Considering the finding that adults spend about 90% of their time indoors (EPA and Opinium analyses), it’s safe to say that design elements of interior spaces represent a key starting point in the healing of our environment. Implementing sustainable design properties into home, entertainment, and work-spaces also has direct and positive effects on individual wellbeing. In many instances, small adjustments produce large impacts. Here are a few sustainable trends that are easy to incorporate and rewarding not only for our planet, but for our own health as well!

Photo courtesy of Sustainable Sundays
Biophilic Design
Biophilic design refers to the integration of natural materials, colors, and textures into interior spaces; essentially, bringing the benefits of outdoor nature indoors. In practice, this includes using elements like bamboo, stone, wood-grains and cork, decorating with plants and flowers, and even maximizing natural light. Some have even gone so far as to cover their walls in green moss. Foliage, more than just adding beauty to a space, is a natural air purifier, helping to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen for higher air-quality. Furnishings of naturally occurring materials (like wood and bamboo) involve more-benign production processes, releasing fewer chemical pollutants into the environment. The typical open-layout also provides for greater sunlight, which, in turn, saves on energy usage. On top of all of these advantages, biophilic design has been known to reduce stress, anxiety, and sadness, and to promote positivity.
Eco-Friendly Lighting
Lighting represents one of the simplest ways to help our environment: around 15% of global electricity consumption can be attributed to lighting alone. Although turning out the lights when away is a good start, the most effective change lies in the type of light-bulb we utilize. Incandescent bulbs offer very low energy efficiency; only 3% of the electricity powering the bulb is ultimately converted to visible light (with the rest being lost as heat). Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs would mean 75% or 90% less energy usage, respectively. If every American household substituted one CFL bulb in place of an incandescent bulb, enough energy would be saved, annually, to prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to what 800,000 cars would produce. Ensuring that your lighting fixtures themselves are made from responsibly-sourced materials represents an additional step for good measure. One option is to incorporate vintage lighting pieces; this reuse is not just sustainable but adds an unmistakable flare of personality to your space.
Sustainable Walls
VOC (volatile organic compound)-free paint is not the only way to achieve healthy walls: the burgeoning trend of eco-friendly wallpaper symbolizes an aesthetically exciting and environmentally impactful alternative. These wallpapers are printed with water-based inks (instead of solvent-based inks), which contain fewer harmful VOCs. They are also made with recycled paper or other renewable fibers like jute, hemp, or reed. The absence of toxins like formaldehyde and ethylene provides healthier breathing air for family members and pets alike. Most eco-friendly wallpaper is also made to be easily installed and removed, with a stick and peel adhesive. This feature allows for yet further stages of recycling—with the ability to place it in other rooms or to donate it to separate locations altogether, eco-friendly wallpaper is quickly becoming a favorite of environmentally conscious homeowners. Adding the benefit of a wide range of patterns and designs only makes this wallpaper even more of a game-changer.
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