Friday, June 29, 2012

Designing Green - The New Black

We have a responsibility to sustain if not enhance our earth’s natural environment and our nation’s economy for future generations
Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs We can do this by:
      Limiting Resource Depletion
      Avoiding Environmental Degradation
      Preventing Habitat Loss and Extinction
      Working to Control Sources of Waste
which goes hand in hand with….
      Utilizing Materials that are recycled or that can be reclaimed and reused so they don’t end up as waste in our landfills and instead have new life  
How can we make our earth Sustainable for future generations?
By Designing Green today!
Designing Green is becoming so popular today that I call it “the new black”!
So how can we “Design Green” today?
1. Designing Green Is Using Rapidly Renewable/Sustainable Products that grow quickly – have a 10 year life cycle or less and that we can easily replenish - without using up the world’s natural resources
- Some sustainable/rapidly renewable products are: bamboo, cork, linoleum, natural rubber, straw board and wheat board
- All solid surface products and all quartz products are also sustainable!
- We can purchase Certified Wood which is wood grown in a sustainable manner under the auspices of the Forest Stewardship Council which means that every time we cut down a tree, we replant another one but NO WOOD is Rapidly Renewable because to date we haven’t figured out how to grow a tree back within 10 years or less
 2. Designing Green Is Using Sustainable Fabrics such as linen, hemp, wool, silk, cotton, soybean, bamboo  - These fabrics are made from high quality natural sustainable fibers which are better for everyone and better for the environment as well
 3. Designing Green is Repurposing used things!
We have a problem today- so many broken/discarded items end up in our landfills – Repurposing is the answer.
What does repurposing mean?
Repurposing” is using things for a 2nd time and giving them new life -  converting them from their original use which is no longer viable into something new, different & totally wonderful that people will use and also keeping those items out of landfills
A. Repurposing” is re-using Recycled and Reclaimed Materials
What is the difference between recycled and reclaimed?
-Recycled means crushing/breaking down an item and making it into something else such as glass being crushed and made into kitchens countertops or backsplash/border/wall tiles
-Reclaimed means re-using something exactly as it is , for a 2nd time – such as finding used stone tiles in one home and using those tiles again in another home
When we remodel or redecorate a home, many used items such as used wood, used steel pipes used glass, used brick and other used building materials, end up in a rubbish heap –we need to recycle and reclaim those items instead
And when we redecorate another home, rather than only use new items, we need to incorporate some of those reclaimed items into our overall design schemes        
B. Repurposing re-using Antiques/Used furniture/artifacts/architectural elements
It    Items such as old doors, old brick, old stone, old wood, old hardware, old artifacts and Antique Architectural Elements such as Antique/used columns and Antique/used fireplaces that come from buildings that are being remodeled or dilapidated buildings that are being torn down. These pieces are being discarded /thrown away and would otherwise end up in landfills.   Re-using them is giving these items a new life! And combining two used pieces is a double good green thing to do!
What are some things we can do to re-use them?
      1. Restore them to their original splendor as we have been doing for centuries
      2. Paint/Strip/Bleach them to give them a fresh look
          Painted covers a lot of ills, so you can instantly cover over whatever marks and stains   
         were on a piece and make it look new
         Today, dark wood finishes are not that popular, so stripping a piece and refinishing it in a
        lighter finish or in white or black or bleaching them,  can update it tremendously
      3. Combine 2 used pieces or mix old and new parts on one piece to create a new more
          exciting piece that becomes a focal point and add interest to a room
          Sometimes a used piece is either severely damaged or just ugly, boring an/or out of style
         and won’t be popular as it is no matter what finish it has
         Such a piece can often be dramatically improved by using part of it, and combining that
         part with another new or used section of piece such as taking an old table top and mixing
         it with a different more interesting base  be it old or new, (or vis versa) which adds      
         interest and creates an exciting “new” piece
 C. Repurposing is finding a new use for items that no longer have one  such as industrial  machinery parts, old newspapers, old paperbacks, old steel pipes, used bowling alley flooring and discarded chain link fences
       -We can take discarded items from a trash heap and create amazing things
        -Combining a lovely old table top with a used machinery part base creates an
        amazing “new” table.
       - And creating a table out of a used chain link fence or a used conveyor belt, or creating a
        headboard   out of a discarded bridge railing both creates new exciting “one of a kind”     
        items designed in shapes and textures that couldn’t be found using anything else and keeps     
        those discarded items out of our landfills
   -We taking this one step further, such as a work of art made from a collage of used
           paperback books
         - If we use our imagination, we can make something beautiful out of almost any discarded
D. Repurposing is using items found in nature such as shells, driftwood,petrified wood stumps and storm felled trees and conveting them into furniture and accessories
We now realize that anything and everything can be repurposed!
4. Understanding how to Design Green is a complicated thing
     If an item has to be shipped from far away,  (wasting energy to get it from one place to
     another)  or requires a lot of energy to be created  then it has a large carbon footprint
       and it is not as “Green” as a similar item or substitute item  found locally  near where you
       will be using it
       So items that would otherwise be “Green” such as Seagrass, or Sisal, or Jute are not as 
      “Green”   as we thought they were,  if they have to be shipped long distances from where
       they are made  to their ultimate destination which is to your client’s home
      Conversely something that is built locally and is created by hand without expending a great
      deal of energy, has a small carbon footprint and is Green
      So what is Green to one person in one location may not be Green to another person in a
      different location!
5. Designing Green is buying the Best Quality you can afford
      When we purchase good quality merchandise, it lasts many years
      When we buy inexpensive merchandise, much of it is meant to be thrown out after a few
      years and repurchased  - made with what we call build in obsolescence
     These items then end up in our landfills so are not at all “Green”
6. There are various shades of Green
    We are just learning how to design Green – so Designing Green is a process …
    And there are various shades of Green – meaning that there are various degrees of what is
    considered “Designing Green” and they all work…
     Some clients love the industrial look and want to incorporate repurposed products that
    utilize industrial machinery parts throughout their home while other clients don’t like that
   look at all
   Whatever degree you and your clients choose to “Design Green”,  it is better that doing
   I am an Interior Designer/remodeler who specializes in Green Design. If you have any questions or comments, please email, call 713 269-6909 or visit our website!


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