By following sustainable design principles, designers can contribute to the reduction of negative environmental impacts. As a licensed architecture and interior design firm, we’ve taken an oath to design responsibly and sustainably.
Our culture is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmentally responsible architecture, interior design, and building. As a result, more and more of our clients seek to incorporate sustainable principles in their designs and interiors. There can be cost deterrents and benefits to adopting a sustainable approach to projects, which when done correctly, we feel that the pros negate the cons and result in a giant benefit overall.
Architects and Interior designers have a tremendous responsibility for understanding their potential impact on the sustainability of an environment. There is an equal responsibility as a consumer to select a professional that is a schooled and licensed architect and interior designer. There are many “home designers” and “interior designers” out there that may inadvertently make uninformed decisions that create:
toxic environments (off-gassing);
spaces and building designs that require enormous amounts of ongoing resources to maintain heat, and cool.
Minimal utility, requiring many remodeling efforts over the longer-term vs. creating truly scalable and timeless design solutions.
Licensed Architects can be found on the AIA.org site and licensed Interior Designers can be found on the ASID.org. Licensed professionals can be confirmed in each state through the professional licensing board of the Secretary of State, in GA, http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/.
Principle 1: Design for low environmental impact
At JBB, we believe that designing is a process of achieving:
1. client goals;
2. maximizing utility and the maximization construction/installation efficiencies;
3. and to design solutions that are energy efficient.
Limit Energy Consumption
Energy consumption is one of the major contributors to climate change. Buildings are responsible for a big share of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, caused by energy consumption (EPA).
Because we have good relations with our clients, we are fortunate to get feedback from them long after their projects have been completed. Each project is different. We learn from each one of them and understand the importance of quality construction methods, material selection and mechanical system selection that improve a building’s energy efficiency. Recently, we received feedback from an owner of a 10K square foot building that it cost about $120 to air condition their space in the peak of Summer in “HOT-lanta.” The efficiencies gained are due to the:
exterior design attributes and materials
physical placement of the building and sun exposure patterns
insulation and its installation methods
HVAC system and how they were placed and zoned,
and the window and door systems
Overall, the goal is to reduce the amount of energy needed for heating, lighting, running appliances, etc. and to provide renewable, non-carbon-based energy to the building.
With advancements and the availability of solar panels and batteries for energy storage, we are now working on our first home where we will incorporate a 4000ft2 solar panel field on a roof that will be able to store in batteries and take the home off the grid. We look forward to sharing more about this project as construction progresses through 2019.
Choose materials that are environmentally friendly:
This is my favorite section, and I believe I share this favoritism with many readers because, in the end, it is all the diverse, beautiful finishes available that bring architecture and interiors to life and where each of our client’s personalities really come out!
It’s very important to pick materials and products with the lowest environmental impact. Natural, organic materials (e.g., wood, wool, natural stone) seem the obvious choice. It’s equally important to research how the materials are processed. For example, even though materials may be highly renewable (grow quickly), such as bamboo, the process for preparing the organic material (either mechanically or chemically, but most commonly with chemical processing), has a heavy impact and can be incredibly toxic.
Many licensed architects and interior designers have rigorously studied how to design for low environmental impact designs and spaces. This is very important as a designer can inadvertently use materials that have high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can make people sick, contribute to lower performing employees, and contribute to increased ozone deterioration. Make sure you ask about your professional’s knowledge and passion for researching and specifying healthy materials.
VOCs are emitted as gases from certain materials. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher according to the EPA). Common effects of a high VOC environment are eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system in humans and animals.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products such as carpets, tile, paints, varnishes, waxes, and treated lumber. It’s important to know which materials are being specified.
One of our favorite sources for green products is https://www.greenbuildingsupply.com/About-Us/What-is-Green-Building-Supply.
Next week, we’ll be discussing sustainability principle 2, Limit Waste.