Making it Easier to be Green
Green design includes energy conservation, but that's not what it's all about. It's about having good air quality both indoors and outdoors, making the environments in which we work, live, study and play healthier and more comfortable and conserving all of our natural resources.
This site will provide a balanced, holistic view that includes advice about saving energy, water and other natural resources, improving indoor air quality, using environmentally responsible design and construction techniques and minimizing waste.

I will be focusing on interiors for three reasons:

  • We spend about 90% of our time indoors.
  • Buildings in the United States annually consume about 30% of our total energy and 75% of our electricity.
  • As a New York State Certified Interior Designer and a LEED Accredited Professional, I want to share my knowledge and expertise with you.
Sustainable design and construction can be done in many different styles and using a wide variety of materials. There are examples of healthy, sustainable, comfortable and inviting interiors for commercial, not-for-profit and residential clients on the web site for Interior Design Solutions.
You can use the labels on the sidebar to locate entries that you want to read. For instance, most people might want to look at the entries for "Green Homes," but "Green Finance" would be of more interest to professionals involved in the design, construction, management, financing and marketing of buildings.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The ABCs of LEED - Materials and Resources

One precept from the great minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe that applies beautifully to sustainable design is “Less is more.”  When those of us who specialize in green design use this phrase, we’re not referring to style, but to the use of materials and resources.  There are four basic precepts to conserving materials and resources, all of which begin with an R – recycle, reuse, regional, and renewable.

Storage and Collection of Recyclables

Recycling materials that can be reused is so important that the U.S. Green Building Council has made storage and collection of recyclables, including paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastic and metals a prerequisite in order for a building or an interior project to achieve LEED Certification.
Tenant Space, Long Term Commitment and Building Reuse  
In many cases, the greenest thing that you can do is to avoid or limit construction.  LEED recognizes this by encouraging people to find space that will serve their needs for a long time (and to commit to a long-term lease) and that needs relatively little reconfiguration (to limit the need for demolition and new construction).

Construction Waste Management, Resource Reuse, and
Resource Reuse – Furnishing, and Recycled Content

LEED encourages limiting the materials that wind up in landfill by salvaging or recycling construction, demolition and packaging debris. The standard encourages the reuse of building materials from the original building (for example, refurbishing and reusing existing hardware) or other buildings (for example, using paneling or beams from a resource specializing in architectural salvage).

LEED also awards points for reusing furniture that you already own and / or purchasing used furniture.

Recycling only works if the materials saved are then used.  It has become relatively easy to find high-quality attractive construction materials and furnishings with high recycled content. LEED awards more points for recycling post-consumer materials than industrial materials.

Regional Materials and
Regional Materials, Extracted and Manufactured Regionally

The further things travel, the more energy is used for transportation, so a project can earn LEED credit by using materials and furnishings that are manufactured locally, or better still, manufactured locally from materials extracted locally.

Rapidly Renewable Materials and Certified Wood

LEED encourages the use of rapidly renewable materials instead of those that take time to mature. Trees take a long time to grow, whereas bamboo can grow a foot a day and cork (which is the bark of cork trees) can be harvested every year without damaging the trees.  Wheat not only matures quickly, the material used in buildings can be a by-product of producing food.

While the United States and most of Europe have high standards for forest management, many other countries allow trees to be clear-cut.  Clear-cutting rapidly depletes a valuable natural resource and causes problems with erosion, floods, climate change and air quality.   A project can earn LEED credit if at least half of the new wood used is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 

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