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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Green Cleaning and Greenwashing

I recently read an article in The New York Times entitled "As Shoppers Reduce Spending, Green Loses Allure," which turned out to be about shoppers' growing reluctance to pay a premium for cleaning products that have green labels but that are produced by major manufacturers of non-green products. The article goes on to say that smaller companies that offer exclusively green products are actually gaining market share. So perhaps what we're dealing with is at least partially a growing consciousness of greenwashing and distrust of unsubstantiated green labels. I'm not suggesting that major manufacturers are not reducing toxic chemicals in their greener products, but since the "recipes" for such products are proprietary, they are really asking potential buyers to take that on faith. Endorsements of cleaning products that are not based on tests by independent laboratories (or on full disclosure and scientific analysis of every ingredient) are meaningless, regardless of the prestige of the organization providing such endorsements, and are considered greenwashing. Although specialty brands might also keep certain things private, the fact that they make nothing but green products tends to inspire trust.

Green cleaning for commercial and institutional buildings is widely accepted, and the trend to use green cleaning products is growing. It's not because the owners and operators of such buildings care more about their occupants' health and well-being than people care about their families. It's because manufacturers of commercial cleaning products can, and do, voluntarily submit their products to highly respected independent laboratories for testing. Purchasers of products approved by Green Seal or Greenguard are assured that specific potentially harmful ingredients do not exceed certain levels.

For decades, if not longer, mothers of small children have said "Don't put that in your mouth; you don't know where it's been." As I pointed out in an article that I wrote for Sustainability: The Journal of Record, the old adage can be applied to what we put in our interiors, as well as our mouths. To a large extent, it is possible to clean house with things like baking soda, vinegar and lemons. So why pay a lot of money for something that you can't also use to prepare a meal?

As a professional interior designer who has always been concerned with the health and safety of my clients, I have often put locks on under-sink cabinets when there are small children in the home. But as a LEED Accredited Professional who specializes in indoor environmental quality, I now realize that highly toxic cleaning products do not belong in a home.


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