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.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Environmental Impact of Laundry Equipment

Your choice of appliances can significantly impact your environmental footprint. For example front-loading clothes washers save quite a bit of water and energy, and because they use much less detergent they can reduce the harmful impact of laundry wastewater on ecosystems.   

The entries for the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon combined sophisticated cutting-edge technologies with simple, practical measures to achieve minimal environmental impact.  While other aspects of the design and construction of the houses varied widely, every entrant used a front-loading washing machine in order to save energy and water. And a young man from Purdue University proudly showed the jurors a "husband-proof washing machine" that automatially dispensed the right amount of water and detergent based upon the size each load of wash. 

Front-loading washing machines are normally more expensive than top-loading models, but they are much easier on both your clothes and the environment. Because front-loading washing machines have no agitators, you can do more laundry in a single load and avoid twisting your clothes. Top-loading washing machines waste water by filling up the tub twice, once during the wash cycle and again during the rinse cycle. Front-loading machines use sophisticated wash systems to flip or spin clothes through a stream of water and rinse clothes with repeated high-pressure spraying instead of soaking them in a full tub of water. Many of them have sophisticated sensors to monitor both water levels and temperatures.

Front-loading machines can save additional energy by reducing drying time.  Their spin mechanisms typically spin twice as fast as a top-loader canm so there's less water left in the laundry at the end of a drying cycle.  The "husband-proof" washing machine in Purdue University's Solar Decathlon house even has a special cycle for small loads that can eliminate the need to use a clothes dryer.

Most clothes dryers use quite a bit of energy.  If you are purchasing a new dryer, consider one with a moisture sensor in the drum that will automatically stop the drying cycle when the laundry is dry. And if you're not replacing your dryer, simple steps like only drying full loads and keeping the lint trap clean can still save energy. 

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency(CEE), a not-for-profit consotium whose members include many utility companies, rates washing machines from Tier I to Tier III based upon a combination of energy efficiency and water usage.  The chart on CEE's web site is updated monthly. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Recycling Toxic Things Does Not Make Them Green!!!

I just received yet another email for a "green" product that does much more harm than good.  Those of us who practice sustainable design share a concern with what we call "greenwashing." But the only way to make this particular product truly green would be with a heavy coat of paint.

The company recycles billboards to make products for interiors --- floor coverings, furniture, and even placemats.  But their web site proudly points out that the products are very durable because the billboards they use are vinyl.

Vinyl products are very, very bad for people's health.  And it's not just because the manufacture of vinyl releases carcinogens into our water and air.  Products made with vinyl can be harmful to your reproductive health and your endocrine system.  And the harmful substances that continue to release into the air from vinyl products also can affect even your unborn children.