Our Blog
February 28th, 2014

Is Sustainable Interior Design Possible?

Healthy & Sustainable

There is much misconception when it comes to sustainable interior design. Sustainability as a concept goes much farther than using LED lights and installing green walls. As a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Accredited Professional), I have been trained to incorporate green standards for interiors. However, LEED does not always look at all aspects of sustainability. There are three main pillars including Economic, Social and Environmental issues which dig much deeper below the surface and can only be achieved if sustainability is ingrained in the client’s core business model. As an interior designer I see it as my ethical responsibility to make our clients aware of the issues of impact our industry has on our environment, culture and behavior. At the same time it’s quite amazing how an interior can have the power to change the way people act, feel and think in their spaces. Interior designers are like puppet masters in their own creation. Imagine a restaurant with large windows where each person was given a separate screened off enclosed space equipped with an armchair earphones and a charging station. Now imagine the same space with one large communal table with bar stools and loud music. Same space but two completely different functions that people will automatically react to the given design. Studies by Gensler show that the poorly designed workplaces amount to $330 billion per pear in lost productivity. Educated and trained professional interior designers can improve productivity thus enhancing economic sustainability. Some ways can be by providing increased indoor air quality eliminating sick building syndrome, maximizing daylight, specifying ergonomic furniture and designing layouts that provide more collaboration or acoustic control and specifying low energy lighting and energy saving equipment. Socially, interiors have direct contribution towards health and community. For example, making a beautiful internal staircase between two floors of an office or retail space will encourage people to walk and exercise more. Also, selecting low emitting materials and providing integrated fresh air ducts will increase the air quality. Connecting with the community gives people a sense of place. Allowing for areas of customization allows users to personalize their space and connect with others such as community boards and integrated social media concepts. Lastly, environmental sustainability focuses on how an interior can have the least impact on our planet. Positive energy impacts are also achievable by connecting to alternative power sources such as wind and solar. Within the design stage, we look at specifying materials that come from shortest distances from the site, reducing energy consumption by increasing insulation and using LED lights, specify low energy equipment for ventilation and for appliances as well as reducing the amount of water needed by catching rainwater to water plants and using low flow fixtures. We also stress on recycling and minimizing our demolition waste. Some of our most successful projects have been less than 400 sq ft with tight budgets. So in our eyes it is never an excuse when large corporations claim that their space is too small or they don’t have sufficient budget. At the end of the day the idea is to help save MONEY in the long term. Successful projects are achieved when our Clients truly understands what sustainability is, and by working with the right collaborators that will execute the job correctly. Have we been able to create a truly sustainable, positive impact or net zero interior? My answer is no. And I have yet to see one myself. However, our team is committed in raising the bar each and very time we encounter a new project as we believe that true creativity makes an impact for the better. Rowena Gonzales Liquid Interiors, Co Founder & Creative Director www.liquid-interiors.com http://www.stylebyasia.com/is-sustainable-interior-design-possible/