Learning to Design “Green” Spaces

Learning to Design “Green” Spaces

>Nowadays, it seems like everywhere you turn you’ll run into a product or service being touted for its eco-design and “green” functionality. While the trend to create more environmentally friendly goods and services is certainly a positive one, it’s important to understand what exactly people mean when they use the term “green.”

As the design community has become more involved in incorporating green spaces into their design philosophy, they’ve come up with a few guidelines to help them think about making interior design more sustainable. To help you understand this blossoming green movement, the team at Education.org has put together a small guide to help you familiarize yourself as you explore the green design space.

What is LEED Certification?

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, “LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”

LEED is such a popular certification framework because it is a flexible platform that can encompass both commercial and residential buildings and focuses on the entire lifecycle of a building from design and building through maintenance.

What’s a Good Example of Real-World Green Design?

According to The New York Times, one example of a building that uses its design elements to achieve greater efficiency is the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado. The building illustrates how something as mundane as office space can achieve a powerful degree of efficiency, without compromising its aesthetic elements. By incorporating renewable energy like: solar on the roof, and a fresh-air intake device that cools the building’s data center while appearing to be a courtyard sculpture, the structure seamlessly uses its form to improve its functionality.

What is Energy Star?

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy combined forces to create Energy Star. Energy Star certified homes meet strict efficiency guidelines and are at least 15% more efficient than homes built to 2004 IRC code, all told, these homes are often 20-30% more efficient than standard homes. There have been over one million Energy Star homes built to date in the United States. The government notes that an impressive $270 million has been saved collectively from utility bills within these Energy Star homes.

What are Some Eco Interior Design Materials?

There are many excellent options available to the modern interior designer interested in reducing his or her carbon footprint. Bamboo is one such material because, as a grass, it’s a quickly growing renewable resource that can be repurposed into everything from flooring and walls to furniture and textiles.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.” Interior designers couldn’t agree more. Many eco-designers are repurposing salvaged items for interior spaces to great effect. By reusing found items, designers can achieve a range of looks from “industrial” to “rustic” without outputting all the energy required to fabricate and ship newly customized pieces of metal, wood, and glass.

Where Can I Study Green Design?

The good news is that there are a lot of design programs focusing on sustainability these days. The Parsons New School of Design in New York City’s famous Garment District is a highly regarded design school that offers both a BA and BS in Environmental Studies. The BA and BS degrees each combine coursework in the natural sciences, design, and social sciences to educate their designers on a holistic approach to green design.

With a focus on resource conservation and ecology, as well as urban and sustainable design, the program offers students a way to understand design’s environmental implications within a larger conservationist framework.

Click here to find more schools that offer programs in Green Design

Related article: Green Interior Design Tips

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