header-area-background-wrapper Login

Interior Design and Sustainability

9 May 2017


“Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity” – Ralph Bicknese

The rapid deterioration of earth’s natural resources as called the adaptation of environmentally responsive strategies to alter the effects of global warming and pollution. The noticeable change in the weather and the obvious effects of global warming raises the need for a change in lifestyle and living choices. Environmental responses can now be found in various modes of life, including but not limited to transportation, food and nutrition, fashion industry, sanitary and cosmetics industry. Lining up and taking the lead amongst all these is the construction industry.

It has already been noted construction activity has taken part of most of the pollution and wastage causes in the environment. Thus, numerous organizations have risen to take control of this industry in terms of environmental effects and pollution prevention. Governments have taken action by imposing mandatory schemes in building construction in accordance to green building standards and rating systems.

As builders and designers who have a significant impact in the community’s lifestyle and social activities, we also do play an important role in advocating environmental concepts and promoting eco-friendly practices. Interior design is closer to influencing the human lifestyle more than any other building profession. An interior designer’s responsibility lies further beyond the final construction turnover. It’s personal and intimate nature expands our role from being merely builders but also to improve our client’s lifestyle and advocacies. This dominion gives us a greater impact on our role in supporting green design, not only to save our dear mother earth, but also as part of our tasks to enhance our clients’ standard of living.

This blog gives a few examples of using interior design to assist and enhance an interior space’s sustainability and environmental aspects. Little as the impact may seem, we do take our part in promoting the concepts of green building to improve this wonderful gift that we all have called life.

” Sustainability, ensuring the future of life on Earth, is an infinite game, the endless expression of generosity on behalf of all.” – Paul Hawken

Eco-Friendly Materials and Finishes

Specified materials and re-use of such provides a huge impact in the rating of a space’s green rating. Building materials and indoor furnishings have a significant bearing on various aspects of a space’s sustainability including indoor air quality, materials conservation and carbon footprint. A few ideal practices would include the use of locally produced materials, use of materials with high recycled content, materials re-use and specification of materials with low or no toxic content.

Re-use of old salvaged furniture reduces the consumption of fresh materials to manufacture new furnishings. Salvaged furniture and fittings also provide a warm, vintage feel to an interior environment giving it a shabby chic character.

Eco-Friendly Materials and Finishes Source: houseofhargrove.com via Pinterest

The use of Bamboo gives a natural and tropical ambiance in any room. Not only is bamboo a flexible and efficient material to use in interior construction and furnishing, but it is also a rapidly renewable material due to this grass’s ability to grow quickly and without difficulty. This image shows two woven bamboo pendant lamps which give an interesting atmosphere to a rather stark interior backdrop.

Eco-Friendly Materials and Finishes Source: greigedesign.com via Pinterest

This image shows a tasteful use of terrazzo, which is a polished finishing material consisting of chips of recycled stone, marble or granite set in concrete

Eco-Friendly Materials and Finishes Source: blog.angeliquemugnier.fr via Pinterest

Upcycling of old items also has captured the hearts of a lot of designers. Upcycling allows creativity and innovation, while encouraging the reuse of pre-loved items to reduce wastage. This image shows a creative use of old wooden pallets to furnish this contemporary style bedroom.

Eco-Friendly Materials and Finishes Source: dengarden.com via Pinterest

The use of natural materials in an interior space increases the Indoor Air Quality with the absence of toxic materials in the construction process. The challenge, however is balancing the prevention of too much utilization of virgin materials and the use of more organic and nontoxic substances.

Eco-Friendly Materials and Finishes Source: bloglovin.com via Pinterest

Design to Plan for Sustainable Living

Space planning has more impact in interior design that what most people expect. Space planning gives an interior designer the ability to manipulate indoor space use through organization of space proximity, size and circulation. While the physical and psychological comfort of the end user is also a huge part of green design, an interior designer may also use space planning to promote green living activities in one’s everyday life.

This image shows the allowance for a recycling space in a kitchen command centre to encourage environmentally responsible activities, while also creating a highly efficient and functional space.

Design to Plan for Sustainable Living Source: howtonestforless.com via Pinterest

Maximizing space efficiency can also be achieved by space planning. Efficient use of space lowers the need for additional construction, thus also preventing the chance for construction related pollution and wastage.

Design to Plan for Sustainable Living Source: vidaorganizada.com via Pinterest


Minimal construction means minimal negative impact in terms of construction wastage. Along with this, minimalist interiors also provide a zen way of living which is more relaxing and beneficial to one’s spirit and psyche.

Minimalism also equals to minimal use of construction materials, thus, reducing the environmental impacts of construction activity and material wastage.

Minimalism Source: ecstasycoffee.com via Pinterest

Thermal Comfort

Human comfort is always a priority in designing interiors. In line with this, thermal comfort has played a very crucial role in the subject of green building as research and studies for this has opened opportunities and design interest in passive cooling and heating techniques. Passive cooling and heating concepts allow improvement in thermal comfort without the use of mechanical and electrical energy, which helps in energy conservation and reduction of carbon footprint.

Proper use and positioning of shades and drapery helps in the protection of an interior space from direct sunlight. This is very useful in temperate and tropical environments wherein the glass windows may deliver an unnecessary heat gain.

Thermal Comfort Source: www.hoog.design via Pinterest

In cold climates, on the other hand, it is helpful to place seating areas on locations with direct sunlight to allow passive heating to a common space. One must note, however, that careful selection of fabric and materials should be considered as not all types of textile and finishing can withstand the direct heat of the sunlight.

Thermal Comfort Source: apartmenttherapy.com via Pinterest

Planning for Lighting and Illumination

A well-lit interior does not mean a space with more than sufficient lighting. Proper lighting design involves smart positioning of lighting equipment and fit outs to give sufficient illumination while avoiding unnecessary use of energy.

The given provision for natural lighting reduces the need for active lighting equipment that increases the earth’s carbon footprint

Planning for Lighting and Illumination Source: bloglovin.com via Pinterest

The technology of LED lighting has revolutionized the planning concepts for lighting design. The efficiency and ecological benefits of this lighting type has captured the interest of many designers that rapidly improved its technology over time, making it more accessible to consumers and more flexible and efficient for design application.

Planning for Lighting and Illumination Source: homedit.com via Pinterest

Ambient lighting design may also be used to aid the end user by influencing the psyche. This image manifests the use of lighting design to promote rest relaxation in an interior environment.

Planning for Lighting and Illumination Source: athoughtfuleye.wordpress.com via Pinterest

Water efficiency

Years ago, a regular water closet used give away up to 7 gallons of clean potable water per flush. Recent technologies have developed systems to reduce this to 1.6 gallons or less, which gives a huge contribution to help the issue of water conservation.

This image shows an innovative to design a small bathroom space while also promoting water conservation through the re-use of dirty water from the wash basin to the toilet tank

Water efficiency Source: trendsurvivor.com via Pinterest

Indoor Landscape

Indoor vegetation not only improves the ambience of an interior space but also increases the indoor air quality of a room via evapotranspiration and photosynthesis.

Living walls in the form of vertical gardens has gained a huge interest in the eyes of green building designers in the current time. Not only does it provide an interesting feature in a given space, but it also provides a fresh and spirited atmosphere beneficial to the user’s health and wellness.

Water efficiency Source: blog.aprilandmay.com via Pinterest

Xeriscaping is a term used for landscape that needs no amount of irrigation, thus helping water conservation. The best way to accomplish this is to use plants that are native to the area. Xeriscape gives the benefits of air quality and aesthetics while requiring minimal maintenance and upkeep.

Water efficiency Source: guiaparadecorar.com via Pinterest

Are you in love with Interior Design? Learn more about interior concepts by signing up on our online Interior Design School to get your own accredited diploma in Interior Design and be a fully certified Interior Designer.