Sustainability is the ability of society to meet the needs of the present and future while causing minimal harm to the environment. As of 2013, the world population began using 1.7 times the natural resources of Earth in a given year. If everyone consumed the same as the average American, the global population would utilize 4 times the natural resources of Earth each year . Increasingly, governments, businesses, and the population at large are recognizing the need for sustainable solutions to promote long-term societal progress.
Interior design can play a pivotal role in fostering sustainability and protecting the environment. Interior designers not only have a moral responsibility to design sustainably, the ability to do so will also increasingly impact their bottom line. As sustainability becomes popularized, more home and commercial clients are demanding sustainable interior solutions.
So what is a sustainable interior design? And what specific actions can interior designers take to promote sustainability in their designs?
There are four key principles to sustainable interior design:
1. Eco-friendly materials, furniture & finishes
Utilizing materials, furniture and finishes with low environmental impact (e.g. bamboo, cork, recycled aluminum), integrating repurposed and reused materials wherever possible, sourcing materials locally and ensuring the use of high-quality materials built for longevity all promote sustainable interior design. Sourcing materials from suppliers with one or more of the following certifications ensures products meet certain sustainability standards:
a. Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)
b. Global Organic Textile Standard
c. Green Seal Certified
d. Rainforest Alliance Certified
2. Resource Efficiency
Water and energy efficient appliances, insulated doors and windows and use of natural lighting all contribute to sustainable interior design. Products with the following certifications can be integrated into the design process to ensure the most efficient use of energy and resources:
a. Energy Star
3. Space Planning
Proper space planning allows for efficient use of space to suit client needs. This ensures space is not wasted, while allowing for a natural living flow. A few key components of proper space planning include:
a. Ensuring there is kitchen space for both trash and recycling cans
b. Designing kitchen cabinetry for efficient storage space per square foot
c. Integrating living plants to promote air filtration and natural beauty
4. Waste Management
Ensuring project waste is properly managed is a key component of interior design sustainability efforts. General waste should be reduced through proper project planning and recyclable materials should be separated and appropriately disposed.
 C. McDonald, How Many Earths Do We Need, BBC News, 06.16,2015 Accessed on: 08.17,2021. Available: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33133712