ASID Icon - Fall 2013 - (Page 30)
By Lori J. Tugman, Allied ASID, LEED Green Associate
GETTING STARTED ON A SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN/
“REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE” is a familiar sustainability mantra. It’s a good
motto, but a bit general for professionals like interior designers who deal with
details that can make or break a project on a daily basis. To help you green
your practice and design healthy, high-performing interiors, we’ve outlined a
Sustainability Action Plan to get you started and keep you on track. This ﬁvepoint strategy provides a distinct roadmap to make sustainability less daunting
and aid in making more sustainable design decisions.
A designer’s discriminating palate extends beyond color, texture and pattern
and delves into the ingredients of materials. Selecting durable, non-toxic products that contribute to the health of the occupant and indoor air quality is just as
important as their aesthetic. Energy-efficient lighting and appliances and waterreducing ﬁxtures that conserve natural resources should also be a priority.
Create interiors that stand the test of time, making sure every element in
your design is appropriately durable and meaningful. Renovating existing structures is inherently more sustainable than new construction. Adding more square
footage or moving into a larger space may not be necessary when space planning, adjacencies and storage are properly addressed.
Specialized knowledge is a signiﬁcant value that interior designers bring to the
table, so get to know your materials and become credentialed. Chemicals on the
Living Building Challenge’s “Red List” such as phthalates, halogenated ﬂame
retardants and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are human toxins, yet are ubiquitously
found in common building materials. Learn how to specify safe alternatives
with hazard screening tools and product libraries such as Pharos Project,
EcoScorecard™ and GreenSpec®. When vetting products through third-party
certiﬁcations that assess human and environmental impact, the ASID Guide to
Ecolabels is also an invaluable resource.
Just as your ASID appellation distinguishes you as a qualiﬁed designer,
becoming REGREEN Trained™ or a LEED Accredited Professional will differentiate you in the sustainability marketplace. More than 70 percent of hiring
decision-makers maintain that being credentialed increases competitiveness,
so a green credential may bring your resume to the top of the stack and help
you land a new job.
Pay attention to where your materials originate from and who makes them.
Select products and materials that originate or are manufactured within 500
miles of the project site. This will decrease carbon dioxide emissions and petroleum dependence by reducing the transportation burden, while also supporting
Whenever possible, use local craftsmen to infuse interiors with a sense of
place to help articulate the vernacular of a region. Using regional artisans also
helps sustain local businesses, which in turn stabilizes the national economy.
Indigenizing is akin to shopping at your local farmers’ market: you get fresher,
better-quality products while supporting your community.
a regular basis. Re-purpose discontinued carpet samples at your local animal shelter or donate tile samples to a design school. Electronic samples are an even better
choice because they use fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and can be shared
across multiple platforms for on-the-go convenience.
As you receive new samples, vet them for toxic ingredients, recycled content
and durability — and reject materials that don’t meet sustainability standards.
Maintaining a go-to speciﬁcation list with healthy materials and eco-conscious
manufacturers will streamline your selection process for every project you do.
Think of it like your kitchen: If you only stock healthy products, you won’t be
tempted by things that are bad for you!
Oftentimes the easiest way to green your design practice is to simplify things.
Be mindful of the impact daily activities have on the environment. Encourage
employees to carpool or use public transit. Opt for plant-based cleaning products instead of chlorine-based cleansers, which are caustic and pollute the
Adopt business practices that eliminate waste. Ban disposable utensils and use
ceramic dishware instead. Go digital by setting up direct deposit and opting for
online statements and publications. Design recycling centers at the point-of-use
and make sure waste is properly sorted to comply with municipality regulations.
Sustainable design can be challenging, even for large, well-established
design ﬁrms. Keep in mind that sustainability is never black and white, there
are always trade-offs and good/better/best choices. Sustainable practices are
applicable at every design phase, but most effective when employed from the
beginning. Strive to get all stakeholders, including your professional team,
involved early and keep them engaged throughout the entire process.
Keep it all in perspective and do the best you can. Before you know it, you’ll
be adding reimagine, repair and reclaim to that familiar mantra.
When you make it convenient to stay organized, it’s easier to make better choices.
Green your resource library by keeping sample ﬁles in order and purging them on
Lori Tugman, Allied ASID, LEED AP, is the former senior sustainable design associate for ASID.
See the following page for information on the Sustainability Action Plan online course.
the magazine of the american society of interior designers
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASID Icon - Fall 2013
The Kids Are Alright
Meeting of the Minds
The Future Is Now
Design for Life
Celebration – The 2013 ASID Design Awards
ASID Icon - Fall 2013