Design is integral to our lives. Its purpose is to make our lives easier and in today’s world it has to be eco-friendly and sustainable. Although we cannot simply re-build our spaces, we can easily add elements to ensure paradigm shifts in the direction of eco- friendly spaces to help our environment and promote sustainability.
1. Renewable Energy: Solar energy is a sound eco-friendly choice. It reduces the amount of energy we draw from the grid, as well as our own electricity bills and pollutants released in the air. Although sunny days produce more solar energy, solar panels continue to draw energy even in cloudy weather. Solar power systems combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. They also significantly improve the resale value of any home.
2. Landscaping as a Passive Energy Strategy: Adding plants within a built space creates a toxic-free environment. They provide oxygen and filter out harmful toxins. Native trees and plants will reduce watering requirements. Mint, pine, seasonal flowers with fragrances, bamboos and lilies are excellent choices. Roof gardens also help increase the lifespan of the roof itself which would otherwise be compromised through exposure to the elements.
3. Green Appliances and Fixtures: Substituting ‘green machines’ with conventional appliances reduces energy consumption hugely. They include: Inverter air conditioners: They lower energy consumption, reduce electricity bills and can be used as heating agents. Green lighting: LED bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25% longer.
“Solar energy is a sound eco-friendly choice. It reduces the amount of energy we draw from the grid, as well as our own electricity bills and pollutants released in the air.
4. Windows: If properly treated, windows can deflect heat and insulate a space. The glass used for windows should be reflecting glass with the option of double glazing and vacuum glass for windows facing maximum exposure to the sun. Shading devices over windows, especially those facing east and west, reduce the amount of heat entering a space. Options include fibreglass canopies, cloth awnings, exterior blinds, wooden pergolas and pre-fabricated lintel and slab if going for a concrete look. Natural options include trellises with creepers, planting trees and long height plants in front of windows.
5. Low VOC products: Low volatile organic compounds are not harmful to the environment or humans. They include: Non-toxic paint: Household paint usually contains up to 10,000 chemicals, of which approximately 300 are toxins and 150 have been linked to cancer. Use paints made from natural raw ingredients, such as water, plant oils and resins, plant dyes and essential oils and natural minerals such as clay, chalk and talcum in addition to beeswax, earth, milk casein, mineral dyes and natural latex. Natural Materials: Synthetic fabrics are highly flammable and manufacturers treat them with chemicals to reduce flammability, so buying furniture and upholstery made from natural materials is a long term solution for sustainability and good health. Bamboo, cotton, feathers, iron, jute cloth, laminate, leather, marble, silk and wood are easily available at affordable prices.
6. Cleaning Agents & Purifiers: Avoid using air fresheners and candles made from artificial oils. The same can be said for the cleaning agents we use.
The above pointers are easily manageable, economically viable and help sustain our environment on a long-term basis.
Farah Rizwan is Partner, Orphic, and lectures at The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. firstname.lastname@example.org