What Can Sustainable Home Design Do For You?

1. Au Naturale


Singaporeans love their aircons. It’s our natural go-to solution to beat the tropical heat of our sunny island. Many of us grew up with very thrifty parents, and true to their nagging, the aircon doesn’t just jack up the electric bill, it doesn’t do the environment any favors either. While fans may be friendlier to the climate and our wallets, the best sustainable way to keep our homes cool is to maximize natural ventilation. Having open concept plans for your communal areas will help create a cross-ventilation breeze, which is Mother Nature’s free of charge natural cooling method for your home. 


With global warming being a very real and present concern, sustainable design that reduces aircon usage is becoming a trend in green interior design. Many are adopting ventilation screens to keep the sun out, and to allow cool air in. In our packed window-to-window urban city, it doubles up as a privacy screen. 


Beautiful shot of a modern house kitchen

2. Cooler, Bright, Cheaper


On the same note, there are homeowners on our sunny island who absolutely must have their air conditioning, and many pick the lesser of two evils, partitioning their homes with sliding panels or screens for quicker cooling and lower energy consumption. 


Air conditioners control both room temperature and humidity. It is crucial to pick the right cooling capacity for more efficient use and to save energy. While an oversized system costs more both in purchase price and electrical bills, it may also inefficiently dehumidify your space, cooling the air too quickly and powering down before reducing humidity sufficiently. On the flip side, an undersized aircon will not cool or humidify adequately. 


Here’s where you may need a larger aircon — in rooms with higher ceilings, large windows that let the sun in, windows that face the sun, or in rooms with additional heat sources like a mini fridge or computer system that you keep running very often. 


Other popular sustainable designs also aim to incorporate LED lighting, which lasts longer and consumes less energy, as well as motion-sensing lights so you only use it when you need it. Picking light colors in your home for large surfaces like your walls, window fittings (blinds or drapes), and cupboards or cabinets will help bounce light better, making your room brighter with the same amount of lighting. Smart positioning of your TV and digital screens away from your windows also minimizes glare and the need for you to increase screen brightness. 


Smart ways to remind yourself to save energy include placing your electrical outlets in easily accessible and visible spots, so it is easy to remember to turn them off after each use. Allowing sufficient spacing around your refrigerator also makes for better ventilation, which helps with its cooling efficiency and lowers your energy usage. 


Carbon footprint green environmental paper background with wind turbines trees and people

3. Lower Your Carbon Footprint


In Singapore, we’re all guilty of leaving at least some form of carbon footprint, given our very urban lifestyles. To help alleviate your footprint, responsible selection of materials for your home is important. However, it is essentially impossible to have an entirely sustainable home, unless you lived in the wilderness, and even then… Anyway, given that even natural renewable resources like wood, natural stone, gypsum, and wool require appropriate use and application, sustainable design nearly always requires the professional input of a skilled designer, one that has been properly schooled in green design. 


Recycled steel, reclaimed wood, cork, and felt are only a few of the popular materials used in green design. Bamboo is also a great choice, given it is a completely biodegradable, anti-bacterial, plant species that grows in abundance and can regenerate within 3 to 5 years. Vetiver, a tropical grass species that can lower interior temperatures (sounds like a godsend), reduce indoor pollutants and keep air fresh, is also trending in urban homes. Knowing where your materials come from, what they can do, the length of their life cycles, and how they are disposed of when they cease to be of use helps us understand the footprint we leave behind and make responsible decisions towards sustainable design.


Closeup of young girl and woman hands with brushes slowly painting very old wooden closet drawer in blue color reuse of old things sustainable ecofriendly actions for planet future

4. Waste Not, Want Not


No matter how “green” you try to be, you will produce a certain amount of waste. While you may try to reuse whatever you can, like boxes, takeaway containers, or plastic bags, there is only so much you can do about the inevitable waste you are going to create. 


Sustainable design trends are seeing certain design themes like retro, rustic, or even Victorian styles that celebrate the use of vintage or old furniture so more upcycling or reusing of old furniture can be incorporated into home interiors. Old, and even broken furniture is either retouched or repurposed, and used items like tins cans, mason jars often add a whimsical flair to hipster homes. The shabby chic look is also making a comeback in the wake of sustainable design themes. 


Another smart way of reducing wastage is to choose biodegradable synthetic raw materials in your home design and furnishing. Faux leather, for instance, often uses recyclable waste, giving old material a new lease of life. It is a wonderful method of reducing both your waste output and the carbon footprint you leave.


Going green isn’t just kind to the environment, it very often is also gentler on the homeowners pocket. It creates a guilt-free environment where your mental and physical well-being is optimized and increases energy-efficiency, which ultimately helps you enjoy savings on your utilities, a win-win situation all around. 



Posted on 15th July 2022


Racheal Sia, 

SIXiDES Editorial Team


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