1. WE SPEND 80-90% OF OUR LIVES INDOORS
Have you ever thought about it? Modern living and rapid urbanization actually mean that we are spending more and more time indoors. Be it at home, at work and even at play, when we visit malls, dine out or go clubbing. All these environments are mostly designed and built by Architects, Designers, Builders and Contractors. But have you ever wondered whether these interiors and spaces were designed and built in a green, sustainable and healthy manner?
2. WHY DOES GOING GREEN MATTER?
By now, most would have known that when people inhabit a space long enough, we will form patterns of usage. Some of these are simply bad habits. Like the running of taps when we brush our teeth or the use of high energy consuming devices such as air conditioners throughout the day. Careful planning, specifications of certain efficient products can mitigate these bad habits and Designers can quite literally help direct inhabitants to form new and good habits. To cite an example, the Designer can simply design the plug points above the study desk, such that it becomes more accessible for inhabitants to switch off or unplug their devices when appliances are not in used. A simple idea, but completely doable design intervention!
It’ll ultimately challenge the Designer and Occupants to put their brains together to design a new lifestyle! This is just a micro perspective of just one home. If we start to scale this up, and see this from a combined point of view, one home at a time, one block of occupants, one neighbourhood of well-designed homes with good habits, what kind of impact do you think it will do for the society and for the environment?
3. RENOVATION WASTE AND INTERNAL AIR QUALITY
We tried looking for data on renovation waste in Singapore but could not find enough information on this. What we do know, is the yearly volume of renovation work, which totals about 55,000 -60,000 homes annually. Now if we attribute a conservative speculation that 1,000kgs (1.0 ton) of debris and waste to each of this home renovation project, we are looking at a potential of 55,000 to 60,000 tons of renovation waste generated annually, enough to fill 22-30 Olympic swimming pools!
Beyond this, there is still the greater concern that more can be done to regulate the use of harmful solvent, adhesives, materials and wood that has high traces of formaldehyde (HCHO) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) introduced into the interior spaces by the renovation work.
Sick Building Syndrome – affecting many of us in bad air circulation spaces
As we grow reliant on the use mechanical ventilation and cooling, many inhabitants restrict good airflow thus disallowing the purging of bad air and off gassing of these VOCs. This results in inhabitants feeling sick and uncomfortable in the interior space, resulting in what we call, a “Sick Building Syndrome”.
4. MORE INTERVENTION CAN BE DONE
At the end of the day, Designers design and build these spaces for occupants. Their needs go beyond the use of space but also its impact on environment, its impact on the health and wellness of its occupants. More, can be done from the interventions by Designers who follow these steps to help build a better environment:
Singapore Eco labels for products, appliances and fittings
• USE GREEN MATERIALS (SGBCP, Green Label, Green Mark Products, FSC Certified wood etc)
• CONSIDER ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENCY – this goes beyond the efficiency labels on appliances and fittings. Study the usage patterns and implement strategies to reduce use and optimise efficiency as well.
• SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – Specify products that are recycled, reuse whenever possible, consider the impact on the environment when we hack and throw.
• INDOOR AIR QUALITY – allow enough time for the purging of toxicants and VOCs after the renovation. Do not introduce elements that will harm the inhabitants in the long run.
5. DO MORE AS A DESIGNER
For homeowners who would like to hire a certified green interior designer, look out for our designers with the GID (Green Interior Designer) badges. These designers (https://www.sixides.com/professionals/interior-designers) undertook our Green Interior Design course that was conducted at the Singapore Institute of Technology and are equipped to help in designing a green and healthy home!
Graduants of the first batch of Green interior designers listed on SIXiDES panel of Designers
Our work as Designers does not end when we hand over the renovation project to our Clients. In fact, the moment they start to use the space, is the day that the occupants interact with the Designers’ true designed intent. This is the remit and responsibility of the 21st century Designers today. Don’t just make beautiful spaces that are good to look at but are really toxic to reside in. If we take into consideration their lifestyle preferences and implement green ideas into the project, the occupants will continue to enjoy the space for many beautiful and healthy years to come.
Interested in taking part in the Green Interior Design Course? Click on this link HERE to apply!
Posted on 7th April 2023
Astley Ng – the designerd,
SIXIDES Editorial Team
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