Green has become the new Black. Literally. Environmental Awareness is growing rapidly and major corporations are taking notice. From HOV free paint to organic mattresses, companies are striving harder to make products that are safer for our world and the people who live in them. But there are still many things we, as homeowners, can do within our home to make it safer, more efficient and a lot greener. How? We asked Beth Haley at Beth Haley Design to tell us.
BACKGROUND: In 2000, Beth created Beth Haley Design (BHD), a boutique interior design firm focused on remodeling and renovating established homes with a sensitive, modern approach. Beth is intrigued by the existing market of older homes and how to transform them into workable, nourishing living spaces.
A licensed Interior Designer, Beth is recognized as a local expert on sustainable residential interiors and frequently provides educational seminars throughout the community.
5 Steps to Creating a Green Home
Thank you Interior Canvas!
Do your eyes cross when you think of green design? Don’t worry, that is the case for many people. The world of sustainable living can be entirely overwhelming if you are not familiar with the language. My clients are often interested in the idea of creating a more sustainable home, but the confusion found from certifications, labels, numbers, percentages, etc. can scare people off. Sound familiar? But, what if you found it easy? Would you do it?
For me, green design is a no-brainer. If you knew the products were better performers, were healthier, had similar costs, saved you money in the long run, and were beautiful, would you select those instead? Of course you would! It is my job to teach you what these products are, and how easily they can be incorporated into your lifestyle. Let me introduce you to the fabulous world of green design!
Implementing green products into the home design process can be multi-faceted, spanning several layers of the design process depending on your needs. Here is my list of the top 5 ways to design a green home.
If you want to go all out, an energy audit is the best place to start. Let the pros tell you what you need! It is always important to bring an existing space up to the most current level of efficiency, not only for the homeowner’s wallet, but also for the environment. This part of the process could be considered the “boring” part, but it is also one of the most important to think about.
For local energy audits, I use a company called E3 Innovate, but any third party energy evaluation company will work. They will go through your home and make recommendations regarding your HVAC system, weatherproofing doors and windows, and sealing penetrations, just to name a few areas. Anything that can impact your energy bill will be covered, and they even tell you what type of financial credits you can receive from the government for making the improvements. Who doesn’t love money back?
Almost everyone who cares about design groans as they think of the swirly CFL bulb at the mere mention of efficient lighting. Don’t worry, I was there once too; however, with a little research, and some trial and error, I have found that consumers are not bound to bad lighting forever!
The most important thing to remember is color rendition, and that all boils down to Kelvins. I like to spec 2700K, because it throws a warmer tone than the harsh blue color of the first CFLs. Another exciting advancement has been in LED lighting, where the greatest strides are occurring right now. LED bulbs don’t have the heat output of other lighting, and they last much longer than their counterparts. A great option for hard to reach areas, remember to look for 2700K in LED bulbs as well. This month, all types of new products are being released, so we will be seeing a shift in costs very soon.
As lighting continues to trend towards greater efficiency, we will see better products at lower prices. Already, many companies are improving the aesthetic design of their sustainable lighting fixtures, and where they aren’t, you can always replace your current fixtures with new bulbs.
Are you living with plumbing fixtures that are more than 10 years old? If so, you are literally flushing money down the toilet every day! Today’s market features all types of plumbing fixtures that can save millions of gallons a year. By just replacing the showerheads and sink faucets in my new home, I was able to literally cut my water bill in half immediately.
Look for faucets with WaterSense labels, and always try to use low-flow or air-jet shower heads and faucets. For toilets, dual flush and high efficiency are the way to go. If you are concerned about flushing power in a low-flow toilet, check out Toto’s Cyclone flush. The name says it all!
The quickest way to update your room is with a gallon of paint and some patience. Make sure you are using low or no VOC options. It is better for the air quality in your home and better for your health.
Have fun with color and remember, it’s just paint! So get creative! Don’t forget about ceilings or the backs of bookcases, think outside the box – doors don’t have to match trim.
The finishes arena is where green design can really sparkle. Glass tiles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Many are constructed from recycled glass and other materials that could have become waste. Porcelain tiles are being constructed from recycled materials as well, and we source locally from Clarksville, TN, a double plus!
I love to spec quartz countertops for my clients. The colors are limitless, several have recycled content, and the manufacturer is GREENGUARD certified, meaning it doesn’t off-gas. With quartz countertops you don’t have to worry about stains because it is non-porous, it doesn’t have to be sealed, and it is heat and scratch resistant.
Many flooring options are available, as well. Carpets often contain recycled content, and some are even created to be recyclable in the future! One of my personal favorite carpet contents is corn. It is a renewable resource, inherently soft and durable. It can only be stained by blood!
Cork flooring is another alternative, something we specify often in our projects. It is renewable and resilient – great for your back if you are cooking for several hours. There are so many colors and patterns available, and it is a great option when you need a type of flooring that butts up well to existing hardwoods.
At Beth Haley Design, we believe it is our responsibility to go the extra mile and do all we can to make the world a greener, and more beautiful place. I hope you are inspired to implement some of our “5 steps” in your own home!
Thank you Beth!
Beth Haley Design
1207 Linden Avenue
Nashville, TN 37212
(All photos courtesey of Beth Haley Designs)
Nashville Interior Design