Since we typically spend about 80% of our time indoors, it pays to make sure that our indoor spaces are GREEN! When we remodel or build new, the finishes installed and furniture we buy can make a big difference in indoor air quality. If we were to paint, install carpet, install new cabinetry and purchase new furniture, the amount of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that will be off-gassing could be very high. These VOC’s can come from the paint, adhesives in the carpet backing or applied during installation, and formaldehydes in furniture or cabinetry, to name a few. There are many reported cases of illness, including asthma in both adults and children, which have been caused by a dramatic increase in airborne chemicals in a new home or newly remodeled residence.
Bonnie Nathan, LEED AP Interior Designer of Nathan Design Group, has shown that her clients do not have to sacrifice luxury and beauty to enjoy a more earth-friendly lifestyle. She offers sustainable, gorgeous and healthy options for new construction and home renovation projects.
In paint, it has become very easy and affordable to find many colors in low VOC and Zero VOC. The lighter the color; the lower the VOC’s. I recently painted the interior of my home for the first time in about 6 years, and was delighted at the quality, selection, and ease of using Zero VOC paint. In addition to the peace of mind I got from not exposing my family to harmful chemicals, it was so nice to not have any lingering paint fumes or odors.
The backing of carpet can now be made of recycled materials and use Zero VOC adhesives, and wallpaper made from recycled content or recyclable content can be found readily in major supply houses. Always use Zero VOC adhesives when installing any finishes in your home. Look for water-based, low VOC stains and varnishes as well.
When installing millwork, new cabinetry, or wood flooring, check for wood that has been certified by the FSC, Forest Stewardship Council. This organization regulates harvesting and makes sure that foresters are replacing trees properly and practicing fair trade.
When buying furniture, be sure it is built from sustainably grown or recycled woods and that the stains and varnishes are water based. Good furniture manufacturers are doing lifecycle assessment (LCA) for all of their products, in an effort to understand every material in their process like organic fabrics, wood adhesives, water soluble dyes, wood origins, distance traveled from where it was manufactured or harvested, and even the packaging for shipping and disposal. This process is expected to eventually become mandatory.
Another Green furniture option is to buy antiques or pre-owned furniture. This offers a second life to a piece that might have otherwise made its way to the landfill. There is also no further out-gassing. If you choose to refinish antiques, always try to choose water based or low VOC products.
When buying appliances, check for an Energy Star rating. Also Green Guard is a great way to see a 3rd party certification of a variety of products from adhesives to finishes to furniture.
Here’s a surprise! Vinyl, linoleum and rubber flooring are making a comeback using recycled content made from pre consumer and post consumer products. They have the percentages of recycled content that home environmental certifications require.
Bonnie recommends that you find a “Green comfort level” that is complimentary to your lifestyle and budget. Any level of sustainable living is better than none and it is getting easier and more cost effective to be Green now.
If you would like to discuss Greening your interiors with Bonnie, please contact her at (512) 415-8111 or Bonnie.Nathan@gmail.com