Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Walk & Talk Green in Your Design Practice

Part One

by Sharon Burns, ASID, CID
Art Consultants + Design

Here are five guidelines to put into your design practice:

1. Establish your principles. To what extent is your firm ready to go green? Does your commitment extend to the products you purchase, to the vendors you are willing to work with, to your own office environment and culture?

2. Develop an action plan. Once you have clarified your environmental principles, determine how you will embody them in your firm’s business practices. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish through the effort (i.e. reduce solid wastes, increase use of recycled materials, eliminate use of water-soluble toxins and contaminants).

3. Start with yourself. You have the power to change yourself; likewise, your firm’s eco-friendly practices can begin with you. Consider raising the topic of sustainability at an all-staff meeting or lunchtime forums; follow up with E-mails, verbal reminders, and even posters.

4. Examine your current office products and processes. Areas to consider: Cleaning supplies (biodegradable soaps and cleaners); office supplies (use copier and fax paper with a high recycled content); electrical (opt for Energy Star appliances and energy-saving light bulbs); and recycling (reuse packing and shipping materials).

5. Fix specification guidelines. During each project’s schematic design and research phases, begin exploring product options that will fulfill your sustainable criteria.
-What type of long-life, durable products and materials will work?
-Are there recyclable, reclaimed, or salvaged products available?
-Are there materials with low-embodied energy that are durable enough for use?
-What local materials can be used? (Regional materials require less energy and resources to transport to job sites.)

There will be five more guidelines presented next month…watch this space!