What is green building and what is your role in it?
Who are your customers?
Green Building is a movement that has stemmed out of the need for man to return to our state of balance with the natural world. We began civilizations, building green, using natural and local materials. It has been through time and technology that we began to exploit natural resources, create synthetic materials and import and export – elements that all began to take us away from our origins.
Today, Green Building represents a wide umbrella of disciplines that encompass everything in a building from the orientation, the design, materials, sourcing, indoor air quality and the performance of the building in reference to energy and water efficiency.
As an Eco Interior Designer, with a wide background that includes interior design, green building and permaculture, I feel that I have a broad and encompassing breadth of what role I play in this field. I take into account beyond what a typical green designer may. Beginning with the core of the individual, and moving my way out through the design of a space all the way to the landscape of the land.
My clients range from citizens interested in moving towards a more regenerative way of life – be it through their personal life or in their home. I also work with businesses in applying ways of implementing sustainable practices in addition to making their office space more energy and water efficient – all while improving indoor air quality and employee performance.
Transitioning from conventional building to sustainable building and remodeling can be a difficult concept to grasp. How do you assist your clients with the transition toward a greener mindset?
Going green must begin with an intention to be more aware of the life you live. I believe once people are given the information, such as the fact that our water travels over 500 miles to get to our faucets or how electricity is created and transported – people may be more apt to raise their level of awareness.
Education is critical in helping people understand the importance in raising their consciousness. I walk my clients through the entire process – the facts, the cost differential, the justification in health and livelihood and most importantly, helping them see the bigger picture.
Having them see the holistic view, that every action truly matters.
What is the concept of green washing?
Green washing stemmed from the concept of whitewashing – it is taking advantage of a wide growing market and few knowledgeable individuals that know what questions to ask or what they should be looking for. Using key words such as ‘green, eco or natural’ have been widely abused without any regard to integrity. Sadly, there are people who believe this type of target marketing, and are deceived.
It is virtually impossible to validate or invalidate any of these claims in this country, when many of our industries are not regulated or monitored – leaving it an open opportunity for
anyone to take advantage of this exploding market. As consumers, people need to become educated and read labels and understand what to look for.
Having lived in Spain, Italy, New York City, Miami and San Francisco what are some of the trends you have noticed in green building in other cities?
Europe has been on the forefront of this movement. They have always kept things in accordance to human scale, be it their cars or their homes. They have outlawed GMO’s, and several countries to not allow American imported produce for that very reason. They are ahead, in the use of alternative fuels, building biology (Bau Biologie), alternative transportation and the use of local and natural materials.
In the United States, San Francisco and New York City are ahead of the game including a couple other cities. Taking advantage of their size – public and alternative transportation thrive in both cities. Federally both have passed laws that all new government buildings must meet LEED standards. San Francisco, in comparison, to NYC is ahead of the curve in educating its citizens, offering city wide compost collection, in addition to having more LEED certified buildings.
What are some of the current projects you working on?
(Currently working on a reference guide for the Interior Design industry and publishing articles on green living, and speaking about the importance of sustainable living) elaborate.
In addition to writing and speaking in public, of the projects I have on the boards, I am working in various industries in helping them be more sustainable – hospitality, commercial, corporate and residential. I also have a remodel in San Francisco and a new construction low rise residential building in Miami.
The reference guide for the interior design industry will be a guide for anyone in the field -from a seasoned designer to an amateur. It will hold a wide scope of information tailoring the various industries that we work closely with that maintain their own standards and vocabulary.
What are five things someone can do right now to green their home?
And what are the environmental and financial benefits to each one?
(a.) organic, (b.) seasonal (c.) local
a. No fertilizers, herbicides, sewage sludge or GMO’s – does not damage the land or water quality, promotes biodiversity & crop rotation
b. More nutrient content (not picked before harvest, allowing for produce to naturally mature)
c. Lower energy costs (less transportation)
a. Supports a movement – vote with your dollar! If you shop at the farmers market, and you support small scale farming
b. You save on energy costs by not importing fruit from other countries when they are out of season here
c. Support the community (more money stays in the community on a fiscal level – versus shopping at a big box grocer where most of your money will end up at a corporate office outside your city )
2. Save water – we are in a drought and live in a desert! Purchase aerators for your kitchen and bath faucet and a low flow shower head. Educate yourself on the garbage patch in the North Pacific Gyre, and the dead zones in our oceans – spread the word!
Water is a precious and finite resource that is dependent on snow pack from the Sierras and the Rockies, in addition to the Colorado to sustain our demand – very little comes from our groundwater, most of it is contaminated
Save on your water bill. Even, if you do not pay for your water, you will decrease the city wide demand for it
3. Use alternative transportation – walking, biking, bus, carpool
Less traffic, toxins, demand for foreign oil
A lot less expensive than driving
4. Save energy – use power strips, use CFL’s, turn the lights off in unoccupied rooms
Less demand on the grid (nuclear or coal powered plants are extremely taxing on the environment)
Lower energy bill
5. Avoid disposable items at all cost
Our landfills are reaching capacity and in 5 years, our garbage will have to be taken out to the desert – every bit counts, eliminate anything that is cheap and meant for a short life. Spending a little more on something that is going to last is well worth it.
The need to constantly buy poorly made products. Buying built to last products assures that they are made for duration, versus so many products that are intended for one life cycle. People need to separate themselves from this disposable society mentality, and take responsibility for what they use and consume. Think Cradle to Cradle.