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Sustainable Interior Design Predictions: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice

Posted by Chloe Taylor on August 22, 2016
Sustainable Interior Design Predictions: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice

How green are our lives, really?

The world of environmentally sustainable interior design (ESID) has been torn asunder by a deep divide between theory and practice for years now. In principle, green home features are widely acclaimed; when it comes to real-life implementation of eco-friendly design projects, however, the picture is not as bright as one might expect. Though green building activity leaped from 35% in 2012 to 40% in 2015, current figures are still far below the real needs for sustainable design. Although there’s no knowing what innovations and changes the future may bring, it’s clear that ESID and green building efforts are yet to gain full momentum, and here are some of the most likely directions the course of eco-friendly property developments may take.

Green Cloud with a Silver Lining: Slow yet Steady Growth

According to a recent report by Dodge Data & Analytics, the percentage of firms in developed countries awaiting green certificates for over 60% of their projects is expected to more than double in the next couple of years, rising from the current 18% to 37% in 2018. Based on the results of a survey conducted among 1,000 respondents from 69 countries, the report also notes that emerging economies such as Brazil, India, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia will be the driving engine behind ESID growth in 2015-2018.

In addition to the rise of green building efforts, a large majority of survey respondents stated that they expect the newly-built sustainable buildings to bring them 14% savings in operational costs in the next five years, while the operational savings estimates for green retrofit and eco-renovation projects in the said period add up to about 13%. This is good news for green building and design industry, and we can only hope that the pace of future progress in the area won’t fall short of the benchmark.

Fifty Shades of Green: How Far Eco Can We Really Go?

As the pace of ESID and green building endeavors continues to steadily pick up, the scope of available sustainable resources is the next issue that will command attention. The list of clean materials available to eco-minded designers in the property development, house flipping, and retrofit niche isn’t as limited nowadays as it used to be before the 21st century technological advancements in engineering and construction industry, but it does have a few limitations.

The roadblocks on the quest for property greenification comprise both objective and subjective factors, such as:

  • green-washing and consequent client suspicions as regards sustainability labels;
  • insufficient understanding for the long-term impact of eco-safe materials;
  • lack of accurate information on total ESID and green building ROI;
  • high initial costs of material procurement or update projects;
  • limitations to the assortment of non-imported materials;
  • time required to source environmentally safe materials;
  • lack of reliable information on supplier authenticity.

The Room for Green Growth: Where Do We Go from Here?

While the estimates for the future of sustainable design and green building hold a grain of green hope, the real needs for eco-friendly housing and commercial space are increasing at the speed of light. According to the figures voiced in a recent review by the World Green Building Council, the population in global cities is expected to double by 2050, which is a rather upsetting notion if we take into account the fact that habitable (let alone sustainable) space is already in short supply. The blame for still sluggish pace of mass transition to ESID and green building doesn’t rest on the shoulders of interior designers and construction companies alone: property owners, governments, and investors also bear the brunt of less than required speed of the transition to green living.

Suspicions concerning green labels caused by green washing are standing in the way of the mass switch to eco housing and commercial space. Fortunately, national authorities across the globe are stepping up efforts to put an end to fallacious realty marketing ploys, which is a heartening piece of news for environmentally responsible among designers. In addition to government anti-green washing strategies, we are also seeing more and more architects, builders, and designers endorsing and speaking up about long-term benefits behind aluminum sliding doors, energy-efficient lighting, water saving features, recycled furnishings, alternative energy sources, low VOC paints, thermal insulation, and other green property updates. The keys to growth in the sustainable design industry rest in the hands of law makers and those who know green housing better than the average consumer.

Though the speed of the shift cannot be scaled with utmost accuracy beforehand, one thing is certain beyond doubt: green design has already penetrated the real estate market mainstream, and it will only keep growing thereon. Bridging the gap between ESID and building theory and practice will require continuous work, patience, funds, and perseverance, but it’s feasible – and plausible, too, especially now that designers and law masterminds have finally joined forces on the quest to greenifying our living areas. It remains to be seen whether investors, realtors, and homeowners would join the game as quickly and to the necessary extent – and once they do, sustainable results won’t fall short, on either side of the green benchmark.


Chloe Taylor is an art historian, recreational ballet dancer and a contributor at Smoothdecorator.com. She is passionate about photography, writing, and music. Chloe also enjoys researching, learning and blogging about interiors, green design, sustainable architecture, and various art related topics, since she is crazy about aesthetics. You can find Chloe on FB or Twitter.

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