It is easy to focus on an object in a room and feel that the room is eco-friendly. For example, I made a dining room table out of reclaimed lumber. The table is eco-friendly because no new lumber was harvested. However, is the room as environmentally sound as it can be? Here are five ideas that can help you take a step back and rate a room in order to prioritize design decisions to get the biggest environmental bang for your buck. Once you have rated the design priorities of your room you may find that the most cost effective route to better design is through energy upgrades, awnings or a stylish charging station that can be easily unplugged when not in use.
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1 Having a blower door test done on your home is an action that may not make your home any more beautiful but it can inform your design decisions.
2 Practically Green is a website that provides information about actions you can take in your personal life to reduce your water, energy and stuff footprints. Check out the Home Energy Actions section to learn ways you can reduce energy use in your home.
3 Understanding phantom power, the power an electronic device uses when it is not in use, can help you make design decisions to reduce energy use in a room. Sustainable Life Solutions has a handy guide to reducing phantom loads in your home.
4 The best room design decision could actually be outside your room. An awning on a south or west facing window can reduce the need for air conditioning. It is also a prime opportunity to create a DIY design project of your own.
5 It seems like there are endless opportunities to improve the design of a room with lighting because many lighting fixtures are beautiful design objects. If you look at the overall use and aesthetic of a room you could make decisions that deliver lighting more efficiently based on what you do in a room. For example, does your home office need a task lighting makeover to make work more productive, reduce eye strain and save energy? Could the kitchen use better under cabinet lighting? Could you upgrade to LED lighting like Human Scale's Horizon series?