Tips on Creating a Sustainable Home or Office Space

Alan J. Horwitz, Professor of Interior Design in the School of Professional Studies at Berkeley College, shares tips on how to make your home and office space more sustainable and how he is coaching students to use environmentally friendly products when decorating.

3/31/18 #626






"Welcome back. Sustainability has become a focus in many industries, from farming to energy, but did you know that interior design is also incorporating sustainability into its practice. With me right now is Alan Horwitz, Professor of Interior Design at Berkeley College. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. Absolutely. We love talking about sustainability, and more importantly, how we can improve what we're already doing, right? Talk a little bit about what sustainability means in interior design? Well sustainability is a broad topic, and as it relates to interior design, it's really creating the best possible environment for the people that are gonna be living or working in particular places. So it has to do with air quality, and lighting quality, views to the outside, things that make people feel comfortable and happy in their surroundings. So when we talk about sustainability, it's not just what's good for the earth, it's not just what's good for our bodies, but it's also about how we feel? It's very much about how we feel. All of those other things are, of course, important, and part of the way that we practice sustainable design in interiors, and how we teach it at Berkeley, is awareness of the big picture. Everything has to be thought about within the context of the overall issues that we, as a society, are facing in the use of our resources and how we're dealing with our physical environment. Give me some examples. What are some ways that you would approach a space saying these are eco-friendly products that we should be using? I was just in Home Depot the other day looking at paints. And, you know, in almost of, you know, environments, we have painted surfaces of one type or another. And you can either have paint that's made with typical chemicals that have toxicity levels that you wouldn't expose anybody to, yet we go ahead, put them on our walls, thinking that, "Oh, it's a pretty color!" This is the VOC, right? Yes and... I've done a little bit of painting inside my house, so I know that acronym. Right. So that acronym, VOC, stands for "volatile organic compounds" and volatile is the operative word there, meaning that when they interact, either with sunlight, or with other chemicals, they can create toxic off-gassing, which is obviously not healthy, and not very sustainable. So in the same aisle of paint at the Home Depot, you can also find paints that either have very low VOCs, or in some cases, zero VOCs, which are clearly gonna create a much more healthy and safe physical environment. Give us another..."