Green your home by following those green interior design tips and advice from sustainability expert.
Choosing a sustainable building system and natural, reclaimed or recycled materials is really only half the story when it comes to create a home that’s energy efficient and economical to run. It’s import to match the green credentials of a building’s fabric on the inside too. You can do that by taking a complementary approach to kitting out some of your interiors. Here’s a rundown of some of the main elements to consider when you come to redecorate your new home.
Our Sustainability Director at Charlie Laing Project Management looks at some key areas of green interior design with a series that starts with floors, before considering walls, kitchens, green heating, bathrooms.
When creating a healthy interior, it pays to start with the basics – namely the walls and floors. There’s a plethora of natural and eco-friendly floor finishes available, from wool carpets to sustainable timber – each with its own benefits. It’s also important to consider what lies beneath; many self builders choose to install underfloor heating to complement renewable energy sources.
Underfloor heating – with an operating (or ‘flow’) temperature of around 35 degrees Celsius, ‘wet’ underfloor heating (UFH) works well with systems such as ground source heat pumps. That’s because these renewables offer best efficiency at low temperatures and are therefore not well matched to conventional radiators )which need a flow temperature of more like 65 degrees Celsius). Underfloor heating is easiest to install into a new-build – retrofit is possible but disruptive.
Tiles – Choose hardwearing, natural options. It’s best to tile the whole floor before any fixtures or furniture are installed – this will allow you to make layout changes in future, such as switching a breakfast bar with an island unit, without re-tiling the whole floor or having to patch in bits of exposed screed. It’s a good idea to use a flexible adhesive and grout to minimise the risk of cracking, especially if you’re installing underfloor heating. The general rule of thumb with UFH is the harder the finish, the better the response, so tiles and natural stone are an excellent choice.
Timber – Bamboo can be a good option, but always ensure you use regulated sources – look out for Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditations, for instance.
Unfortunately, supplies of genuinely sustainable bamboo are limited and various lamination processes are used, which means that not all floors of this material are diametrically sound (they may swell or shrink). If you have underfloor heating, it’s generally best to opt for engineered boards, which are less prone to shrinking and warping than solid boards and therefore better able to cope with changing temperatures.
Carpet/natural coverings – A lost of options is available here, including cork, linoleum, marmoleum, Karndean and wool carpets.
Again, there are important considerations to bear in mind if you’re fitting UFH – for example, a carpet and underlay must have a combined tog value of less gthan 2.5 so that they’re not over-insulating. With the other natural floors mentioned above, check the delamination tolerances of the adhesive. In some cases these can be as low at 27 degrees Celsium – around eight degrees lower than the typical operating temperature of underfloor heating.