Minimizing Your Energy Footprint
Style & Design Editor Cindy Trimble Considers Lighting by Design an Integral Part of Sustainability
Sustainability has been the buzz word for the past 20+ years on so many levels. The Southern Appalachians are mostly a vast wilderness with small towns and a few larger cities. We are not impacted by the environmental disasters that a lot of other parts of the country and world are seeing. Our world is large, but in the end, it does have a limited amount of resources. The protection of our resources is what sustainability is all about. We all need to be environmentally responsible and cognizant of things we can do to support a long-term ecological balance.
We are currently in the midst of the “Green Movement” revolution. Being green is a conscious effort to be environmentally responsible with development of technology, with social practices as applied to all built and living environments. There is a huge push to reevaluate our energy sources and to focus on renewable fuels whose impact is much less on the earth and our environment. Fossil fuels and coal are not renewable. They have a negative impact on the environment with their extraction from the earth and their exhausts when they are burned to create energy. Electric and solar are much better resources with minimal impact on the earth.
Energy efficiency is also critically important to our built environments. There are a lot of movements intended to educate and encourage us to use less energy, again to minimize our impact on the earth. There are all sorts of new energy efficient products such as LED bulbs, electric cars, sensor systems that turns lights on and off so that energy is not used when no one is using a space. There are smart appliances that use less energy. This takes education and effort to find and use these products.
How about recycling and composting which have been popular for many years? One element that has gained a lot of attention lately is plastic that does not decompose. Companies are working hard to find an alternate material to plastic (a petro-chemical by product) but it is so prevalent in our word. Just try to count the number of plastic items you touch in one day – it will blow your mind, from your bedding to your clothes, food containers, elevator button, flooring, car seats, house parts, toys, household items, etc. Plastics take an eternity to decompose and have started creating huge trash piles in our oceans and landfills. Plastic has a decomposition time of over 1000 years unlike paper which takes hours to days to decompose and return to a renewable material.
How have things changed? Many countries have made the protection of the earth their priority and have implemented laws that restrict certain practices and products. Overall, it is a trickle-down concept from our government to our own homes. It not only takes regulations to get things going, but it takes education of the public, and then an acceptance by the public.
Our firm tries to use green and renewable products whenever possible. These are products that are made close by, do not have “off-gassing” of chemicals when they are installed. They are made from safe, renewable materials. Our firm incorporates recycle stations in kitchens and utilizes LED lighting whenever possible. We encourage the use of solar shades and window treatments to help with solar gain and the overuse of air conditioning. The list is endless. It takes education and implementation. ACLM
Cindy Trimble, ASID is owner of Studio Trimble, Inc. based in Blue Ridge. She is NCIDQ certified and a Georgia Registered Interior Designer.
Cindy Trimble, Studio Trimble, Inc.
Photos by Tom Harper