With the current discussions worldwide surrounding climate change and numerous environmental issues, we have certainly noticed an increased awareness of Sustainable Design being incorporated into hospitality projects as well as projects across all sectors.
The ideas surrounding Sustainable Design are to limit the negative effects that can be seen on the environment through using non-renewable resources. Through improving building performance, the health and comfort of occupants and the ultimate reduction on consumption of non-renewable resources, minimising waste and creating healthier and more productive environments, can make a sizable contribution to the overall issue.
From an Interior Design & Architectural point of view, Sustainable Design and Energy Consumption is not a new topic in the hospitality industry, however due to technological advancements over recent years we have seen that it is now possible to design for sustainability and implement more eco-friendly practices that can have a significant impact on costs and the environment. Some examples that we have come across include using local and organic building materials, energy efficient appliances, LED, CFL and motion-sensing lighting as well the use of solar panels.
According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the CIS Tower has, “the largest commercial solar façade in Europe.” Over 7,000 photovoltaic cells cover the building, generating 180 megawatt hours of clean energy annually. In addition to its solar power, 24 wind turbines have also been fitted on the building’s roof.
We have found that aside from sustainability being ‘best practice’ there are also other Interior Design and Architectural benefits to being sustainable.
Through our experience we realise that consumers and guests tend to gravitate towards brands and companies that share their values.
As an Interior Designer or Architect, part of our process is to ensure that we capture fully the beliefs, values and visions of our clients (specifically in a commercial, hospitality or retail project) so that these can be relayed with ease onto their target audience.
From there we have found that even those whom do not consider themselves to be “green” or “eco-friendly”, are still more likely to appreciate the knowledge that their brand, business, restaurant, office or hotel are producing smaller carbon footprints and are therefore more likely to use those brands over others that may not share or project the same views, or are not as easily seen through their design process.
Sustainable projects may seem more expensive when looking at the costs of construction, however by conducting a ‘Building Performance Analysis’ beforehand, this can help designers to understand what decisions can obtain a more economical return and therefore make sustainable solutions easier to implement at the onset of a project.
Through a ‘Building Performance Analysis’ you would be able to assess the initial ‘Investment Costs’ which would show you the costs of purchase and installation for example a sustainable and more eco-friendly solution. You would then be able to review the ongoing ‘Operation Costs’ which would highlight what it would cost to run such a solution. Finally, you would look at the ‘Return Costs’ which would effectively show you the return on energy production that would provide a positive financial return due to the sustainable solution reducing the amount of energy that is supplied and paid for.
Overall, if a building is constructed with innovative and sustainable building practices, it will save the owner and investors’ money in the long run by using up less energy than a traditional building.
The use of cantilevered volumes and canopies adds interest to the facade, whilst providing effective shading from the desert sun. Large expanses of glass are utilised to maximise natural daylight and views outward. The façade has Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) cladding which allows the Villa to obtain renewable energy and offset its’ consumption. Sustainable living is at the forefront of our thinking, BIPV technology allows us to be even more creative whilst being environmentally conscious.
Sustainability does not have to be expensive and nor do you need to comprise on the integrity of a design by using more sustainable solutions.
Lighting is a great example as it is a key part of Interior Design yet also consumes a large amount of energy. Traditional light bulbs can use up to four times more energy than low-energy bulbs – these also last up to ten times longer and therefore reduce the costs of replacing on a continuous basis. By using a range of lighting dimmers, motion detectors and energy-efficient lighting, you can further reduce energy cost and usage.
Another great example is the use of high-quality curtains, sheers and blinds - another important aspect of any interior design project. According to energy conservation consultants ‘Community Energy Plus’ 18% of a building’s heat is lost through the windows of the building. By specifying heavier curtains, it has been shown to reduce heat loss through windows by up to 14%, as shown in a 2008 study by the ‘Caledonian Glasgow University’. Furthermore, choosing more natural fabrics such as organic wool, linen or recycled fibres for curtains and wood from renewable sources for shutters and blinds, can offer further eco-friendly alternatives for designers.
Other great illustrations on how to achieve affordable sustainability can be found in Flooring, Paints, Eco-Fabrics and even Technology. Nowadays there is a vast number of eco-friendly bathroom products available to consumers and designers alike. Purchasing towels made of organic cotton or bamboo, recycled plastic shower curtains and shower tiles created from 100% recycled glass are all becoming more widely used and are proven to use less energy during the laundry process.
Accessories also provide opportunities for sustainability. Consumers and Designers should opt for more timeless designs that do not become dated over the years. Using good quality items that are also durable can have a very positive monetary outcome in the long run.
Our projects where we have utilised LED lighting with crystals to reflect and increase the effect without additional fixtures and curtains to deflect the sun and retain the cool.