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Sustainable Interior Designer
Sustainable interior design creates interior spaces using design principles such as functionality, accessibility, and aesthetics and expands the focus to include environmental considerations. For example, sustainable design projects are influenced by such factors as planning efficient use of space, choosing materials with low environmental impacts, and reducing energy consumption, pollution, and waste. Sustainable interior designers are committed to finding ways to balance aesthetics and functionality with choices that reduce the environmental impact of their designs.
At a glanceImagine you are standing in the middle of a busy emergency room in a brand-new, state-of-the-art hospital. But you are not injured; you're here to evaluate the hospital's interior. You are a sustainable interior designer and part of the team that created this space. You and your team spent countless hours working with architects, engineers, and suppliers to create a design for the hospital's interior that balanced the functionality necessary to operate a busy hospital with environmental considerations. As a sustainable interior designer, you didn't have an easy go of it, designing the interior of an environmentally friendly hospital. For example, all materials and products had to meet environmental standards as well as the durability needs of a 24-hour health care facility. You chose to use linoleum rather than vinyl flooring because linoleum is made substantially from jute, a naturally occurring fibre, and possesses natural bacteria-resistant properties that make it a perfect choice for a hospital. You also chose to use scrubbable cotton wall coverings because vinyl is known to be highly toxic. Even the choice of carpeting in the hospital's offices was based on the sample's high percentage of recycled content, and the adhesive used to glue down the flooring was chosen because it has a low toxic emission rate. Wherever possible, you chose to use local materials to reduce the need for long-distance transportation. The finished product also incorporates strategies for reducing energy consumption and highlights opportunities for reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, including numerous recycling bins on every ward. Every design element in the new hospital is a choice to reduce environmental impact while still being durable enough to prove functional in this busy hospital.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a sustainable interior designer:
- Participate on project teams with other consultants to find integrated, innovative, and interdisciplinary solutions to design.
- Consult with clients to establish design concepts and parameters, including how the space will function, budget considerations, and aesthetic preferences.
- Generate conceptual designs using a variety of graphic techniques, including hand-drawn and computer-generated visuals, and prepare preliminary cost estimates.
- Present design concepts to team members and clients for approval.
- Prepare written specifications, working drawings, and construction documents, including verification that designs meet applicable building codes where necessary.
- Prepare tender drawings for contractors to price.
- Choose materials and suppliers and coordinate installation.
- Supervise construction and monitor quality, progress, and cost.
Work environmentSustainable interior designers work in a variety of locations, including: In the office:
- Doing paperwork, administering contracts, and preparing reports
- Developing design plans and construction details and coordinating with other disciplines
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, contractors, colleagues, consultants, and suppliers
- Researching new materials
- Visiting construction sites and performing site inspections
- Making presentations to stakeholders, clients, and contractors
- Visiting suppliers to select and buy materials and researching the processes used to make certain products
- Attending seminars and trade shows
Where to workThere are a number of places sustainable interior designers can find employment. They include:
- Interior design firms
- Architectural firms
- Self-employed consultant
- Construction firms
- Material suppliers
- Large corporations designing offices and retail space
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as a sustainable interior designer, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Computer Science
- Interior Design
- Environmental Design