As issues such as global warming, shrinking rain forests and overflowing landfills move to the top of our national agenda, environmental considerations have taken a higher priority among interior designers as well. These days, a kitchen renovation can't just tuck a small garbage receptacle beneath the sink; bulky recycling containers have to be accommodated. And concerns about air quality and toxic substances from lead paint to floor finishes are commonplace. Today's designer should be equipped to answer questions and solve problems that take the environment into account, a service their clients have come to expect.
Energy conservation is a concern that goes back decades, stemming from our dependence on foreign oil. These days, however, more can be done to save energy and protect our environment than simply turning off the lights when you leave the room. Your designer should be recom-meding these environmentally-friendly changes during any renovation job.
While the rewards of using more energy-efficient lighting, such as fluorescents, might seem obvious, there are other rewards. Some light bulbs generate more heat than others, which, in the summer, means a greater burden is put on your air conditioning system. Reducing air conditioning demand in your home not only helps your pocketbook but also reduces your overall use of electricity.
Your designer can suggest other tips for energy conservation. Ceiling fans, which can be visually atmospheric, can also increase your air conditioning's efficiency by circulating cooled air during those hot summer days. In the winter, the rotation of the blades can be reversed to push rising hot air down towards floor level, thereby aiding your heating system.
Although quite common in other areas of the country, recycling of glass, plastic, metals and newspapers is only now becoming commonplace in New York City. Of course in an urban environment like ours, it is more difficult to accommodate than elsewhere, if only because space is at such a premium. Should a renovation of your living space be plannedespecially changes to the kitchenincorporating an area for appropriate recycling containers is a wise move. Making recycling easy is the best way to ensure compliance (and avoid big fines) because for most of us there are always reasons why we can't be bothered as long as it is much easier to just throw it all in the garbage.