"I like to point out to my clients that first and foremost, you have to make design decisions that are practical for you and your family," says Cuker. "Reuse or repurpose items that are still workable, and when buying new items, buy items that are high quality and timeless. If something is not practical or falls apart or goes out of style, I don’t care what percent of its contents were recycled, or whether it came from a certified forest. It’s still heading for a landfill a lot sooner than a well-made piece whose style is enduring. In this way being a good LEED designer does not actually differ from just being a really good, thoughtful interior designer, period."
"LEED designers are educated about the type of materials and finishes used in residential interiors — we use this knowledge to help our clients create homes that are healthy for their families and the environment." says Jones. "We reduce carbon footprint by sourcing locally, specify sustainable and responsibly harvested wood, and source and repurpose vintage furniture to reduce waste."
She continues, "I must admit I don’t always know the answer, but I always raise the question, so that if there’s a choice that’s sustainable and local, and practical and beautiful, we can have more confidence about the sustainability of our design decisions."
"Indoor air quality is one of our main concerns when selecting furniture, paint, cabinets and carpets," says Jones. "As green designers, we educate our clients on which products off-gas harmful chemicals, and we eliminate or reduce the use of these as much as possible."
"Our design landscape can look homogenized if you source all your interior accoutrements from chain stores," she adds. "But something that’s been handed down will have personal history. And if it stuck around this long, it is likely to be of better quality than many objects currently being produced. For example, these are my parents’ 40-year-old orange crushed-velvet sofas [shown], which have now taken up residence in my living room."
"There are many reasons why homeowners may want a LEED certification," Cuker says. "Maybe they feel that adhering to the LEED standard will ensure a certain level of indoor air quality and health for the occupants, or maybe they believe they will get better resale value on their home, or maybe they just believe that by having a home that is certified, they are setting a good public example for others to follow."
She continues, "But homeowners should know that it takes a large amount of administrative effort, and associated professional fees, to obtain the official certification. A nonrated home could be every bit as green as long as it employs sustainable strategies. Don’t let the hassle of going through the certification process stand in the way of making the healthiest design decisions possible. Do what’s right for your home and the planet, whether or not you decide to participate in the LEED certification process."
She offers this advice: "LEED has the most widely recognized brand name for green building certification, thanks to the hard work of the U.S. Green Building Council. But LEED is just one tool to measure the sustainability of a home. There are others out there as well, and homeowners may want to investigate alternatives and decide what’s right for them."