Are Technology-Driven Interiors Greener?

green plant in bulb

Much as technology has infiltrated almost all facets of the modern lifestyle – iPads replacing magazines in the bathroom being one growing example – it is now infiltrating the interior designs of our homes. Interior designers are increasingly incorporating technological elements into their clients’ spaces, with high-tech leanings expanding traditional design possibilities.

According to interior stylist Lisa Canning, the move to technology-based design is as much about livability and the maintaining a modern way of life as anything.

“We’re outfitting our home with some great technology to make our lives easier,” she said of her recent personal project.

However, while it is commonly accepted that the adoption of technology allows people to do more, create and earn more and basically live a more connected lifestyle – though some will argue that technology actually breaks down connections between individuals by eliminating face-to-face communication – there is an increasing correlation between technologically inclusive spaces and green living.

This correlation between tech and green prompts the question: are technology-driven interiors greener?

Standing at the backbone of the tech-equals-green debate is the simple paperless nature often reflected in highly tech-savvy spaces. Office buildings in particular have made going paperless a cornerstone of their green model, supporting sustainable tree growth and eliminating unnecessary paper waste.

No Paper

While the ideology of waste elimination is a green notion, putting a heavier reliance on computers and other energy driven technologies can actually offer to make a space less carbon efficient. The internet itself, with its heavy reliance on servers and the coolers needed to run them, is not a zero-carbon space, with Greenpeace’s ‘How Dirty Is Your Data’ research paper proving that some providers can leave a marked carbon footprint.

So while going paperless represents a green vision, and is certainly effective in supporting sustainable tree growth, it is but one element that needs to be considered when creating a tech-savvy green space.

There is also the basic notion of energy efficiency, with technological updates crucial in reducing the carbon output of interior spaces. Methods used include energy efficient air conditioners, heaters and lighting, with the latter relevant to all interior spaces.

LED lighting stands as one of the most energy efficient lighting solutions on the market. LEDs have been heralded by a Phillips Round Table session of three interior designers to be the hottest trending mainstream solution to the lighting needs of all in the industry. It is no mean feat for a green product to move into the mainstream market – and the ability of LEDs to do so certainly shows its wider appeal and effectiveness as a green technology. In that sense, this technological addition is certainly making spaces greener.

smart meter

On the flip side, however, energy efficient lighting of this nature is still deemed too expensive for some and that lack of economic sustainability lowers its green impact.

Nonetheless, technology has had a strong positive influence on one of the greatest green enablers – awareness. Through highly collaborative carbon tracking systems and smart meters, homeowners, building inhabitants and industry developments can now be made aware of their carbon footprint, a point of which has facilitated the implementation of major carbon emissions trading programs and carbon taxes.

While there is no easy black-and-white answer as to technology’s impact on the environment, like most things green, it all about maximising the potential of products and technologies in a way that is holistic.

By Emily D’Alterio
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