When redesigning your home, there are small things you can keep in mind to create a more sustainable space. “There are so many harmful and carcinogenic substances in this world that we ingest,” says Richmond decorator Jill Irwin, president of Jill Irwin Interiors LLC. “We only live once. Take the time to do your research and do it right. You’re not only doing yourself a favor, but you’re also helping our environment.”
R.Home spoke to Irwin, an advocate of using sustainable products, to learn about the small things you can do to take responsibility for your home’s environmental impact.
RHome: How do you incorporate sustainable materials into your designs?
Jill Irwin: We incorporate sustainable materials wherever possible. Many manufacturers are realizing that they need to be proactive in making their products safer and more attractive to end users. The one I use most often is a high-performance fabric made from PVC-free polyethylene. [polyvinyl chloride] Or vinyl contains harmful chemicals. Next time you choose a fabric, consider polycarbonate fabric instead of polyether or polyester. Not only do you get an incredibly durable fabric, but it’s also completely recyclable.
RHome: Are there ways that simple decisions like choosing low-VOC paints can reduce pollution while renovating a home?
Erwin: VOCs, volatile organic compounds should be avoided. Sadly, they live in most of the branded homes you buy. During the planning stages of a renovation, I always tell my clients to do some research and think about themselves, their families, and their health.
RHome: What certifications should homeowners look out for when purchasing resources for their homes?
Erwin: There are now so many certifications available to everyone from architects, builders and real estate agents to designers. Be as green as possible and look for environmental certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or Green Globe for multifamily housing. These are two of the most notable, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Sustainable Furniture Council.
RHome: Do you have any recommendations for resources in Richmond to get local and recycled materials for your home?
Erwin: Fun fact, just type in “RVA sustainable resources” or your area in Google. Through my own research, the Sustainable Furniture Council has become near and dear to my heart. I have attended numerous educational events featuring experts in this growing field who are leading the charge in raising awareness. To join us in protecting our health and protecting our environment, please visit EPA’s website.