Sustainable Design Globally
Healthy homes and cities in Norway, Germany and Australia
Homeowners globally are greening their homes on various levels. We actually do not know the number of green homes in each country because the number is constantly changing. Many homeowners fall into different categories, such as needing to lower their utility bills each month, wanting to help reduce their overall environmental impact on the planet, and their concern about their health in regards to indoor air quality.
While the effort of one person going green will not make much of a difference, there are whole countries that have increased their efforts in order to reduce the impact on the environment. Some countries are motivated because they are witnessing the effects of global warming. Colombia, Cuba, Austria and Norway to name a few countries are setting the stage for creating a greener planet.
Norway already feels the consequences of the global warming, as its northern parts are close to the melting Arctic, so they are taking many measures to prevent any possible catastrophic scenario. Norway’s government and their people are making every effort to become carbon neutral by 2030, although it is an oil export oriented country. They plan to make diesel fuel more expensive so they can motivate people to use eco-fuels.
Oslo the Norwegian capitol won the European Sustainability City Award in 2003, and has worked relentlessly to reduce greenhouse gases, offering electric car charging stations, and improving public transportation.
Germans are always looking for affordable and environmentally sustainable ways to maintain life. The southwest city of Freiburg is a perfect example of sustainability. It is known as Germany’s eco-capital where about 35% of residents do not own a car and new homes routinely incorporate photovoltaic panels. Germany’s law has made energy saving designs compulsory for homes built after 2009. Just two decades ago, Freiburg was a sleepy 12th century village and has transformed into a progressive 21st century city that is designated as the world’s first eco-municipality. Energy- efficient technology is scattered throughout Freiburg from the Strandbad swimming pool, which is heated by solar thermal, to the university’s clinic, which uses the same technology. Freiburg’s hotels are Zero-Emission hotels. In the United States, we continue to talk about Zero-Energy houses as the ideal example of social and environmental consciousness, while in Germany they are building Plus-Energy houses, which produce more energy than they consume.
Australia was the first country to phase out inefficient incandescent bulbs by 2010, replacing them with fluorescent and other efficient lighting technologies. Their goal was to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and cutting household lighting costs up to 66 percent. A similar incandescent bulb proscription has taken place in the U.K and California.
Sydney residents have intensified their quest for carbon neutrality. They now have a state-of-the-art food-waste disposal program and a new Green Square. The Green Square was conceived, designed, and created to provide world-class residential, commercial and cultural spaces with hopes of making their city become the Emerald City of the southern hemisphere.
Have you thought about what you are going to do this year to the green your home, town or city?
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Lynn Hoffman, IIDA, RID, LEED® - AP ID+C, is a Sustainable Interior Designer with more than 25 years experience working nationally and internationally producing Corporate, Hospitality and Prestigious Residential projects for Fortune 500 and celebrity clients, architects and builders. Her office is located in downtown Stamford, CT and offers a full range of services dedicated to elevating eco-conscious designs to new levels of luxury and sophistication.
One Stamford Plaza
263 Tresser Boulevard, 9th Floor
Stamford, CT 06901
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Photograph: Melani Lust Photography