Why Green Design Is Essential for Our Homes and Public Spaces

Ainsley Lawrence
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The benefits provided by green design are many and increasing. Sustainably designed homes and apartment buildings can save money and produce less waste, while greening up our public spaces can provide numerous health benefits and create a greater sense of community in our neighborhoods.  

In today’s world, a greener, more sustainably designed home and public space may be even more than these individualized benefits. Rather, these designs can go a long way towards saving the planet all together. In the face of a rapidly changing climate at an ever-closer tipping point, sustainably minded changes and proactive responses can be the difference that keeps us from experiencing the worst fallout of a changing environment. 

A More Sustainable Home

Creating a more sustainable home can have numerous benefits on multiple scales. One of the most straightforward benefits of a sustainable home is that it is designed to save both water and energy. Water savings may come from things like low-flow plumbing systems or rainwater runoff catchments. For larger buildings, water savings may be seen in gray water recycling systems, such as those that use leftover laundry water for watering the landscaping.  

Energy savings can also come in all sorts of forms. The most common include retrofits like replacing old appliances with Energy Star rated ones that use less energy to accomplish tasks. Likewise, replacing windows, improving insulation, utilizing programmable thermostats, and other upgrade projects can help conserve energy in the home and ultimately save a lot of money. 

Renewable energy technology has come a long way too. Today, it is more reasonable and achievable than ever to install solar panels on a home to reduce dependence upon the grid or even produce all of the energy your home needs. Not surprisingly, this is one of the many types of energy solutions that will be needed to diversify our energy grid and make us less reliant on fossil fuels and more resilient to global energy market changes.  

Real Public Health Benefits

Green design both in the home and in public spaces also has a number of very real health benefits. For example, many experts believe that more sustainably designed homes may actually produce better indoor air quality. This is done through better air filtration processes and the incorporation of more fresh air into buildings. 

But outdoor spaces that are more sustainable can also provide a variety of health benefits. For instance, healthcare researchers have long supported the benefits of green spaces for both mental and physical health. Individuals are more likely to walk to and spend time in green spaces than more anthropogenically altered spaces. Things like spending more time walking have surprising health benefits for those of all ages.

The mental health benefits of green public spaces are also not to be understated. Plenty of research suggests that spending time outdoors can significantly lower feelings of anxiety, stress, and mild to moderate depression. Time spent outside can also help boost the brain’s production of serotonin, which is a mood regulating chemical. Likewise, exposure to the sun can help the body process more vitamin D which can play a role in mental health, improve calcium absorption, and benefit the immune system.  

Additional research indicates that small amounts of time spent outdoors regularly is more beneficial than one big dose once or twice a year. This means that having regular access to nature via a park or other community green space is more valuable than that one ‘getting back to nature’ camping trip every year. Ultimately, this means that it is essential for our communities to prioritize green design in our homes and public green spaces. 

A More Resilient Future

All of these small efforts add up to a much larger success story for all of us. Making our homes more sustainable and investing in more public green spaces not only reduces our reliance on non-renewable energy sources and improves our health outcomes, but it also helps to make our communities more resilient to climate change in the future. Given that we are already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate, it is essential that we invest in preparing and many countries are already making strides in that direction

This can mean a lot of things. For instance, building homes, apartment complexes, and commercial infrastructure with both sustainability and resilience in mind is critical. This means focusing on buildings that are less energy intense, incorporate new, more sustainable materials, and recycle waste products more effectively. It also means designs that are more capable of surviving more intense natural disasters and climate conditions. 

In our green spaces and natural areas, it really means making an effort. These spaces not only benefit us, but also clean the air and water, provide habitat for thousands of other species, and support millions of ecosystem processes that keep everything running smoothly. Efforts like those to plant more trees are pivotal to all of this and a foundational approach to improving the environments we all depend upon. 


Green design isn’t just something that we can benefit from doing in our homes, though it is a very important aspect. Rather, green design is a tool that can improve our lives and the lives of the community members we interact with. On a grander scale, it can improve the outcomes of the entire globe. Designing green and sustainable environments and infrastructure is a core component of reducing our energy consumption, conserving valuable resources, improving mental health outcomes, and making our homes, communities, and planet more resilient to a changing climate. We can make a difference and all of our small differences really do begin to add up to the big differences that will make our home thrive.

Green design refers to the practice of creating products, buildings, or systems that have a reduced negative impact on the environment and promote ecological sustainability. It involves incorporating design principles and strategies that minimize resource consumption, reduce waste, and prioritize the use of renewable materials.

Green design, also known as sustainable design, plays a vital role in promoting sustainability by considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of design decisions. It aims to minimize negative environmental effects while maximizing the positive benefits for both people and the planet. Green design incorporates principles such as energy efficiency, use of renewable materials, waste reduction, and consideration of the lifecycle impact of products or buildings. By integrating sustainable practices into design processes, green design helps reduce resource consumption, minimize pollution, and create healthier and more sustainable environments.

Three common characteristics of green design include:

a) Environmental Responsibility: Green design prioritizes minimizing the negative environmental impact of products, buildings, or systems. It focuses on energy efficiency, waste reduction, use of sustainable materials, and consideration of the product’s or building’s lifecycle impact.

b) Resource Efficiency: Green design aims to optimize the use of resources, including energy, water, and materials. It promotes practices such as energy-efficient design, water conservation, recycling and reuse, and minimizing material waste.

c) Health and Well-being: Green design recognizes the importance of creating healthy and comfortable spaces for people. It emphasizes factors like indoor air quality, natural lighting, thermal comfort, and the use of non-toxic materials to promote the well-being and productivity of occupants.

Barriers to adopting green practices can vary depending on different contexts, but some common barriers include:

a) Cost: Upfront costs associated with implementing green design strategies or using sustainable materials can sometimes be higher than conventional alternatives, posing a financial challenge for some individuals or organizations.

b) Lack of Awareness: Limited knowledge or awareness about green design principles and the benefits of sustainability can be a barrier. Education and awareness-building efforts are crucial to overcome this barrier.

c) Resistance to Change: People may be resistant to change established practices or may perceive green design as an inconvenience or disruption to their routines. Overcoming resistance requires effective communication, highlighting the long-term benefits, and providing support during the transition.

Emerging trends in green design include:

a) Biophilic Design: Incorporating elements of nature, such as natural lighting, greenery, and natural materials, to create spaces that promote well-being and connection to the natural world.

b) Net-Zero Buildings: Designing buildings that produce as much energy as they consume, typically through energy-efficient design, renewable energy systems, and smart building technologies.

c) Circular Design: Shifting towards a circular economy model where products are designed for durability, repairability, and recyclability to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency.

The terms “sustainable design” and “green design” are often used interchangeably and have overlapping concepts. Sustainable design encompasses a broader approach to design that considers environmental, social, and economic factors to create long-lasting and responsible solutions. Green design specifically focuses on reducing environmental impact and promoting ecological sustainability through design strategies and material choices.

Green design refers to the design practices and strategies that aim to minimize environmental impact and promote ecological sustainability. It specifically focuses on the environmental aspects of sustainability. Sustainability, on the other hand, is a broader concept that encompasses environmental, social, and economic dimensions. It refers to the ability to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Green design is a part of the larger framework of sustainability, addressing the environmental component.

Ainsley Lawrence

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