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Gently green conversations with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Fall in Love with Your Bedroom

Trudy Dujardin

“When I woke up this morning, my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said, ‘No, I made a few mistakes.'”–Stephen Wright, American Comic

It’s hard to seriously imagine making mistakes while you’re sleeping, but if you’re designing a bedroom, there are good and better choices for your lifelong health. During sleep, your body works to remove any toxins that you were exposed to during the day.  A beautiful, serene environment that soothes you at the end of your day is best when it also supports your health.

Sleep is the time for cellular repair, for rejuvenation, for restoration of energy and health for both body and mind.That’s why, more than any other room in the house, you want your bedroom to be a pristine environment. You may be surprised to learn that your bedroom can be a repository of potentially harmful chemicals. Conventional mattresses, for example, are made with petroleum-based polyester and polyurethane foam, then treated with flame retardants. Those chemicals can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that become part of the air you breathe.

Pillows are also often made of synthetic materials that are treated with chemical finishing agents. Other sources of possible chemical contamination: Carpets, wall paint, wood furniture, even your cotton pajamas. With everything else you have on your mind, you don’t need worries about the health of your bedroom to keep you up at night.

Fortunately, there are products available to ensure your rest is undisturbed by allergens, toxins, or chemical vapors. For my interior design clients, I recommend using natural furnishings and finishes free of formaldehyde, VOCs, and petroleum-based products. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure a healthful night’s sleep:

Choose low or no-VOC paints for your walls and wood trim. Paints can emit VOCs over a long period of time, so just airing out the room may not be sufficient.

Choose hardwood floors (easiest to clean), finish them with water-based sealants (one of my favorites is Basic Coatings), and finally, cover them with organic wool or cotton area rugs.

Select an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure your pillows are natural as well. You can find pillows filled with organic wool or natural latex foam, and covered with organic cotton. Non-organic cotton is a heavily-toxin laden fabric. Cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such as chromium, copper, and zinc.

When choosing wood furniture, consider eco-friendly wood products that are FSC-certified, a designation from the Forest Stewardship Council ensuring that the wood was grown and harvested in a way that protects forests for the long term. Antique furniture is beautiful, and has the added benefit of no longer emitting harmful gases from wood or finishes.

Clear the air by adding a room air-purifier, or go one step further and install a central filtration system. Models are available that filter particulates (pollen, dander, and mold) and vapors (formaldehyde).

Remember that a good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If you follow even one of these suggestions, you’ll be taking a step forward in improving the health of yourself, your family, and the earth. After many years of devoting my work to sustainable design, my clients tell me they sleep easy. I want that for you as well.

LEED Accredited: Why It Matters

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There are few people who haven’t heard the term LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) at this point, whether it is applied to a building project (LEED certified)  or an individual (LEED accredited). When a project receives a LEED rating, it signifies that the building saves energy, reduces pollution, uses fewer resources, and contributes to healthier environments.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) oversees the LEED certification and accreditation process,  They maintain an immense infrastructure to offer support to industry leaders to create innovative and cutting edge homes and buildings. I’m a longterm member of the Council.  My commitment to green building and design dates back to 1987, long before “green” or “sustainable” was a part of industry vernacular.

I’ve built, renovated, designed and lived in a number of “green” homes, and have been privileged to educate my clients and friends about the importance of sustainability. Not all Dujardin Design projects are green, but I try to incorporate green elements wherever there is an opportunity. We happily do every thing from deep green to “gently green” and everything in between.

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I’ve studied to become accredited, and am proud to have the designation LEED AP +ID + C behind my name.  Specifically, that means that I am a LEED Accredited Professional, with a further designation in Interior Design + Construction. The LEED exam I passed measured my ability to support green design, construction and operations. (The exam is a four and a half hour, two part, two hundred question assessment of the candidate’s understanding of LEED , and requires work on a LEED registered project within the past three years.)

Why is this important?  It’s a measurement of knowledge and ability.  It reinforces a commitment to green building. And it emphasizes skills in areas such as energy conservation, reduction in water consumption, improving indoor air quality, and making better building material choices. It’s about environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The USGBC community shares a common goal: everyone learns, works and lives in a green building within this generation.

That’s a goal I’m proud to support.  I hope you’ll do your part to support LEED building projects, too.

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