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How to Build a Sustainable Interior Design Business

business admin

A green er future for your interior design studio awaits.

Words by 

Sophia Angel Lou Quiachon

Published on 

October 27, 2023

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With climate change continuing to impact our daily lives, businesses are having to take steps to make their operations and offerings more sustainable, and the interior design industry is no exception.

Interior design and construction is a notoriously wasteful sector. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the construction sector was responsible for 62% of the total waste produced in the UK in 2018. Interior designers struggle to stay green when their process inherently requires an abundance of material and carbon-emitting deliveries.

Evidently, better sustainable practices are needed in the interior design industry. As the interior design industry continues to innovate, sustainability must be a part of the vision.

Focusing your efforts on sustainability also benefits your business. Implementing eco-friendly initiatives into your interior design business has the power to draw in investors, clients, and top talent to your business.

Many interior designers do strive to be more sustainable, but what does a sustainable interior design studio really look like and is it achievable for the average interior designer? We have compiled a 6-step strategy to help you take your first step in becoming a more sustainable and environmentally conscious interior design business.

What does it take to be a sustainable interior design business?

triple bottom line'. To become sustainable, your business should manifest the three Ps—profit, people, and planet. This highlights the balance between meeting people's needs, protecting the environment, and making money.

Depending on how your interior design business operates, your eco-friendly journey could span from making minor adjustments to your process to reconstructing your entire operations.

You'll need to shut down all environmentally harmful practices and find greener alternatives moving forward.

Characteristics of a sustainable interior design business:

  • Less use of energy, water, and resources
  • Uses renewable energy
  • Low waste production
  • Promotes sustainability education
  • Supports sustainable partners and suppliers

How sustainable practices can benefit your interior design business

Build organisational resilience

Sustainable business strategies do not only positively cont are made to last and self-sustain.

For this reason, having a sustainable business plan minimises the impact of economic uncertainties like rising energy costs. Furthermore, this makes it easier for you to meet new regulatory requirements in the future.

Enhance brand reputation

Action speaks louder than words. Going green shows prospective clients that you don't just care about making a profit, but you care about your impact on the world as well.

A growing number of clients are choosing services that align with their moral standings, and a commitment to sustainable practices will leave a positive impression on this growing clientele.

Increase sales

Clients and investors now have an eye for brands with environmental accountability. As a result, companies with high environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings have a higher return on investment as clients are more willing to spend more for sustainability.

Sustainable business practices for interior designers

Getting educated on the current state of the environment is the first step to making your business more sustainable. The next steps will depend on you and the type of business you're running!

Read through six actionable eco-friendly business practices and take your pick now:

Calculate your carbon footprint

Before anything else, it's important to know where your business currently stands.

Calculating your carbon footprint is the best place to start your sustainable journey. It provides you with invaluable information that outlines what practices produce the most emissions and how to work around them.

You can use Carbon Trust's online calculator to track your direct and indirect emissions or follow the guide on how to measure greenhouse gas emissions by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Implement a hybrid or remote work setup

Have tasks that can be managed online? Work remotely!

Hybrid or remote work setups consume less electricity and produce less waste. Since employees mostly work at home, less is spent on transport fuel and electricity. This strategy is especially popular among creative businesses!

If that's not possible, you can opt to promote green transport like walking, cycling, or using public transportation instead. You can give green incentives, invest in shared shuttle services or carpools, or set up exclusive bicycle parking spots for your employees.

Choose eco-friendly alternatives

When shopping for appliances for yourself or clients, always prefer energy-efficient options. With less energy consumption, you and your clients can effectively decrease your carbon footprint and cut down the energy bill in the next years! Bonus: Energy-efficient appliances enhance air quality because of their low carbon emissions.

Here are some promising eco-friendly appliances to invest in:

  • Cool roofs
  • LED lighting
  • Solar panels
  • Smart plugs

Partner with sustainable vendors

If you outsource your materials, ask yourself these questions—where do they get their materials from? Do they practice fair trade? Do they pay their workers right?

As an advocate for the common good, you'll want to support businesses that share the same values. So take time to run a quick background check on potential partners to make sure you're sourcing from ethical manufacturing.

You can do so by visiting their workplace and observing the operations firsthand. You can also connect with their previous clients and browse comments and other reviews.

Promote sustainable brands

The promotion of sustainable solutions in your project designs and consultations can be a great way to become more environmentally mindful.

If you're an interior designer, you can recommend using eco-friendly appliances or locally-sourced materials to your clients. Similarly, stylists can recommend clothing brands that advocate against animal cruelty.

Showing a burning passion for the environment is the key to attracting like-minded clients!

Reduce, reuse and recycle packaging

The simple act of recycling avoids excessive waste being produced by your business. Instead of single-use plastics, use reusable containers or biodegradable materials to create recyclable packaging.

The switch of mindset goes a long way. You could even ask suppliers delivering packages to your office to keep reusing the same boxes and packaging when making scheduled deliveries. Oftentimes now there are even options for minimal packing, reducing the amount of waste you produce.

Continue to learn and improve your practice

Visualist is a software empowering creative professionals to work, earn and scale their businesses. Learn more here.

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