ASID: Getting Greener

March 26, 2007
By Suzan Globus, FASID

Like many an overnight sensation, green design has been around a lot longer than most of us probably realize. Its roots reach back to the environmentalist movement of the late 1960s, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as an increase in public interest in conserving resources and reducing the pollutants that threaten the health and welfare of our planet.

Interest in sustainability resurged in the late 80s as concern about global warming, world oil supplies and solid waste disposal became headline news. It was around this time that ASID began to get involved, working with the EPA, energy companies and designers on the Green Light program, the predecessor to Energy Star®, as well as on other private and public plans. Since that time, ASID has engaged in various initiatives to encourage its members to become well informed about green design as the Society continues to expand its efforts to engage the public on the subject of sustainability.

In 1989, ASID offered its first CEU on sustainable design, and in 1993 it became a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Recognizing the growing importance of sustainability in the building industry, the ASID board of directors declared sustainable design an area of strategic focus for the Society in 2002 and established a sustainable design council, composed of green specialists from both commercial and residential design, and chaired by former national president Penny Bonda, FASID.

Serving as spokespersons, educators and contributors to the Society's publications and Web site, as well as advisors to the board, council members have helped ASID become a leading resource for interior designers on green and sustainable issues. Since the council was established, ASID has added a sustainable design resource center to its Web site; sponsored CEUs on sustainable design at NeoCon events and other design conferences throughout the United States and Canada; featured a sustainable design track at its annual INTERIORS conference; and hosted several presentations by Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson.

ASID reports regularly on green topics in its publications, produces a guide for establishing a green interior design practice, and works with the trade and popular media to better educate professionals and the public about this vital topic. Through the ASID Foundation, the Society is a major sponsor of the record-breaking "Green House" exhibition now on display through June 3 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., after which it will travel to a number of other U.S. cities.

ASID is proud of its contributions to raising awareness about green design, but we know we still have much to do. The next step is to advance from principle to practice. Our goal is to green the entire ASID membership, so that every designer makes sustainability an integral part of his or her practice. To that end, ASID recently has made several major contributions to furthering the body of knowledge on green and sustainable interior design:

  • The Society inaugurated a new series of professional papers on sustainability and green topics developed especially for professional interior designers. The first five papers in this series address indoor air quality, materials and products, marketing green design services, integrating interior design with other sustainable building approaches and practices, and a reference guide of useful terms, tools and resources.

  • The first two books published under ASID's partnership with John Wiley & Sons provide fundamental information and guidance for creating green interiors. They are Sustainable Commercial Interiors by Penny Bonda, FASID and Katie Sosnowchik, and Sustainable Residential Interiors by the Denver-based firm, Associates III.

  • At Greenbuild 2006, ASID announced a partnership with USGBC to develop guidelines for consumers and professional designers on how to green the interiors of existing homes. This effort will include the creation of a dedicated Web site, as well as educational programs and other information resources.

And of course, sustainability will be a major focus of INTERIORS 07 in San Francisco, March 15-18, with workshops and CEUs on a variety of sustainable topics. Plus, the conference itself has been designed to be green and sustainable.

Our vision of a green ASID extends beyond practice to our larger sphere of influence. We are working to assist all of our members in becoming advocates for sustainable design by educating their clients, suppliers, and contractors about the importance and benefits of sustainable buildings and interiors. We look to design students, educators, and design education organizations to weave sustainable design education throughout the curriculum, and we encourage new professionals to ground their practices and businesses in sustainable principles. We will also work with our industry partner members to support and promote those manufacturers who are responding to the need for sustainable products and implementing sustainable manufacturing processes.

With more than 38,000 members, ASID is in a unique position to make a difference in continuing the education and promotion of sustainable design practices. The first steps have been tremendously successful, and we look forward to the next leg of the journey. We invite all in the industry—designers, students and manufacturers—to walk with us.

ASID president Suzan Globus, FASID, is an award-winning interior designer who consults on public, educational and museum libraries. She is a principal of Globus Design Associates in Red Bank, NJ. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480 or [email protected], and on the Web at

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