Sustainable Design Trends for 2016

Sustainable Design Trends for 2016

What are the latest and greatest trends in sustainable design?

Am I doing all I can to incorporate and capitalize on those trends?

Whether you are a builder, architect, designer – or consumer – these are the million dollar questions.  Having graduated with an M.S. in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University and being LEED design certified, I tend to hear these questions all the time, which is why I was thrilled when KGA asked me to write a guest blog to answer these important and constantly evolving questions.

We are very lucky to live in an era where the majority of manufacturers are conscientious of their impact today, and in the long term, to mother earth.  This means we have more amazingly cool, trend-setting and affordable options available than ever before! But options can often be overwhelming, and with sustainable being thrown around to describe just about everything, how can anyone feel confident their selections truly are environmentally friendly? At TRIO we have developed a quick litmus test for evaluating products. They must be designed by companies employing the following three sustainable practices:

  1. Reduce their environmental footprint and increase their water/energy conservation.
  2. Develop more environmentally favorable products that are also economical
  3. Drive awareness and education around social equality

Based on this premise, I am highlighting some of my favorite “green” and “trend-setting” products and brands that can be used throughout your home:


Over the years, Kohler has had a strong commitment to sustainability.  Part of this commitment includes reducing their carbon and industrial-waste footprint to achieve a net-zero environmental footprint by 2035.  They are focused on educating the consumer, creating water efficient products, and redesigning packaging to reduce waste.

Loure Water Saving Faucet by Kohler
Loure Water Saving Faucet by Kohler

Loure Water Saving Faucet:  This product is the best of all worlds.  Both stylish and smart; it offers a modern design with clean smooth lines and has been labeled as a WaterSense product by the EPA.  This faucet has low-flow aerators which result in up to 45% water savings over traditional faucets.

Archer Widespread Water Saving and Economical Faucet by Kohler
Archer Widespread Water Saving and Economical Faucet by Kohler

Archer Widespread Water Saving and Economical Faucet: Kohler describes this style as a combination of Craftsmen furniture and intricate jewelry.  This line also includes the WaterSense approval at a more affordable price.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood was the “it” trend in 2015 and was everywhere we looked.  However, I don’t care what anybody says, doing the right thing by being environmentally friendly is timeless and will never go out of style.  Reclaimed wood adds a sense of coziness and comfort that resonates with most people.  It can be paired with almost any other material to create a one-of-a-kind look, i.e. tile, brick, metal, concrete…the list goes on.  This trend is here to stay.

Reclaimed wood adds a nice rustic touch to this white kitchen
Reclaimed wood creates a relaxed and cozy ambiance in this hotel room


Eco First Art
Looking for something unique, exquisite and environmentally friendly? Eco First Art is an online resource developed by architects and interior designers to assist them in easily finding eco-friendly products, including furniture and art. Everything featured is created by artists residing within North America and all of the products are made from reused materials, recycled products and ecologically sustainable resources.  Check out this Eames inspired chair made from wine bottle corks.

Eames inspired chair made from corks from


Bodner Chandeliers
Bodner Chandeliers are works of art that also happen to be focused on being eco-friendly.  Its designers timeless creations stand-out in any design style.  I am in love with the Woodweave collection.  The Pono is a hand-sculpted, woven pendant chandelier that uses sustainably harvested Koa wood from the Big Island of Hawaii.  Breathtaking…

The Pono, by Bodner Chandeliers


Fireclay Tile
Fireclay Tile’s secret to success is taking old things and making them new again.  I am very inspired by the company’s objectives, which are to manufacture their products locally in California and to use recycled materials found within 200 miles of their factory.  *Bonus tip – try pairing Fireclay Tile with reclaimed wood.

Backsplash featuring Fireclay Tile’s hand painted Kasbah Trellis tile


Benjamin Moore Natura Paint: Paint has always gotten a bad rap for being toxic, but the consumer is the first to turn a blind eye since painting is typically the first thing done when moving into a new home or updating an existing one.  Like all of these other companies, Benjamin Moore is committed to offering environmentally safe products.   Its Natura product is a patented manufacturing process that emits no odor, offers zero emissions, and is asthma and allergy friendly.  Notably, Natura Paint won Product of the Year in 2015.

Going green doesn’t mean giving up your options – you can get any Benjamin Moore color in Natura paint


Timberlake Cabinetry
Timberlake Cabinetry prides itself on focusing solely on cabinets, and making theirs the very best.  Over 75% of their hardwood comes from sustainable forests in the US.  Part of their commitment to staying green is manufacturing within the US.  They have plants across the country, so no matter where you live, the majority of the population is less than 500 miles from a plant.  Their plan is to “reduce their carbon footprint, one cabinet at a time”.

Sierra Vista Painted Linen kitchen, by Timberlake Cabinetry

This is just a glimpse of what is available, but by applying these same principles to your design selections you can become a part of the movement.  Year after year the industry will continue to develop, grow, and create; and I can’t wait to see the positive changes that will occur in 2016 and the years to follow!

Angela Harris

About the author: Angela Harris is President and Principal Creative Director of TRIO Environments. A full service interior design and merchandising firm, Trio was founded in 1999 and has offices in Denver and NYC. Offering proven expertise in marketing and interior design, Angela generates TRIO’s signature look for production detached and multi-family home models; for clubhouses and hospitality facilities and for custom residences. With all, her passion lies in finding and forging the fusion of targeted marketing, interior design and sustainability. Angela earned her M.S. in Sustainable Design from Philadelphia University. She is LEED accredited, an Associate in IIDA and a member of ASID. Angela is a Denver native and resident.

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