Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Architectural design

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Science in Sustainable Development to the Technological University Dublin, November, 2009.


This dissertation looks at the environmental benefits of 3 key areas in relation to interior design: Energy, Water and Air; energy efficient lighting, water efficient plumbing fixtures and the effects of interior materials and finishes on indoor air quality.

Qualitative research methodology: Extensive literature review of texts available on these topics, and also of the relevant building codes and environmental legislation applicable to Irish interior designers and the built environment.

Quantitative research methodology: A comprehensive survey of then currently practicing Irish interior designers, and their use of sustainable design strategies (or lack thereof). The survey was conducted in conjunction with the IDI and the Interiors Association IA. The results and concluding recommendations highlighted a lack of guidance/education as one of the biggest obstacles for designers to practice in a more sustainable way.

Interior design decisions can no longer be made based on aesthetics and functionality. Designers now have a responsibility to create indoor environments that reflect environmental awareness, environmental protection and the sustainability of the building itself.

Very few resources are available that can aid an interior designer to design in an environmentally responsible way. There is a large quantity of information available regarding the specification of environmentally responsible construction materials, in the design and construction of buildings, but very few resources are available that are focused on the interiors of these buildings (Jones, 2008).

In order for commercial interior design to lower the environmental impact of a building, designers must have a broad understanding of sustainable interior design issues, since they are the people who specify the interior components of a building.

The research question to which this dissertation addresses is:

How can commercial interior design lower a building’s environmental impact?


The fire combustibility of products has not been taken into consideration throughout the research. This is a subject worthy of independent research in its own right. Reference has been made to the Class Fire Rating of some products, making use of data extracted from Material Data Sheets. This dissertation also solely investigates the non-structural components of commercial interiors: various furnishings, fixtures and finishes. Therefore, the heating and/or thermal and ventilation components have not been assessed.