Dayle Laing

The ‘coolest shade of green’ is the sustainable choice. Dayle Laing is a Professional Speaker and Author who uses her experience and training as an educator, a designer and a LEED Accredited Professional to empower Conscious Consumers to make practical yet beautiful choices for sustainable living, reducing their carbon footprint while enhancing their body, mind & spirit.

cagbc_christine_heyman_dayle_laing_300Christine Heyman & Dayle Laing at CaGBC SymposiumAs a LEED Accredited Professional, I am often asked the trends in beautiful sustainable interior design. I recently attended the Canada Green Building Council Symposium in Toronto to find out the latest, and discovered that old is new!

At the CaGBC conference last year in Vancouver (see links at bottom of this article to previous posts), I was once again struck by the genuine positive “can do” attitude that prevailed at this symposium. The professionals attending were all helpful, cooperative and the mood was uplifting.

The trend for reusing existing materials is one that would have gladdened the hearts of people like my father, who lived through the great depression of the early 20th century. He believed “you never know when you might need something”. We have attained a level of sophistication where valuable resources are preserved, bought, and sold, or donated. They are not stored to gather dust in the basement.

Mark Gorgolowski, Ryerson University professor presented some inspiring examples of “resource salvation”. For example, Mountain Equipment Coop tore down an old building in Ottawa, catalogued the materials, and then incorporated the components into the new design. He noted that the “Building reuse” credit is one that has not been well used in LEED certification, and added we need to overcome the perceived risk that “used is 2nd best”. Older components may be in fact of superior quality! Design fees may be higher and contractors may take extra time to become familiar with the materials, but materials are typically less expensive or may be free if already on site.

Congratulations, you’ve just purchased a new phone, flat screen TV or computer that replaces one that is ailing, slow or lacks the latest features. What happens now with the old equipment? Unfortunately, all too often it ends up in the local landfill instead of contributing to sustainable design.

david_laing_sims_250I’m David Laing, LEED AP, the Environmental Consultant partner of Dayle Laing. Each year an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste (computers, TVs, cell phones and other discarded electronic items) are produced. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, over 80% of that material ends up in municipal garbage dumps. It is a huge problem because computers and monitors contain some very nasty substances including: lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, and brominated flame retardants. Up to 60 elements can be found in complex electronics, and it has been estimated that 70% of the heavy metals in US landfills comes from discarded electronics. Surely there must be a more economically and environmentally friendly solution for disposing of e-waste; and there is. All we need do is take advantage of it.

dayle_laing_sims_200Recently, Dayle and I had the privilege of participating in a tour of 2 electronic recycling plants in Brampton & Mississauga, Ontario organized by Brad Zarnett of the Toronto Sustainability Speakers Series. The plants, operated by SIMS Recycling Solutions cover 85,000 and 290,000 square feet respectively and currently process 30 million pounds of electronic waste annually. SIMS Metal Management, the parent company is the largest electronics recycler in the world and these two local facilities handle recycling from Canada and the Northeast US. Half the recycled material comes from commercial equipment while the other half comes from consumer products.

I worked in the computer industry for many years and have had the opportunity to tour computer manufacturing plants. I have been impressed by the high technology automation, ingenuity and complexity that is employed to manufacture computer components. I can tell you from visiting the SIMS plant that it also takes a lot of high technology to pull those components apart; along with a bit of finesse and a fair amount of brute force.


The SIMS plants use a combination of

dayle_laing_canadian_living_300Canadian Living online article by author Kristy Wright featured an interview with Dayle Laing for her eco-chic tips on sustainable interior design.

Dayle Laing, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional and Principal Designer of Dayle Laing Interior Designs in Brampton, Ont.

"Choose simple, local and high-quality products that bring you joy and make you smile every time you see and use them. Cherish your family heirlooms. Avoid any products that have odours and lists of ingredients difficult to pronounce. Finally, select products that draw the least amount of power and have logos such as Energy Star, EnerGuide, Green Seal, Greenguard, Green Label, EcoLogo, Cradle to Cradle and Forest Stewardship Council – these show they've been independently tested and certified."

Dayle's eco-tips

"When planning a kitchen don't forget about kitchen waste. Use containers that make it simple and convenient to sort recycling and compostable items, such as this kitchen's stainless-steel compost pail that was built into the counter. Select high-quality LED systems for kitchen lighting (the under-cabinet lighting in this kitchen is LED) and use dimmer controls for task and mood lighting. When I began this kitchen, LED pendant lights weren't available so I used dimmable halogens that have an infrared coating – this provides the same light at 35 watts as a regular bulb of 50 watts. The good news is that now LED pendant lights are available."


Crown Wallpaper + Fabrics Sales Meeting - Toronto, Jan 29, 2011

Crown-logo_200“What’s Fabric got to do with it? -- Much more than a second hand emotion, fabric is the dynamite that sparks sales calls!”


Inspiration from the Tina Turner classic was in keeping with the Rock and Roll theme of the meeting. Dayle spoke about 5 keys areas that could enhance a customer’s buying experience, ensure repeat business, reduce purchase errors, and differentiate sales representatives from their competition.


Sales representatives commented:

great_refrigerator_roundup_pickup_350How would you feel if ¼ of your household electricity consumption walked out the door in the form of one appliance?

Hooray! That’s what I felt. Men from the “Great Refrigerator Roundup” program in my municipality picked up my old still-operating chest freezer and took it away for recycling.

great_refrig_roundup_logo_100It is time for us to identify the major energy culprits. A colleague of mine takes issue with our focus on tiny culprits like cell phone charger phantom loads, while we ignore the big energy-draw items!

I bake my own bread and purchase organic flour in bulk, which I stored in this 30 year old freezer. Lately, I noticed that the freezer compressor was running all the time!

vivian_kanargelidis_dayle_laing_350Dayle Laing, LEED AP, provided practical advice for selecting sustainable residential and commercial interior fabrics that will meet clients’ needs for health and the environment.

Fabrics 101, an IDCEC accredited seminar, encompassed the most current research on textile certification and scientific research on toxicity.

Interior Designers and Interior Decorators were hosted in the showroom of Sun Glow Window Covering Products of Canada Ltd. in Toronto on February 17, 2011. Vivian Kanargelidis, owner of Sun Glow, showed the designers who stayed on for lunch, the Trevira CS fabric she recently sourced in Germany at Heimtextil, the international textile trade show. Vivian remarked that commercial architects and interior designers are demanding a flame retardant fabric without PVC vinyl for their sun screen window shade requirements.

Sun screens are used extensively in projects with large windows requiring the comfort of light control and preventing solar heat gain.

Attendees made the following comments:

Dayle, I gained an immense amount of knowledge during your presentation Fabrics 101. Thank you for the references to so many worthwhile websites to assist us as designers / decorators. I feel I can offer my clients & family better information going forward.”

Jane Campbell, Woodbridge, ON

Excellent! I learned a great deal.”

Helen Moffett, Toronto, ON

giovanni_dayle_proficiency_watermatrix_300One flush - 3 litres - waste gone! There is scepticism about how such a low volume toilet can possibly work with one flush. Personal experience shows it does indeed work!

When I realized that the flapper in my 5 year old constantly-leaking toilet was disintegrating at the edges, very likely from chlorinated water, I knew I needed to make a change. I needed a toilet without a flapper and I recalled that I had written an article mentioning the Proficiency toilet last year.

Proficiency toilets were installed in the Chapelview LEED Platinum affordable housing project in Brampton, Canada. While visiting the Construct Canada trade show, I checked out Water_Matrix the distributor for Canadian designed Hennessy & Hinchcliffe’s Proficiency toilet.

dayle_laing_kitchen_350Handling kitchen waste is easy when it is set up right to achieve sustainable interior design.

Making it work and making it into a habit is all about having a convenient efficient system.

pottery_compost_jar_150For many years, I deposited vegetable peelings into a hand-thrown pottery jar obtained on a trip to Crathes Castle in Scotland.  That worked until one winter day when I slipped on ice on the way to the backyard composter, and down crashed the jar. The glue gun repaired it somewhat.

plastic_compost_bin_150Shortly after, the city created a municipal composting program and supplied a plastic lidded pail for use on the counter or stowed under the sink.  Under the sink was inconveniently low and on the counter was not particularly elegant. One of my clients keeps their plastic pail in a drawer beside the sink.

The renovation of my kitchen last year was the chance to make a truly wonderful waste system that is one of my favourite features in the kitchen!

ecocare_2010_logoDayle Laing presented “Greening Healthcare Fabrics” to an enthusiastic group of green team members and physicians at the EcoCare 2010 conference on October 19, 2010 in London, Ontario.

ecocare_taglineEcoCare 2010 - Understanding Our Impact...Creating Positive Change, is “the only conference in Canada to speak directly to the link between healthcare and the environment, and presents both practical and innovative ways to encourage and inspire ecological stewardship within the Canadian healthcare sector”.



Her main point was avoid chemical finishes where possible, to minimize toxic exposure to chemicals for immunocompromised patients and staff. She described her selection criteria based on the principles of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and explained the relevant third party certifications for textiles. Fabrics to avoid and more importantly, suggestions for what fabrics to use instead were made.

Dayle had the opportunity to travel to London the prior evening to join the conference and hear the keynote speech from the leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, who affirmed the importance of this conference and this direction for healthcare professionals.

Toxicity of Fabric SoftenerDo you use fabric softener or dryer sheets and want to avoid 'greenwashing'?

If so, have you considered what value they are providing to the textiles or to you? Laundering our personal and interior fabrics is a repetitive task that most of us perform without thinking what products we are using and why we are using them.

ecocare_2010_logoI recently presented a seminar at a healthcare medical conference, EcoCare 2010 in London, Ontario. In my topic “Greening of Healthcare Fabrics”, we discussed the toxicity of fabric softener use for hospital fabrics for patients, staff and hospital visitors, and what alternatives to consider instead.

Fabrics should not always require fabric softeners, and should be especially avoided for polyester or ‘microfibre’ fabrics because they interfere with the natural wicking abilities of the fibre which draws moisture away from the body and makes us comfortable.[1] Fabric softeners work as surfactants by reducing the surface tension and allow the spreading of their antibacterial and antifungal properties by leaving a residue on fabrics that does not easily wash off. [2] Fabric softeners are added either to the final rinse cycle of machine washing or in the form of softener-impregnated dryer sheets.

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