Sustainability is not just about reducing environmental impact. Instead, it means looking holistically at the natural and economic systems of building and finding solutions that support the quality of life for humans.
With the growing interest from the community in designing responsibly, material selection has become among one of the main ways we, at coDesign, address sustainability concerns on upcoming projects.
What are the main characteristics of a sustainable material?
There's multiple metrics to evaluate how sustainable a material really is. Here are some of the questions we like to ask ourselves when selecting a material:
Where does the material come from?
We always want to prioritize materials that come from a responsible source where people are treated with dignity.
What is the material's lifecycle?
Ideally, we want materials that have long lives and can be reused multiple times before they go to waste (or even better, materials that never have to go to waste).
Will it cause any health issues to a human in the long term?
This might be obvious but it's incredibly important as there's some materials that contain harmful ingredients that could slowly harm your health. Thorough understanding of those ingredients and their consequences is crucial to avoid specifying them.
Is there any documentation to support the product's claim on sustainability?
Manufacturers that have joined the sustainability movement usually include documentation that helps us determine whether the material is appropriate and has met "green" requirements. An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and a Health Product Declaration (HPD) are typical documents where you can quickly learn the characteristics of your material.
Is it cost-effective to select sustainable materials?
Absolutely. After all, sustainable, resilient projects last longer, can save money in the long term and can actually be built to withstand natural disasters and other destructive events using materials and techniques that preventative technology has granted us.
Here's some interesting facts about the topic:
According to World Green Building Trends, the highest driving factor to green building is client demand at a staggering 34%.
In the same study, the number of respondents citing higher first costs of green building as its top obstacle dropped from 76% in 2012 to 49% 2018.
Can you show me some examples of beautiful, sustainable materials?
We thought you'd never ask, scroll down to see some of our favorite applications in different workplaces.
From carbon-neutral carpet tile, to 100% recycled content tile, there's plenty of options to choose from and create the perfect space.
How can codesign help with my sustainability efforts?
Talk to us! We have different approaches to hit sustainable goals that range from a basic green design strategy to achieving LEED Certification.
If you'd like to learn more about sustainability and the direct benefits of designing with nature in mind, make sure to read The benefits of biophilic design in the workplace.