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DESIGN TO REDUCE CLIMATE IMPACT

Estimates suggest the built environment and construction industry is responsible for 39% of global emissions. At a time when climate change has become a climate emergency, the industry has a clear responsibility to ensure its impact on the planet is minimised, urgently.

 

Within commercial and amenity projects, the typical lifecycle of a space is 5-7 years, generating huge amounts of waste and a culture of short term, linear design thinking in the process. For me this necessitated a holistic approach to create timeless, meaningful, adaptable, human-driven spaces that challenge the “rip it up and start again” mentality. So the question became,

 

"How can we continue to create uplifting experiences with

a clear conscience?"

Suppliers are offering data on carbon emissions, offsets and lifecycles, which is useful but only part of the problem. We can do more, much more! As we navigate separating the facts from the greenwash, Maven takes a holistic, systems view inspired by Doughnut Economics.

If you've been looking at sustainability or circularity in the built environment as an ambition, you may have come across various systems of accreditations such as BREEAM and WELL which we can work towards, depending on your particular priorities.

With limited current regulation or standard to adhere to from Government in the UK at least, I believe change in the outer world starts with us all individually and the choices we make, although there is often no single 'right answer'.

The complexity and ambiguity of climate terminology on products led me to define an approach based on what I know to be good and true when reviewing the suitability of products and materials to specify for projects

Bar

1. Sense check

Do we need to change anything? What's driving this? Whats the impact short & long term?

2. Recycle, re-use, antiques

The best products are often those that already exist.

3. Long lasting, adaptable

After its intended use here, can it be re-used or adapted for somewhere new, avoiding trend driven selections. Design for disassembly, minimal components and clear labelling of this to assist future custodians.

4. Non- toxic

Chemicals are bad known to permeate skin and affect the air we breathe. Look for the healthiest options in terms of VOC where the information is available, and ask what is used to treat organic products such as leather to stabilise them for longevity, along with the environmental & human impact this has in its full life cycle.

5. Ethical suppliers

Looking throughout the chain of custody for evidence of responsible employers and environmental treatment, such as B-Corp or Cradle2Cradle certified products or businesses.

6. Environmentally responsive

Making choices that respond to the existing building environment and adapt the form, shape, colour, or character in an appropriate way.

7. Energy efficient

Looking at embodied carbon in extraction, manufacture and transportation. And considering if the product will lower energy consumption.

8. Focus on scale

Target the high volume, high impact items such as flooring first.

 


Of course specifications need to be simultaneously Affordable, Attractive and Available to balance holistic value. Collectively designers with clients and suppliers are pushing circularity forward to encourage industry evolution. 

Maven Design Studio is proudly a signatory of Interior Design Declares, part of Construction Declares, a global petition movement uniting all strands of construction and the built environment to take action on the climate crisis.

WRITTEN BY CHLOE

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