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Choosing Sustainable Materials for Design

09 Jan 2024

A Guide to Choosing Sustainable Materials for Commercial Interior Design in Australia

In Australia, where environmental consciousness is on the rise, the demand for sustainable interior materials is particularly pronounced. In the ever-evolving world of commercial interior design, the focus on sustainability has become a key consideration for architects, designers, and businesses alike. The choice of materials plays a pivotal role in creating environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing interiors. In this guide, we’ll explore what makes a material sustainable and delve into some popular sustainable choices for commercial interiors in Australia.

What makes a material sustainable?

When evaluating sustainable interior materials for design, it’s essential to consider the following factors:

  • Energy consumption – how much energy is required to produce the material?
  • Reusability and repurposing – can the material be reused or repurposed?
  • Recyclability – is the material recyclable at the end of its life?
  • Renewability – is the material naturally sourced and is the source replenishable?
  • Chemical usage – were harsh chemicals used in the production of the material?
  • Water consumption – how much water is required to manufacture the material?
  • Transportation impact – how far must the material travel after manufacturing?

A common way to use sustainable interior materials in Australia is to use recycled materials as opposed to virgin materials. This means that the energy, chemicals and water that would have been used to make the new material, have been saved by using a recycled material. Here’s a look at common sustainable materials that can be used in interior design.

Common sustainable interior materials in Australia

Bamboo

Bamboo is renowned for its sustainability as it’s fast-growing and self-regenerating. Its structural advantages, including elasticity and tensile strength, make it an excellent choice. However, it should be sourced from sustainably managed forests and ideally locally to reduce transportation emissions.

Cork

Harvested from trees that regenerate their bark, cork is renewable and versatile. Its hydrophobic, fire-retardant, and insulating properties make it suitable for various applications on walls, ceilings, and floors.

Sustainable Wood

Wood, with its ability to absorb CO2 and provide a natural ambience, is a classic choice. Sourcing from sustainably managed forests and using reclaimed wood helps minimise its environmental impact.

Sustainable Concrete

Concrete, with its high thermal mass, can enhance energy efficiency, but its production has a significant carbon footprint. There are a few ways to make concrete more sustainable. One is to use fly ash, which is a by-product of a coal-fired power plant, or to use recycled materials instead of virgin materials.

Sustainable Brick

The process of making clay bricks involves mining the clay from the ground, shaping it into bricks, and then firing it in a kiln. This process uses a lot of energy as well as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. However, brick’s durability, reuse potential, and energy-efficient properties make it a sustainable option, especially if you’re using recycled bricks as opposed to making new bricks with virgin materials.

Sustainable Glass

Glass offers daylighting benefits but requires careful consideration of factors like U-value and solar heat gain coefficients to maximise energy efficiency and thermal comfort. The production of glass emits greenhouse gases and uses a lot of energy and water. To make glass more sustainable, it’s useful to use recycled glass as opposed to virgin materials. Another option is to utilise non-energy-intensive manufacturing processes, such as solar power.

By understanding the environmental impact of materials, businesses and designers can make informed decisions, contributing to a more sustainable future for commercial interior design in Australia. To ensure we deliver on our promises and fulfil our shared vision for your interior design in Perth, our team at BHO Interiors likes to be involved from the initial consultation through to the post-construction quality control and handover. This way your dream becomes a reality. We’d love to hear about your interior design dreams, contact our team today to begin the process.

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