Wish List: What We Need to Decarbonize Interiors
Interior designers must encourage and support the development of new industry practices, tools, and platforms to fight climate change.
To Improve Specification Practices
Easily Accessible Information About All Product Categories
At present, some product categories are easier to analyze for carbon footprint than others—in some cases the transparency documentation doesn’t exist, and in others the products are complex assemblies. More uniform information is needed, as well as GWP baselines for major interiors products such as furniture and lighting.
Analyze Take Back and Recycling Programs
Designers and clients need to be educated about the costs, logistics, and carbon footprint of take back and recycling programs, so that they can take informed decisions about the trade-offs with high recycled content.
Develop Tools with Multivariate Analysis
Eventually, designers need tools that can compare products based on multiple variables that contribute to carbon footprints, wellness, and other factors. Example: Global Warming Potential, Red List Chemicals, current costs or barriers to recycling all need to be factored into product selections.
To Increase and Improve Reuse
Materials Transparency and Chain of Custody
Encourage vendors to be transparent about their supply chains through regular declarations, making them available through all popular databases. Develop tools like tags, labels, or QR codes that can be attached to products and carry materials transparency information that is vital for deconstruction, recycling, or reuse.
Mandate Product Labelling by Manufacturers
Require or encourage manufacturers to tag all products with a durable label (could be digitally enabled, like a QR code). The label should contain all relevant environmental information including Basic Contents, Embodied Carbon (GWP), End-of-Life handling guidelines.
Incentives for Responsible End-of-Life
Take-Back and Recycling programs could be powered with a deposit at the time of purchase that is refunded upon the return of the product. To encourage other forms of recycling, vendors can offer a promo code or discount when customers show that their existing comparable assets have been responsibly handled for reuse or recycling.
Leasing and Alternative Ownership Models
Promote product leases for durable items, especially ones with warranty periods longer than current renovation cycles. Other alternative ownership models, including lifetime replacement guarantees and subscriptions might be appropriate for certain product types.
Support local policies that incentivize recycling and reuse. Examples: Designate recycling days and develop recycling centers or local material hubs. Remove regulations that mandate hardwiring of furniture because this is a barrier to design for disassembly.
To Assess the Carbon Footprint of Projects:
- Start by collecting EPDs from mindful Materials or the Sustainable Minds Transparency Catalog.
- EPDs are complex documents, use Architecture 2030’s EPD Quicksheet to identify the most relevant data from every EPD.
- For tenant improvement projects, you can then use the CLF TI LCA Calculator. For whole building assessment, your best bet is Tally.
To find Community
and share information with other designers, join a CLF Regional Hub.
Keep an Eye Out
for expansions and developments in these tools, as well as the upcoming Tally Climate Action Tool.
If you have feedback on the Climate Toolkit for Interior Design, write to: [email protected]