1. Bio-based design materials
Buildings – from the homes we live in to the offices we work in – have the potential to become carbon sinks as opposed to carbon generators.
But to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the built environment industry needs to look beyond operational efficiency and focus on decarbonising the materials used in its build and fit out processes.
One way to reduce embodied carbon is to manufacture using bio-based materials such as wood, straw and bamboo. Bio-based products typically require less energy and have the potential to capture and store carbon through photosynthesis.
A growing number of firms are adopting bio-based building materials, making it one of 2022’s most prominent emerging design trends.
In July 2021, Grosvenor Group, one of the world’s largest privately-owned international property businesses, launched Holbein Gardens, its first net zero carbon office development.
The firm conducted an early whole life carbon assessment to minimise upfront embodied carbon. Grosvenor Group is trialling new low embodied carbon products including cross-laminated timber in the extension, CEMFREE Concrete, Thermalite aircrete blockwork and reclaimed raised access flooring.
Redesigning an existing office building is often more eco-friendly than constructing one from scratch. However, it’s important to consider the environmental credentials of the procurement, installation and use of materials.
For example, using wood in office design isn’t necessarily sustainable if a large amount of carbon dioxide is produced in the logging, transportation and manufacturing processes, and if it ends up in landfill when the occupier moves out instead of being recycled.
Here’s a list of environmentally friendly building material options to explore and use this year, courtesy of the sustainable and biophilic design company, Barbulianno:
- Recycled steel
- Sheep’s wool
- Reclaimed, recycled or sustainable wood
- Recycled plastic
- Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam
- Clay brick
- Recycled Rubber