For some time now ‘sustainability’ and ‘green design’ have been buzzwords for architects and designers, but so far, things haven’t really been moving very quickly to embrace these concepts as fully as they might.
Whether delayed by the global economic slump or simply due to a lack of pressure from consumers, few architects and designers were consistently opting for the more sustainable choice. However, the feeling now is that in the next five years or so, a more holistic approach to production technology, practice and the final product is expected to take hold, as more and more people are beginning to wake up to the fact that time to make positive changes really is running out.
Clients are becoming more confident in recognising their responsibility towards improving their local and global communities, and in articulating their demands for products that push the frontiersof what green design is and could be.
A company’s identity and brand value is now considered to be greatly enhanced if it can boast solid green credentials.
For manufacturers, establishing themselves as an environmentally-conscious operation usually revolves around three aspects of the manufacturing process: eliminating the need for replacement parts, waste reduction and awareness of source material. Designers and clients should be encouraged to seek high-performance, long-lasting products that need little maintenance and will offer far higher long-term savings with a greatly reduced impact on the environment, especially when materials are carefully sourced and certified ‘green’ by respected organisations.
In order to meet the challenges that working sustainably presents, it is important that architects and designers not only read society’s mood and can thus respond to present demands, but they must be able to identify where current trends are leading in order to anticipate the future and make it green. For example, the present backlash against plastic and throwaway items must lead to practical, affordable solutions that substantially reduce human impact on the environment. Wider issues, such as ageing populations or migration, cannot be considered separately but must be part of a joined-up strategy that has climate change as its backdrop.
Obviously, the companies that manage to communicate their genuine environmentally-friendly behaviour while meeting or exceeding their clients’ demands for quality will be the ones in the driving seat in the coming decades.