Interior Design: A Client’s Guide to Material Sustainability

The mission of Amenta Emma Architects is to make positive impacts through inspired design with exceptional people. Central to this mission is our commitment to sustainability. We believe sustainability is a fundamental value driving our design decisions and shaping our interactions with clients and stakeholders. As part of Sustainable Architecture Week 2024, we explore the importance of material sustainability in interior design projects and provide clients with a roadmap for integrating sustainable materials into their projects.

What is material sustainability?

Sustainable materials are those that can be replenished or replaced naturally at a rate that does not exceed the rate of use, for example,  bamboo, wool, and recycled materials. Material sustainability is a strategic approach to working with sustainable materials on a project. It’s a practice that involves selecting materials that minimize environmental impact, promote occupant health and wellness, and contribute to the project’s holistic sustainability goals. Defining and prioritizing material sustainability offers numerous benefits, including reduced environmental footprint, improved indoor air quality, and long-term cost savings.

Set material sustainability goals.

Material sustainability is not a “one size fits all” prescriptive approach. Each client needs to find a balance that works for them, by considering the health and well-being of their occupants, what they can afford, and the level of environmental stewardship that makes sense for them. Our team works closely with stakeholders to set clear expectations and goals for material sustainability, ensuring alignment with project objectives. Amenta Emma recommends the best “buckets,” or categories, to align with interior material selection, guiding clients towards sustainable choices that meet project needs.

Select the right materials.

Selecting appropriate interior materials can seem overwhelming. It is especially confusing when some products claim benefits they don’t deliver (greenwashing). Amenta Emma’s strategy is two-fold. First, we select from material options that we know meet various sustainable credentials or certifications. Internally, we organize these credentials into “buckets:” environmental impact, occupant health and wellness, and a holistic blend of the two. These “buckets” help clients understand how the materials will be used in relation to their goals. Second, we utilize the “Mindful Materials” online platform for additional material research, as well as the MM’s Common Framework to help guide the material selection process. This strategy ensures that every material we choose aligns with our client’s sustainability goals.

People, Profit, Planet.

By prioritizing material sustainability in interior design projects, clients can create spaces that not only look beautiful but also promote environmental stewardship and occupant well-being. Amenta Emma is committed to helping clients navigate the complexities of material sustainability, guiding them towards sustainable choices that make a positive impact on the environment,  the people who inhabit the spaces, and their bottom line.

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