British Institute of Interior Design sustainability panel

As a member of the BIID and working with their sustainability committee to encourage change in our industry, our co-founder Helen was honoured to be asked to chair a BIID panel event on Thursday at Design Festival North in Manchester.
With Fiona Watkins from Fiona Watkins Design and Rose from The Artistry House Interiors, we explored how sustainability is celebrated in projects.

Awards are an important way to raise awareness. We heard from Fiona about how the BIID is championing and celebrating sustainability with the Anna Whitehead prize and Rose talked about her Manchester Museum project which has been shortlisted at the BIID awards with sustainability playing a big factor in the project.

We talked about some of the ways sustainability concerns are affecting the way we work. The Built Environment sector is responsible for almost 40% of global
energy-related carbon emissions and 50% of all extracted materials. From
considering how to reduce the waste on a project, to lowering the carbon footprint, and researching who are the most ethical suppliers to work with there is much we can do as designers to be more sustainable.  For example, re-using or recycling materials and furniture, specifying natural materials, with low VOC’s, working with local suppliers, and tracking the operational and embodied carbon used on a project.

We discussed how sustainability can be seen as a checkbox exercise. However, we see it more as a source of inspiration rather than a hindrance. Using nature as inspiration can bring soul to a space, and proven wellbeing benefits through incorporating such features as biophilic design, natural materials and low toxic materials. Budget was mentioned as very often being a constraint so it is important to educate the client about the long term benefits for both them and the planet at the start of a project.

We talked about what changes we think are coming to the industry and the way we work such as more reporting standards to adhere to, material passports, life cycle analysis for products and the circular economy becoming the normal way to manufacture products.

Our final takeaway was “what was the one change that everyone in the room could make tomorrow to ensure they are working more sustainably”. From making carbon improvements operationally, to challenging all clients to make at least 1 change in their project to sustainability is a step in the right direction.
What is the 1 change you could make tomorrow to ensure you are working more sustainably?

British Institute of Interior Design  #designfestivalnorth  #BIID