How to Help Your Clients Choose Sustainable Materials
Want to offer your clients more sustainable options? Take a look at these eco-friendly ideas
When it comes to choosing a plaster finish for internal walls, consider lime rather than cement plaster. It’s carbon-neutral and can be crushed and recycled.
Lime plaster is porous, so it allows walls to breathe and reduces damp. It’s also warm, as it has large, air-filled pores, so it works well as a thermal insulator. On top of this, it has natural antibacterial qualities, and its flexibility makes it extremely durable.
You can also use lime-based paints, as Sam Cooper of E2 Architecture + Interiors did in this bedroom. “They help to regulate the moisture content and also suck up a lot of internal air pollutants,” he says.
See how Sam Cooper designed an eco home for his parents.
Visit the rest of this eco-friendly Victorian house.
The aim for sustainability is driving manufacturers to become more and more innovative. The result is an ever-increasing range of materials that have been constructed from recycled products.
Look out for kitchen worktops made from recycled glass, for instance. They consist of at least 90% glass that’s been crushed and set into resin. The finished product can look a little like concrete and has an attractive translucent appearance. For the walls, tiles made from recycled glass, such as Fireclay’s Crush tiles, are another beautiful and sustainable option.
Rob Cole of Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens also recommends worktops made from recycled paper, like the ones in this space, or a recycled plastic product from Finland called Durat.
Discover more about renovating kitchens sustainably.
Read how a sustainable office can boost staff productivity.
Timber is a good choice if you’re looking for a sustainable material to use internally and externally, but it’s important to source FSC-certified wood.
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an international body that governs the certification and accreditation of the world’s forests, plantations and timbers. It aims to ensure forests are managed in a way that’s environmentally, socially and economically beneficial.
An example is the sweet chestnut used on the panelling of this house. “Sweet chestnut is a British hardwood that’s very durable,” architect Sam Cooper says. He treated it with a breathable stain to give it this dramatic black colour.
A simple, sustainable approach is to use second-hand materials and products. Reclaimed items can be creatively upcycled into something quite beautiful. This house in Auckland, New Zealand, is clad in corrugated iron from a former brewery nearby. Not only is it eco-friendly, its aged appearance adds depth to the look of the building.
Plant-based materials are gaining ground in interiors, with manufacturers using natural products such as pineapple leaves and mushrooms to produce sustainable products.
At Germany’s 2020 Heimtextil fair, Austrian manufacturer Organoid showcased home surfaces made from natural materials including hay, flowers and moss. These are pressed together with an eco-friendly binding agent to form products such as laminate, self-adhesive film and wall coverings. The surfaces are left untreated to allow their natural fragrance to come through.
Find out more about the sustainable materials at Heimtextil.
If cork makes you think of office noticeboards, it’s time to think again. There’s more to this material than you might imagine, including exemplary eco credentials.
Made from the bark of the cork oak tree, it can be harvested every 10 years or so without any harm to the tree. It’s also antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, biodegradable and recyclable, and can be used on internal walls, floors and furniture. Its insulating properties also make it ideal for external walls.
Richard Andrews of Richard John Andrews clad his extension with cork, and highlights that the material is also water-resistant. “Cork repels insects, too,” he adds, “so there’s no need to apply a chemical treatment or use an insect mesh beneath the façade to prevent nests.”
Any home insulation has eco benefits, as it prevents warmth leaving the building and saves on energy consumption. However, some insulation materials are more sustainable than others.
This Portland home designed by Emerald Builders, for instance, is kept warm by recycled cellulose insulation. The flexible material is made from recycled paper and is blown into the building’s cavities. It can easily squeeze into small areas, which makes it highly efficient.
The insulation material isn’t fire-retardant in itself, so it’s treated with non-hazardous chemicals, such as the mineral borate.
Have you used any interesting sustainable materials in your renovation projects? Share your ideas in the Comments section.