What does green design entail? And how does an architect actually work with it? We had a chat with Negar Daneshpour, Lead Architect at Tyréns, to get her perspective on sustainable architecture, climate data, and BIM.
How to make your products fit for green building projects
Sustainable construction is a trend that's unlikely to cool down any time soon. So, what can you do to prep your products and make them the hot choice for green specifiers? Let's tap into some of the tactics!
Keep up with green trends & regulations
There's no doubt that sustainable construction is trending, but it's not a fad that'll cool down any time soon. See, national, regional, and global policymakers are putting pressure on the building industry to clean up its act. Pair that with the recent rise in ESG investments and a market pushing for green-rated buildings and we have ourselves a potential hotbed for green buildings becoming the norm.
But what about the people specifying your products? How well are they aligning with the green shift in construction? Well, the aspirations are mirrored.
In 2020, 75% of BIMobject’s users within architecture, engineering, and construction place sustainability high up on their list of goals. To top it off, they rate sustainable design a 7,6/10 on the importance scale. Let that sink in for a moment. Or two.
Understand how green designers work
The requirements for sustainable buildings mean that architects, engineers, and interior designers can't get away with adding shrubbery for a “green look and feel”. They need to dig deeper into the details. Collaborate more. And extend their involvement beyond the first phases of a building project.
Creating sustainable buildings and green designs doesn’t involve dumb luck. It requires data. A lot of it. Architects and engineers need to design with performance in mind, consider the conditions of the surrounding environment and carefully consider how building products impact the aggregated whole. This is particularly pertinent if the project aims to achieve a certain rating in LCB, BREEAM, or LEED.
BIMobject's HQ, Malmö, Sweden. LEED Platinum certified – not a single shrubbery.
Think beyond eco-friendly raw materials
Selecting the right (or wrong) products can alter a building’s climate impact. Negar Daneshpour, the Lead Architect at Tyréns, recently stated in this interview that their process involves conscious considerations of environmental factors such as the climate impact, structure, materials, energy efficiency, recyclability, circularity, and so on. She adds:
“In our projects, we premiere building materials with long lifespans that are more resistant to wear and age beautifully. I always aim to collaborate with suppliers and manufacturers with green company profiles. It’s important to use sustainable products and materials produced through eco-friendly processes.”
So… As designers look deeper into the green, it might be (read: is) worth the while taking measures to improve your numbers.
Think beyond eco-friendly raw materials
Renewable and plant-based raw materials automatically make products and buildings sustainable. Or? The reality is way more complicated than that – especially when there are climate declarations to compile and green building certifications to aspiring to. Don’t get it twisted: reusable, eco-friendly raw materials matter. But climate calculations factor in other variables, too:
- transportation of raw materials;
- transportation of final product to the construction site;
- carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) in the manufacturing process – from extraction to final product;
- life expectancy;
- recyclability and reusability.
How can you make your products more appealing to sustainable specifiers? Well, you could…
Optimize your products, suppliers, and manufacturing methods.
1. Resource-efficient product design and packaging
Innovate and reengineer your products to reduce material utilization. Designing with circularity in mind, looking for opportunities to improve raw material utilization, and extending product lifecycles all play a part in reducing your product’s climate impact – and manufacturing costs.
2. Source sustainable materials
One of the most evident steps is to set up a plan to phase out harmful materials and switch them out for ethically coursed, eco-friendly, and/or recycled equivalents.
3. Invest in production
Sustainability efforts can also take place on the factory floor. Reducing waste and water usage, adjusting energy loads, and investing in technology and renewable energy sources drive serious sustainability scores and savings, as well as avoid future friction with authorities.
4. Reroute shipping and transportation
Distribution practices play a part in a building project’s climate impact, so you might want to look into reconfiguring your distribution routes, rethinking your transportation means, and putting in load optimization measures.
Invest in Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
Ok. So. Environmental product declarations (EPDs) won’t improve your products’ climate data. What they will do, however, is to generate extra trust, remove the information hurdles and make it easier for sustainable specifiers to select your products.
What is an EPD? Environmental Product Declarations are standardized documents that showcase and communicate your products’ environmental data. EPDs follow Product Category Rules (PCR) according to EN 15804 and consist of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) according to ISO 14044. Tech aside…
The commercial power of EPDs is ignited by the trust. An EPD is always verified by a third party and published by an approved EPD system – leaving no room for promotional foul play. So, for instance: When a team sets out to design a LEED- or BREEAM compliant hospital, bridge, or office complex – they’ll gravitate towards manufacturers who offer EPDs.
Want to invest in EPDs but not sure how? Start to build your EPD portfolio with Eando today >
Facilitate digital design to get closer to green specifiers
Building projects generate tonnes of data, particularly within the fields of sustainable design. But here’s the clincher: no human can manually analyze the variables and crunch the amount of data that goes into a building project (unless you’re some kind of superhuman Einstein, that is).
That’s (partly) why an increasing amount of clients, contractors, and designers are turning to BIM: a 3D digital building process that improves stakeholder collaboration and helps to analyze a building’s (environmental) performance – before it’s built.
By now, you might be wondering why we’re blabbering about a digital building process in the middle of a blog post about prepping your products for the green future – BUT! Manufacturers such as yourself can play a vital role in BIM. By developing manufacturer-specific BIM objects. information-rich digital replicas of your physical products) you can:
- get your sheets together and designers jump through hoops to access product data;
- win projects where BIM is a requirement (voluntary or mandated);
- help designers through the product selection process;
- create a smoother collaboration between yourself and green project teams;
- provide stellar data for climate calculations and climate declarations.
Market your products to green specifiers
Here’s the thing: you could create products that ace all sustainability parameters. Products that would make those who verify EPDs burst out in song. Products that could contribute to earning those extra points in LEED or BREEAM. But it's all in vain unless your commercial team gets your products and message out on the market.
Social media, trade shows, industry magazines, your website, PR, email outreach... The ways to influence purchasing decisions are almost endless. But you might be overlooking a big window of opportunity: making BIM a part of the marketing mix and product launches.
We know that sustainability is gaining ground. We know that data is important. And we know that professionals and decision-makers are turning BIM into a hygiene factor. So, you might want to hop on that bandwagon ASAP. But how can you make it happen? By publishing and promoting your products on marketplaces for BIM content – such as bimobject.com.
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