Designing for Sustainability



Wasting Away
Many people have good intentions of making less of a footprint. However, the choices can seem daunting when deciding how to make better decisions for the environment. But one thing is certain. We need to act now.  A Curbed article reveals an alarming statistic, “According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of furniture and furnishings taken to a landfill rose from 7.6 million tons in 2005 to 9.69 million tons in 2015, and the rate of increase is accelerating.” So, the question arises: How can we design for sustainability and reduce waste in the workplace?

Buy Better to Start
Here’s a good place to begin: When purchasing products, consider the piece’s lifespan, flexibility, and potential for reuse or recycling. The Balance Small Business blog says it well, “Always try to invest in high-quality equipment that is durable and repairable.” It’s tempting to go for the flat-pack quick-fix, but we all know how particle board holds up compared to solid wood.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The Sustainable Design Principles on the Illinois University Library have another useful suggestion: “Design products for reuse and recycling. Make them easy to disassemble so that the parts can be reused to make new products.” Look for companies who use recycled content. This means the materials are being used to their fullest potential.

Materials Made to Last
Here at Ghent, our environmental responsibility is based on industry-standard BIFMA Level principles. BIFMA is the not-for-profit trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers. Any product can label itself “green” or “eco-friendly,” but being BIFMA certified places credibility and accountability on that label. We follow these set percentages to ensure we’re reducing our footprint. A few of these sustainable applications include:

  • •  The wood products that we use are 80% pre-consumer recycled content
  • •  Our aluminum is composed of a minimum of 75% post-industrial scrap
  • •  The steel we use is made of 70% recycled material
  • •  Glass: Already recycled and able to be recycled after use
  • •  Rubber Bulletin Board: Made with 90% recycled materials
  • •  Self-healing cork: Extends the longevity

Go Forth and Conserve
For a thorough list of thoughtful questions to ask when designing for sustainability, take a look at the AIGA site. They also succinctly stated the impact design-minded thinking can impart: “Design is a powerful conduit for change. As the messages, artifacts, and experiences we create pass through the hands, minds, and hearts of people, we have an opportunity to weave sustainability into the broader fabric of culture and to shift consumption and lifestyle aspirations to a more sustainable basis for living.”


Contact our team today