As the A&D community prepares to make the annual pilgrimage to Chicago for the NeoCon® World's Trade Fair, the question on most people's minds is: Where will I find the latest and greatest new products? The more important question, however, is not where to find new products, as they are on virtually every floor—it should be: How do I find and recognize the products that will contribute to the design of a healthy and functional project? In other words, where will the "green" products be? The problem for designers interested in sustainable design is recognizing which materials are truly "green" in nature/ character. Understanding the "degree" of a material's sustainability is often difficult to discern and not always straightforward. For example:
- Is the material recycled or recyclable? w Is it manufactured locally/ regionally?
- Is the product low emitting?
- Does one single sustainable attribute outweigh another— what if you had to choose between these attributes?
- Are there other factors we should consider such as cost?
- What about manufacturer claims and "greenwashing"?
Thus, this year's theme and inspiration behind the annual GREENLife exhibit, designed by a team of designers at TVS Interiors and sponsored by Interiors & Sources, is entitled "Shades of Green" to demonstrate the complexity of materials and their attributes in the realm of sustainable design. "Though this year's exhibit color scheme is literally variations or different values of green, we don't mean to literally imply that a product has to been green in color to be sustainable," says Carlie Bullock-Jones, senior associate for TVS Interiors. "Rather, we wanted to demonstrate that there are many variables and layers to sustainable products—their processes/manufacturing, use and ultimate disposal." Fortunately, designers as well as product manufacturers have the tools necessary to help guide and access the overall environmental implications of their choices. For example:
- life-cycle assessment (lca): A systematic set of procedures for compiling and examining the inputs and outputs of materials and energy and the associated environmental impacts directly attributable to the functioning of a product or service system throughout its life-cycle. (Note: The LCA process is governed under ISO 14000, the series of international standards addressing environmental management.)
- life-cycle: Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product or service system—from the extraction of natural resources to the final disposal.
Every year designers gather at NeoCon® to see the latest and greatest in new and innovative products the industry has to offer. The process is an enormous undertaking—material transportation, set-up, showroom renovations, etc. "This year we hope to challenge and inform both designers and manufacturers to collaboratively work together to create products that are truly green. We must begin to access not only a single attribute of a product but rather think holistically about the entire life-cycle impact of the materials and products we choose," says Bullock-Jones. "It appears that the most important time for LCA to be considered and implemented is during the actual design phase of new products," she adds. "As such, designers are the 'link' between the manufacturer and final product selection/final design. We have the power to impact these changes and demand better products, for a better natural built environment." The GREENLife™ exhibit space will aim to inspire and educate through a more holistic awareness in understanding product life-cycle design and assessment. Each decision we make regarding product selection has an impact (whether positive or negative) and thus we all have the opportunity and responsibility to be stewards of the environment through our choices everyday.Products in the Exhibit
In the design of this year's GREENLife exhibit, the design team at TVS Interiors used a number of sustainable products to demonstrate their many variables and layers, their processes/manufacturing, use and ultimate disposal. Products that were used to construct the GREENLife booth will be on display, including:Flooring Carpet with recycled content from C&A, Bentley Prince Street and Interface.
- A Seton Exhibitor display stand.
- Various patterns including Innvironments from Innovations in Wallcoverings.
- A variety of fabrics from Design Tex.
Interiors & Sources would also like to thank all of the manufacturers taking part in the annual Green Walk, including Armstrong World Industries, Beaulieu Commercial, Designweave, Forbo Linoleum, International Design Center for the Environment, Johnsonite, Lees Carpets, Mannington Commercial, MDC Wallcoverings, Mohawk Commercial Carpet, National Partitions, nora rubber flooring, Oceanside Glasstile, PacifiCrest, Steelcase, Toli and Universal Textile Technologies.