The Chairman of Chameleon Business Interiors discusses how the commercial interior design industry needs to take responsibility for sustainability as the climate change crisis worsens.

Climate change has already had serious, observable effects on the environment. More frequent and extreme droughts and storms have been experienced along with wild bush fires, intense heat waves, unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels, warming oceans and more. Just as the scientists predicted, we are now experiencing these effects of climate change which are expected to worsen if change doesn’t happen.

The construction industry is responsible for 23% of air pollution, 40% of drinking water pollution, 50% of landfill waste and 50% of ozone depletion, according to a study conducted by Willmott Dixon, which is disturbingly high. Being part of the construction industry, it is important that we try to influence and lead change towards becoming a more sustainable industry as a whole.  Every single choice we make as commercial interior designers impacts climate change. Whether that be the materials, furniture or construction methods we choose, it all effects the environment.

I have always believed that what we put into our workspaces, influences health and well-being. Finishes, furniture, lighting and spatial arrangements all influence how you feel which carries, through into the work you do. With both sustainability and wellness at the forefront of our minds when designing spaces, it makes for a better quality of life for both humans and nature.

Sustainability in design is no longer an option, it is a necessity. With public engagement in climate change increasing, and the crisis itself worsening, it is becoming ever more important for the industry to take action towards becoming more sustainable; both the world needs it and the public expects it. As an organisation, one of our core values is integrity, meaning all of our decisions are based on strong moral principles which feeds into ensuring sustainability is at the forefront of our work.

Workspaces now need to focus around sustainability as well as employees. They need to have a low carbon impact as well as catering to the human needs of variety, collaboration and comfort. It is inevitable, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, that workspaces will needs to change, accommodating cultural, societal changes and evolving organisational needs which incurs a carbon cost. I recommend that it is carefully considered how you ‘spend’ your carbon and whether it is as sustainable as possible.

Designing with longevity, flexibility and a low carbon impact in mind, will ensure the most ethical and sustainable ways of redesigning your office interior. Additionally, interior designers have power through specification. Checking that suppliers are sustainable, using sustainable materials or making changes towards becoming more sustainable will help to promote change within the industry.

What are you doing to become more sustainable and drive the industry towards change?

Shaun Watts, Chairman of Chameleon Business Interiors