Since the 1990s, “green,” or sustainable, architecture has gone from design fad to design mandate. To design buildings with minimal environmental impact, architects need to consider a variety of factors—such as the building’s energy efficiency, its harmony with its surroundings and the ecological integrity of the construction materials. The top priority, of course, is maintaining great design aesthetics so that the result is a beautiful, functional space.
This last point—maintaining impeccable design—can often be at odds with the many other considerations architects need to keep in mind. This is especially true when it comes to combining strong design with environmentally friendly products. However, many architects continue to struggle with the idea of designing for sustainability because they feel that by prioritizing environmental needs, they’ll need to sacrifice aesthetics, or even performance.
According to Richard C. (Rik) Master, senior manager of sustainability at USG, material selection is one key way that architects can make a difference in their projects. Studies from the Rocky Mountain Institute featured in Natural Capitalism by Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hopkins show that up to 90 percent of the environmental impact of a building or product is determined by the earliest design decisions, which includes sourcing and using green construction materials.
In the video below, Master explains how architects can advance sustainable design by making critical choices in the selection of materials for every part of their project. This includes specifying materials for parts of the project that may be considered “unexciting” from a design standpoint, like using USG Sheetrock® Brand EcoSmart Panels for wallboard.
To learn more about USG Sheetrock® Brand EcoSmart Panels, visit usg.com/eco.