Interior Design and Environmental Responsibility

Comments Off on Interior Design and Environmental Responsibility

Interior Design and Environmental Responsibility

Future trends in interior design are being strongly influenced by increased political pressure to utilise sustainable raw materials and processes – Environmental Responsibility. This article will take a look at the international standards that are available to interior design companies and will look more closely at one category of raw material in particular – timber.

Constructive translations has reviewed the different systems of certification available internationally.

Environmental responsibility

Environmental responsibility

Environmental Responsibility: Materials used by interior design companies are sourced worldwide. There is increasing public and political pressure to demonstrate that products and processes are sourced responsibly, in a way that minimises any negative impact upon the environment. But, how can an interior design company be certain that they are sourcing their raw materials from environmentally managed companies? The answer comes from the International Organization for Standardization, called ISO (ISO is not an acronym, it comes from the Greek “isos” meaning equal). ISO develop and publish international standards for commerce and industry. One set of standards in particular relate to environmental management, this is the ISO 14000 – Environmental Management Series of standards. Companies that are certified to ISO 14000 have systems in place that ensure that the processes used have the minimum negative impact upon the environment. In fact, the ISO 14000 standards require companies to have systems for continuously improving their processes. To maintain ISO 14000 certification companies are subject to annual audits that are reviewed by external auditors. When sourcing raw materials it is common practice for a purchaser to ask for proof of conformity to ISO 14000. The supplier, if certified, has an obligation to provide a copy of the certificate which will have a unique code that can be cross referenced with ISO to verify the authenticity of the certificate. The system has been accepted by 165 countries. ISO is based in Geneva. Their standards are published in three official languages: English; French and Russian. Occasionally, they will publish in another language such as Spanish. ISO 14000 certificates are issued by approved auditing companies. The certificate may be issued in the local language, especially if the approved auditing company is based locally.

The Full List of ISO 14000 Standards

ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems – Requirements.

ISO 14004 Environmental Management Systems – General guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques.

ISO 14006 Environmental Management Systems – Guidelines for incorporating ecodesign.

ISO 14015 Environmental Assessment of sites and organizations.

ISO 14020 Series (14020 to 14025) Environmental labels and declarations.

ISO 14030 Post Production Environmental Assessment.

ISO 14031 Environmental Performance Evaluation – Guidelines.

ISO 14040 Series (14040 to 14049) Life Cycle Assessment LCA.

ISO 14050 Terms and Definitions.

ISO 14062 Making Improvements to Environmental Impact Goals.

ISO 14063 Environmental Communication.

ISO 14064 Measuring, Quantifying and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions.


Sustainable Timber Products – PEFC and FSC

Timber is a very important material for interior design. For good reason too, wood comes in an almost infinite range of subtle colours and textures. It can be easy to work, will last many lifetimes, has an ageless property and maintains a link between us busy humans and nature. However, timber is sourced globally with very complex supply chains. Highly sought after exotic timber species, much sought after by interior design companies, may originate in the tropics. Even more common species such as oak or pine, which can be harvested more locally have a complex supply chain. Responsible interior design users of timber want to know that they are using a sustainable product and not depleting a precious natural resource. But how can an interior design company be certain that the timber has been planted and harvested in a sustainable and responsible way, or, that the material was not illegally cut down in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest? There is a way: PEFC and FSC certification. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are internationally recognized forest certification systems. If timber is certified by either, or both, then the interior design company can rest assured that their timber is coming from a sustainable source.

The PEFC set of standards comprises:

PEFC ST 2002:2013: Chain of Custody of Forest Based Products – Requirements.

PEFC ST 2002:2013: Certification Body Requirements – Chain of Custody

PEFC ST 2001:2008 v2: PEFC Logo Usage Rules

PEFC ST 1003:2010: Sustainable Forest Management

PEFC ST 1002:2010: Group Forest Management Certification

PEFC ST 1001:2010: Standard Setting

Annex 1 – Terms and Definitions

Annex 6 – Certification and Accreditation Procedures

The FSC provides three types of certification:

Forest Management Certification

Chain of Custody Certification

Controlled Wood

Both the PEFC and the FSC issue certificates and give permission for the use their logos by certified timber suppliers only. The certificates will have a unique code that can be checked with the governing body to verify the authenticity of their claim to sustainability.

We have found that the various standards discussed above are not generally available officially translated into a wide range of languages. We can assist interior design clients in translating the above standards and in translating certificates of conformance.