These days, sustainable joinery design means big business thanks to government specifications and the rising demand for ‘green’ homes and offices. Australia, as a whole, seems to be lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to sustainability, especially when compared to the European Union (which has strict regulations regarding joinery). The good news is that, today, materials are increasingly available that do not pollute the internal air of buildings.
Consider Low- or No-Emissions
For sustainable joinery design, you should opt for materials that are EO rated, that don’t produce formaldehyde out-gas, that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, that have water-based finishes, and that feature sealants that have zero- or low-volatile organic compounds (VOCs). One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to opt for natural materials wherever possible, as many manmade materials (such as glue and dye) are known to release emissions.
Increased Availability = More Affordability
The cost difference between sustainable and non-sustainable designs today is actually not all that much. A sustainable kitchen (appliances aside), for example, could set you back around $23,000. Whilst a flat-packed kitchen costs half that, the labour and installation will often bring the cost to around $20,000. Many of the major brands are also doing their best to incorporate environmental friendliness into their products, which has made it a ‘fashionable’ thing to do.
Tell ‘Good’ Wood from ‘Bad’
There are plenty of joinery companies around that focus on minimising waste as much as possible in their practices. One such way of achieving this is to reconstruct veneers that have been peeled, chopped and re-sliced into blocks – this also leads them to be more even in colour! Another way is to source wood from forests with complete traceability from forest to sale. You should always make sure that wood has been sourced locally, not from plantations.
Re-Usable or Recyclable Products
Something that you should consider when purchasing materials for your home or business is whether it is recyclable (such as solid timber, plywood and bamboo) or whether it will have to be thrown out (such as melamine). Some joinery design companies are also known for removing recyclable or re-usable materials from the location during a fitout and disposing of it correctly. If you are opting to re-use materials and items, make sure that they are in good condition.
Alternatives to Wood
Finally, you should look into using alternatives for wood wherever possible. One such product is EcoTop, which looks like Corian but is comprised of bamboo fibre and post-consumer recycled paper that has been bound together using a water-based resin. This product is petroleum- and VOC-free, as well as being very easy to maintain (the surface can be sanded to remove scratches and you can re-apply your chosen finish to the area with ease!).
If you are interested in sustainable joinery design for your home or business, we recommend that you take the above information on board and conduct some of your own research. You may need to search for a joinery company in your local area that is able to provide you with a sustainable design, but we assure you that these people are out there! Even if you are interested in trying it out on a single room or project, there is sure to be a company to help.