Sustainable Design Collective: Standards & Certification

Design Insider is thrilled to support the Sustainable Design Collective as a media partner.

Sustainable Design Collective is a ‘think tank’ group committed to acting as a collective within the workplace design community to identify developments and ‘best practice’ relating to sustainability. The purpose of the Group is to promote and applaud achievements and, more importantly, to create a forum for knowledge sharing and exchange.

The group represents the full scope of the office design sector – architects, designers, manufacturers, suppliers and sustainability experts. Working towards the greater good – ultimately to reduce our climate impact.

The Sustainable Design Collective July event focused on the evolution of Standards and Certification. ‘Discussions commenced with an overview of the new UKGBC (UK Green Building Council) certification scheme: Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard. A cross-industry initiative to develop the UK’s first Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard. Leading industry organisations BBP, BRE, The Carbon Trust, CIBSE, IStructE, LETI, RIBA, RICS and UKGBC have all joined forces. The Standard will set out metrics by which net zero carbon performance is evaluated, as well as performance targets, or limits, that need to be met.’

Download the full July report here

The discussion can be broken down in to 3 key concepts:


The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will agree a unified definition of net zero will be part of the initiative. The approach will be applicable to both existing and new buildings (e.g. Homes, Offices, Education, Industry, Retail, Hotels, Healthcare etc.). To start, the focus will be on the most common building typologies, especially those for which industry stakeholders have already robust performance data available to inform the setting of performance targets. Whilst the scheme is not yet ‘live’, designers should familiarise themselves with the standard to ensure ‘future proofing’ of current projects.

‘We are trying to develop a more holistic approach, but it is getting very complex.’

Products / Materials

Commercial Interior Designers are now starting to get requests for material passporting. ‘The format for material passporting for the reuse of steel, for example, could be applied within other sectors. The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) is researching a platform.’

Marcus Hopper, Senior Associate, Gensler, San Francisco joined from San Francisco to describe the pan-Gensler initiative to grow reuse through early stage project planning, partnerships and involvement of wider communities to create social value.

Discussions were subsequently held on recycling materials and products. ‘Recyclable’ is highly debateable. A material may be suitable, in theory, of being recycled but the facilities are not widely available. ‘In France, many products include a repairability index. Introduced in January 2021, the index, which is part of the anti-waste bill, had two goals: to inform consumers at the point of purchase on the repairability of a product and to push manufacturers to sell more repairable products in order to improve their score.’


‘You can’t just chase carbon – many issues are interlinked including wellbeing and sustainability.’

We look forward to sharing information on the next Sustainable Design Collective meeting.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →