i+D - May/June 2021 - 32

The Future of Materials - By Diana Mosher
Jason McLennan
The desire for transparency is driving a trend toward less
toxins in products. Designers also want to understand the
carbon footprint of a product and how to make it smaller,
according to McLennan. " I think a true circular economy is
going to take leadership from the government sector as well
as the private sector working together, " he says. " People
and communities will need to change their buying habits.
It's really a shared responsibility. "
" When we translate some of this information into numbers,
people can start to make sense of their selection process, "
says Frost. " You can tailor your selection process to try to pick
what you think are better options. " There's no right or wrong
answer; the important part is that the designer is making a
better-informed choice based on additional information. " We
want you to be able to pick something and move on, " adds
Frost. " But, at the same time, I want you to be able to dig in a
little bit deeper at your own pace. "
Transparency Is a Must
Jason McLennan, CEO of McLennan Design, is the
founder, former CEO, and immediate past chair of the board
of directors for the International Living Future Institute. He
also is responsible for creating the Living Building Challenge,
Living Community Challenge, Living Product Challenge,
JUST Social Justice Label, and Declare. One of the benefits
of being a part of the green design movement for a long
time is that you get to see changes in the industry, according
to McLennan. When it comes to healthy materials, " The
design community is becoming more sophisticated, more
conversant and knowledgeable, but there's an unevenness
across our industry, depending on the region and discipline, "
he says. The International Living Future Institute, and others,
offer programming for designers at all stages of their healthy
materials journey.
The trend toward greater transparency is helping everyone make
more informed decisions. " You need to understand what's in a
product and how it's made, " says McLennan, who created the
Declare label because he was frustrated, when comparing this
interior product selection experience to being in a grocery store.
" Declare was basically the first nutrition label for materials, "
he says. A Declare label answers three questions: Where does
a product come from? What is it made of? Where does it go
at the end of its life?
Manufacturers are realizing that it's in their best interest to
be open rather than secretive. " When I launched the Living
Building Challenge Red List many years ago, everyone told
me that manufacturers would never disclose their ingredients,
there was too much risk, and so on, " says McLennan. He has
enjoyed proving those critics wrong. He says, " What we've
seen is manufacturers who want to be leaders, and they want
to have better products. They don't want to make people sick. "
In the meantime, designers can move the process along by
talking to clients transparently about the benefits of certain
materials in terms of health and wellness. Many clients are
already becoming well versed on their own. Whatever their
level of interest and knowledge, they will welcome having
a heathy-living advocate on their team.
DIANA MOSHER, Allied ASID,
is a New York-based interior designer and
media consultant. She was the 2017-2019
communications director for the ASID
New York Metro chapter and continues to
be active on the communications committee.
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i+D - May/June 2021

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