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Our sustainable icons and their meanings

With the ever increasing pressure to source responsibly and sustainably we have created icons to assist your sourcing process. Read about each symbol and understand the products you are specifying.

sustainability in interiors
Our sustainable icons and their meanings
Lori Bolon
July 14, 2022

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This article was originally posted on Making Space, a Substack penned by our Cofounder, Matteo Grand. Subscribe below to receive more content just like this.
“The Earth is what we all have in common.”
—Wendell Berry

Portaire was born with the goal to not only simplify the sourcing process for luxury interior products, but to make it easier to discover and source products that were designed with sustainability in mind.

We believe that the design and construction industries have a responsibility to explore sustainable options at every step of a project, from ideating and sourcing all the way through to installation. To support this, we have created a quick identification system for products with sustainable characteristics.

Below is a breakdown of our sustainability icons and their meanings:

Regenerative initiatives are becoming increasingly popular amongst suppliers and simply refer to programs companies have in place to regenerate the environment in some way either through their products or when a sale is made. This can include, though is not limited to, trees being planted once sales are made and donations to reforestation charities.

Low VOC paints are those that contain less “Volatile Organic Compounds” (VOC) or VOC Solvents than traditional coatings. High levels of VOC solvents contribute to the formation of pollution and reduce indoor air quality. Low VOC paints are good for both the environment and living organisms.

Recyclable refers to products that can be broken down and reused / repurposed in the future. Certain materials such as timber and brass are great recyclable options and allow for a new life to be born from the original product.

Sourcing locally can not only make delivery easier and reduce import duties, but can also have a profound positive impact on the environment. Sourcing products locally can be an easy way to minimise carbon emissions, which are known to contribute to climate change.

Did you know: According to UK GBC the building and construction sectors account for nearly 40% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in constructing and operating buildings. However, it might come as a surprise to hear that the carbon footprint of interiors may be responsible for emissions at least equal to or more than those from the building structure and envelope.

Designers and Architects can make many decisions to positively improve a building’s energy efficiency. These mainly include reducing the amount of energy needed for heating, lighting, running appliances, etc., though extend to providing renewable, non-carbon-based energy to the building. 

Broadly speaking, there are four ways to reduce the energy consumption of a building, which ultimately results in mitigating CO2 emissions through energy conservation. These include:

  1. Comfort passive building design and its orientation for harnessing solar energy.
  2. Low embodied energy materials for building construction.
  3. Energy efficient domestic appliance to conserve the building operational energy.
  4. Building integrated renewable energy technologies.

If you see this icon next to a product it means at least one of the four aspects are included.

Did you know: According to UK GBC One of the major contributors to climate change is energy consumption. Energy is used in every stage of building life cycle and according to WorldWatch Institute data, buildings are responsible for the annual consumption of 40% of the world’s energy.

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away and turning them into new products. Recycling benefits the environment as it reduces material waste in landfill, can save energy, protects natural resources, and is a positive contributor to the economy.

Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting  and  over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of  through to disposal. 

For a product to be sustainable, it must be possible to produce and/or consume it in a way that doesn’t result in harm or destruction. A product is usually considered sustainable if it:

  • Doesn’t deplete natural, nonrenewable resources
  • Doesn’t directly harm the environment
  • Wasn’t made in a socially irresponsible way

We hope these icons guide you to make wiser choices for your interiors and the environment because we believe good design doesn’t have to compromise the environment. If you would like to read more about sustainable interiors feel free to read Sustainable considerations every interior designer should make and Sustainable materials that don’t compromise design.