Theme 2012: Green Materials

The theme of the Materia collection at Material Xperience China is “Green Materials” and is centred around the exciting opportunities that sustainability presents to designers and architects. Concrete made of elephant grass, super-insulating glass, nanogel, bio-resins, plastics from recycled chewing gum, flexible films with solar cells, houses from paper, concrete made from bacteria…. What these materials have in common is that they all share sustainability one way or another.

Nowadays sustainability is regarded as an issue of some urgency. If we want to keep our planet safe for our (grand) children to live on, decisions will have to be made on energy, pollution, waste processing and other such areas that affect sustainability. But in order to make the right choices, we need information. How to decide whether a material is sustainable? The term “Cradle to Cradle” (C2C*¹) is at the core of this issue: all energy, waste substances and toxic emissions produced during the life cycle of a product, plus the environmental impact, will determine the sustainability of a product.

Green Materials
Materia has translated this definition into what it really signifies for materials. The requirements that affect sustainable materials cover all stages of the lifecycle, from design to production, processing, usage, maintenance and waste. Sustainability represents just one of these requirements: other matters for consideration are the aesthetic, economic and technical factors that arise. A material will never prove to be sustainable and successful in the long run, if aspects such as beauty, functionality and economic issues are not taken into consideration. In the development of sustainable materials, the following six guidelines can be followed for the benefit of the environment:

• Use undepletable energy sources
• Use renewable materials
• Use recycled materials
• Use lightweight materials
• Use residual materials
• Avoid toxic emissions