Material Sourcing: Interview

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  • Date August 8th, 2011 11:55
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  • We recently had the chance to interview Gensler's Material Librarian, Jessie Wu to discuss green material sourcing in China. Gensler is an American-based international design firm with a team of architects, designers, planners, and consultants. Responsible for 3,000 projects each year, Genler partners with their clients to deliver local solutions with a global perspective. Gensler's team includes 2,500 employees working in 38 locations around the globe. Gensler is the brains behind the Shanghai Tower which, when complete, will be China's tallest building.

    Interview with Jessie Wu (JW), Gensler Librarian

    GIGA: What is the definition of a green material, in your opinion?

    JW: Materials that meet the requirements of China's Three Star Green Building Standard and LEED. Sourcing and production phases should both be evaluated. Additionally, we consider material impacts on the environment and human health.


    GIGA: How do you find green materials?

    JW: Mainly from professional websites and design magazines. We also hear from manufactures directly.


    GIGA: What makes you trust that a material is green? What do you wish manufacturers would tell you?

    JW: Certifications and test reports (national or international) are quite important. Different product categories will have different test requirements, and I require manufacturers to provide related information. 


    GIGA: What green materials do you have the hardest time finding?

    JW: Each project will have its own requirements and deadlines. It is difficult to find the right green material during project timelines.


    GIGA: Many designers are willing to choose green materials, but in the end, they aren't specified. In your opinion, what impedes designers from choosing green materials?

    JW: Most projects will be constrained by the project budget. Additionally, green material certification systems are still being developed, and are not well known by the public (clients). It would help if manufactures improve their after-sales service and support material reclamation programs. 


    GIGA: "As a well-known international design company, Gensler seems to have more freedom to use green materials. Meanwhile, less known, smaller design companies seem to have a harder time sourcing green materials." What do you think about the above saying? 

    JW: Yes, well-known international design companies usually has more chances to design green projects. However, local or small companies can take initiative by talking about green design with their clients, work to convince them to adopt green solutions, and continually collect the green material information.


    GIGA: In order to realize China's green material potential, GIGA encourages transparent product information, providing a platform for manufacturers to compete based on ecological impact. The result: incremental improvement, enabling manufacturers to produce and sell green materials in China. In this process, GIGA needs support from a range of stakeholders: designers, developers, tenants, etc. How can designers support this mission?

    JW: Designers are the bridge that connect clients with manufactures, playing a key role of pushing China’s green material potential. We should keep learning green material information, testing and using these materials in green projects. Meanwhile, we should also keep asking manufactures to provide more transparent information, which will better help our clients to achieve better design solutions.


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