Materials: Beyond the New Normal

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The London Services Healthy Materials Think Tank, in conversation with Ana Dias and Martin Brown, explored a number of the challenges that product manufacturers, suppliers, specifiers and others in our built environment are currently facing and addressing.

Following the think tank, their keynotes covered two emerging solutions and programmes that deal with the themes of ‘living products’ and ‘product transparency’, namely The ILFI Living Product Challenge and Declare.

Healthier Materials Challenges

With 90% of a client’s outgoing costs related to people cots it is not surprising that the sustainability agenda has shifted away from just energy and resources to one that considers the health of those who work, live and play in our buildings. And of course, material choice is vitally important in attaining healthier buildings.

But, we should be doing more than just addressing health, and asking questions on how can our buildings and products improve people health, becoming medical instruments for health improvement. Martin introduced the concept of us all being upstream doctors, affecting the health of all in our buildings, for worse, or for better. Buildings that give more back to people health than they take.


We are now familiar with transparency of the food we buy, through detailed food ingredient and traffic light labelling. Labels such as Declare, that clearly show the ingredients within a product will enable clients, specifiers and procurement teams to make a decision based on the health impact, in the products production, in its use and in disposal.

Carbon Efficiency

If we cannot readily take all carbon out of the manufacturing process or construction overnight, we must pay attention to carbon efficiency – and increasing the value created from each unit of carbon we release. And to balance this with durable carbon, locked into circular economy, long design life products or buildings and living carbon that restores and regenerates our eco systems.


We are increasingly understanding our ecological, resources and carbon Footprints but only now getting to grips with our social, planetary and people Handprint. The handprint can be seen as the influence and impact of all we touch upon as a organisation, manufacturer or individual. It is core to the success of a responsible, just, built environment sector.


Digital buildings that heal … We are slowly understanding the importance of health impacts within the digital world of BIM, through a wider ‘worldview’ of the built environment Material Passports, Healthy Product Data Sheets, Parametric & Regenerative Design and through new digital tools that map comfort and climatic environments such as Ladybug Tools


Understanding and being able to set specification levels, through improved clarity, alignment and transparency across material  sustainability standards

Ana Dias, is a Sustainability Consultant at Mott MacDonald and Facilitator at the London Living Building Challenge Collaborative

Martin Brown is Sustainability Provocateur at Fairsnape, LBC Ambassador, and Living Future Europe Strategy Advisor

Reference Shelf

Living Product Challenge


London Living Building Challenge Collaborative


A pdf version of the key slides used during the think tank and keynotes can be viewed here