While much of the focus in sustainable architecture goes to the innovative approaches and design thinking behind the structures themselves, it’s often the interiors that really provide the icing on the sustainable cake.

Adding to that, interiors have (arguably) more pressure to be visually appealing, while remaining functional. While no one likes an ugly building, an interior that is dark, oppressive, or not fit for purpose, is often found to be closer to unbearable than unpleasant. That creates an interesting dynamic in both the fabrication and reuse of interior design materials as both manufacturers and specifiers seek to perfect the balance between aesthetics and functionality.

It’s with that in mind that we’ve curated four of the trends that are currently shaping sustainability in interior design.

Recycled carpet

Whether we’re talking commercial or residential, recycled carpet is very much a thing (though admittedly more so in the commercial space). There are now numerous manufacturers who offer reclaimed carpet that is still fit for use, or new carpet that is made entirely of recycled fibre. Add to that the growing movement towards end-of-life reuse programs that is becoming prevalent, and you have a recipe for sustainable success.

Natural fibres

Natural fibres, and wherever possible, locally sourced natural fibres, are generating huge sustainability (and aesthetic) benefits across a range of projects and construction types. Everything from bamboo to cork, jute to straw, and boho favourite linen, are being utilised to provide the softer textures and more biophilic feel that are growing in popularity everywhere.

Wood cladding

Wood is one of the great redemptive stories of sustainable industry. From having a reputation (and justifiably so) as an industry that would log first and ask questions later, with little to no regard for consequence, Australian timber has emerged as one of the most sustainable construction materials around. Because of this, wood has experienced a significant resurgence in all areas of construction - particularly interior cladding. From engineered flooring to plywood panels, in this country, sustainability and wood are synonymous.


Versatility and low energy usage. What more could a sustainable interior designer ask for? LEDs are quickly becoming the standard in new construction, and are increasingly being swapped in for dated light fixtures in existing buildings. They’re one of the most game-changing technologies of the past twenty years, and their ability to create an infinite collage of lighting styles, intensities and colours at a mere fraction of the energy required to do the same through traditional means is unparalleled. They’re the benchmark, and we’ll only be seeing more of them.

Sustainable interiors are an incredibly versatile and dynamic category of architecture - one in which the constraints of purpose, aesthetics, and form, breed immense creativity and innovation. The trends listed above barely scratch the surface of the exciting things that are happening in this space, and we’re looking forward to seeing it evolve in coming years.

Got a project that aligns with the projects mentioned here? We'd love to see it. Head to sustainablebuildingawards.com.au to submit it for consideration.