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Sustainability Spotlight on DIRTT

DIRTT’s vision is to bring dynamic spaces to life through sustainable construction that enables the working, learning, and healing experience of the people who use them.

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This article was originally published by WorkDesign Magazine. Click here to read the original article.

The concept of designing for sustainability is not new. Sustainable applications, however, continue to evolve as technology advances, offering the opportunity to provide a built environment that meets the demand for spaces that are resilient, healthy, and promote wellbeing.

How spaces are built, and the materials used in the construction process are key components of building sustainably. At DIRTT, their corporate philosophy is driven by the desire to re-think how they build and the products and processes that are used to create interior environments. That very sentiment is front and center on the opening page of their recently released ESG Report.

While there are a myriad of advantages to designing for adaptability, foremost is the necessity to create spaces that work for the moment but are able to change with needs over time; driven by functional requirements of the occupants or dictated by new building tenants. With conventional building methods, these adaptations often result in spaces being demolished and rebuilt. Think about how much wasted time, energy, and material this creates.

“At DIRTT, we are revolutionizing the interior construction industry by considering sustainability at every stage of the business. From our solution design and material selection to installation and beyond, sustainable behaviors are built into our decisions and processes. Every innovation works with what came before it. Everything can be disassembled and reconfigured. And every job we are on helps reduce the wastefulness in the construction industry. We help our clients have the customized sustainable space they need that will adapt with them over time.” - DIRTT ESG Report, June 2021

From the beginning, sustainability has been a core pillar at DIRTT and that includes product designs. DIRTT Solutions are Designed for Disassembly (DfD). This is key to allowing for a maximized life cycle, adaptability, and flexibility in the majority of their solutions. Aluminum frames can be separated and reconfigured. Panels can be removed, refinished, and replaced. Entire solutions can be reconfigured to provide a new space without the waste and environmental impacts of conventional construction. At the end of life, DfD means materials can be separated and individually managed.

For example, an aluminum manufacturer who worked with DIRTT demonstrated the clear advantages of using flexible building components in order to better manage and discourage waste and end-of-life disposal of construction material into landfills.

Working with DIRTT, the original project and subsequent reconfiguration enabled the company to make changes with limited disruption to employees, and reuse existing products. They were able to program the changes and reuse 98% of the products in their space. The initial installation was disassembled in three days and reconfiguration took only a week. Reconfiguring the space utilized existing product inventory and made the process not only cost-efficient but minimized the time to make changes to their space.

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DIRTT recognizes that spaces need to be more than just aesthetically pleasing. Employing best practices as much as possible in sourcing materials that offer sustainability benefits and contribute towards healthy environments for the occupants. They seek certification from organizations leading the way for sustainable design, including:

  • Environmental Product Declarations or EPDs (DIRTT was the first in the industry to release EPDs)
  • SCS Indoor Advantage™ Gold
  • FSC® certification (FSC-C006900)

“As a manufacturer, it is essential for DIRTT to closely track the impacts we are having on the planet and understand how we can minimize them. We regularly review our waste streams to ensure that, whenever possible, materials are diverted from the landfill. We recognize that proper disposal of materials is important but preventing waste from the start should always be the priority. DIRTT sources materials that benefit the planet, including recycled cotton-denim insulation, no-VOC (volatile organic compound) Chromacoat paint, water-borne finishes, Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC-C006900) wood products and materials with high-recycled content. Sustainable materials contribute to improved indoor air quality and a safer manufacturing environment. SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certified assemblies confirm low emissions.” - DIRTT ESG Report – June 2021

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Collaborating with DIRTT early on, a technology company integrated custom features into their space while still meeting their scheduled deadlines. Plug and play power with quick connect features was used in the space to support future flexibility. The space also utilized custom timber design elements, a sustainably sourced material that adds function and flair, as seen in their free-standing pods and canopies.

The design for an energy infrastructure company in Calgary, AB, also utilized an array of timber options for their corporate headquarters.

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