ecotecture.GIF (12664 bytes)
Department of   Design and Environmental Analysis,
Cornell University
  1. External Considerations

  2. Core & Envelope

  3. Indoor Ecology

  4. Material/Product Content

  5. Ecotecture Worksheets

  6. Additional  information.

  7. Case Studies

Use the table of contents to go directly to specific topics:




Design Considerations:

Natural or Recycled-  Provide fabrics systems that are recycled or have been produced by natural dyes.  Many of the dyes used to produce fabrics contain toxic substances that will have off-gas effects.  All attempts should be made to utilize fabrics created with non-toxic dyes.  Consider reusing textiles from previous location.

Raw Materials Acquisition- Recyclability and recycling of materials is essential and provisions should be made for the reuse of all products by the manufacturer.  

Raw Materials Processing and Manufacturing-   Avoid using fabrics and textiles that require high amount of embodied energy to build and create a potential environmental desecration through the chemical production, and transportation of them..  Criteria for materials should be set to conserve resources.  Questions such as: Is it needed?  Is there a substitute with lower mass and/or lower embodied energy?

Product Distribution-  Use fabrics that have been manufactured locally in an "sustaining" manner, to avoid environmental impacts of transportation.  It reduces the embodied energy use because materials do not need to be transported over long distances; it helps support local economies; it ensures climatically appropriate solutions for that region; and it expresses the culture of the community.

No / Low Emissions-   Look for products that do not pollute the air inside the building, or at least produce less pollution than conventional products.  Toxicity of materials should be carefully reviewed to protect indoor air quality and the employees from suffering from off-gassing effects.  Consult all MSDS sheets in order to determine presence of harmful chemicals in products, paying particular attention to exposure limits and known medical hazards.  Fabrics and fibers are typically synthetic (eg. Polypropylene) and contain hazardous formaldehyde vapours.  Also hazardous insecticides, soft plastics, flame retardants, crease and stain repellants
Disposal & Renewability- Attempts should be made to use recyclable or biodegradable materials.  


-Consult IAQSpec List for manufacturers and product test results
Air Quality Sciences, Inc. Atlanta, GA
-Consult MSDS sheets for all materials

Case Studies to Research:

Design Tex- William McDonough's completely toxic-free fabrics

Further Information:
-Primer on Sustainable Building
Rocky Mountain Institute
-The Green Pages:  The Contract Interior Designer's Guide to Environmentally Responsible Products and Materials.  
Kim Nadel, C.I.D. & Andrew Fuston, Co-Authors
399 4th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215
-Interior Concerns Resource Guide
Victoria Schomer
131 W. Blithedale, Mill Valley, CA 94941
-Sourcebook for Sustainable Design
Boston Society of Architects
52 Broad St., Boston, MA. 02109
-The Natural Home, Bierman-Lytle, Paul and Marinelli, Janet

Web resources:
-Oikos:  Green Building Source
-Global Environmental Options
-Indra's Net
-Environlink's Internet Green Marketplace
-Energy Efficient Environments, Inc.
-Real Goods Trading Company:  Real Goods Catalog
“Green Market.”  Sutton, Katherine Day. Interiors Vol. 157, No. 1. January 1998, p. 38.




































Cornell University, December, 1998