Efficient Use of Materials

Photo: Zack Frank, Smithsonian American Art Museum. License: CC BY 3.0.


We can debate all day about how to calculate the environmental and health impacts of products, but they all have a footprint. So using less is always a good idea—as long as that doesn’t compromise performance.

Doing more with less takes knowledge and attention: it’s about investing in human resources instead of wasting natural resources. And since our small planet has more humans every day, we’re not likely to run out of them anytime soon.

Key strategies to consider:

  • more-efficient structures

  • exposing the structure rather than layering on finishes

  • more-durable finishes

  • repairing and retrofitting rather than replacing