Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Einar Aslaksen

Ground-breaking fossil-free steel furniture

Architecture & Design

The production process eliminates carbon emissions and produces water as a waste stream


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Spotted: Steel production is responsible for around 8 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. As carbon-intensive as the material is, it is also extremely useful across sectors, so it’s important we find more sustainable ways of making and using it. Now, Norwegian furniture manufacturer Vestre, is using fossil-free steel in its designs. 

The first piece is a bench called the Tellus that is designed for longstanding outdoor use. With wide armrests for extra comfort and the ability to rest a coffee cup on them, the bench epitomises Vestre’s approach to creating beautifully functional public pieces. 

The steel comes from renowned producers SSAB. It is SSAB’s groundbreaking HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) technology that replaces traditional iron ore with fossil fuel-free hydrogen. Developed in partnership with mining company LKAB and energy company Vattenfall, the process’s waste stream no longer produces carbon dioxide. Instead, it produces water, a material that is much easier to clean and reuse.  

The Tellus bench was designed by award-winning Swedish designer Emma Olbers as part of Vestre’s commitment to local and sustainable materials and processes. Olbers has long incorporated sustainability into her designs, and Vestre explicitly works to align its business with multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Video source Vestre

Vestre estimates that around 60 per cent of the company’s total current carbon footprint comes from its use of steel, so by switching to the fossil-free version, Vestre hopes to reduce its emissions output by up to 60 per cent. SSAB plans to make the steel widely available by 2026, and Vestre hopes to use the steel in more of its designs once the material is commercially available. 

Decarbonising the construction industry is a huge task, one that innovators are approaching from a variety of angles. Springwise’s archive highlights examples that include a paint that passively cools buildings and a software platform that assesses the resilience of property portfolios.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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