A Simple and Sustainable Way to Source Building Product Samples


Sustainability is a big focus for the industry at the moment and will continue to be important in the future. It is great to see how energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint are being prioritized for new constructions and renovations.

Architects and designers are also looking to be more sustainable in their internal processes. One process that has been particularly wasteful in the past is sourcing building samples. Luckily there is a more sustainable (and efficient) way to get the samples you need for your projects, with online platforms that have central distributions hubs. One such company that we will use as an example is Swatchbox.

Here are a few processes that become easier and less wasteful when you order your samples through a centralized hub.

1. Only ordering the samples you actually need

A Simple and Sustainable Way to Source Building Product Samples

Getting your samples in time for your projects is incredibly important, especially if you are working on a tight deadline. When ordering samples from different manufacturers it can be hard to judge how long the process will take with communication and shipping. Firms have been able to get around this by building a comprehensive sample library of their own. Those samples would then just sit there and eventually become outdated.

The benefit of Swatchbox is that all their samples are in one central location and can be shipped out incredibly fast. This means that you can source samples "on-demand" rather than having to keep a sample room fully stocked. You can find everything you need in one place, such as paint samples to decking samples, flooring samples, solid surface samples, etc.

2. Combined shipping

A Simple and Sustainable Way to Source Building Product Samples

On the topic of shipping, when you order directly from manufacturers, each sample would have to be individually wrapped and shipped out.

When you order through a central hub instead, you don't need to worry about all the extra boxes and wrapping as these get sent out as one big package. Shipping it as one package from one location also results in less carbon emissions.

3. Returning the samples

A Simple and Sustainable Way to Source Building Product Samples

The truly wasteful part of the sample processes is when you are done with them. Many samples become outdated or you just need to get rid of some when space becomes an issue.

Swatchbox invites designers and architects to return any unwanted materials free of charge by requesting a prepaid shipping label. Any undamaged samples can go back into the library and others are sustainably recycled.


Sample sourcing and management can be a lot more efficient and sustainable with the use of these online platforms. It might be on a smaller scale than creating large energy-efficient buildings, but it is still one step closer to our goal of preserving the planet.

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