Environmental protection through the adoption of sustainable practices in all industries is an important topic today. As has been clearly said time and again, we ‘don’t have a spare planet that we can move to once we’ve totally exhausted the resources on planet earth. This is why everyone is tasked with the responsibility to adopt sustainable solutions to their trade. Sustainable design is part and parcel of environmental protection and a key to a better existence for this and future generations.
What is Sustainable Design?
Sustainable design is a multidisciplinary initiative cutting across many industries such as architecture, product design, construction, interior design, art and craft, material design among others. It’s a way of making things that is conscious of the environment and the people who use them. At the heart of sustainable design is the efficient use of ‘earth’s resources for the benefit of present and future generations or what is commonly referred to as ecological sustainability.
Before you embark on your next design project, consider joining other companies and experts around the world who have committed to the deployment of sustainable design approaches internally. Some shining examples include companies such as IKEA, Amazon, Herman Miller, Ford, and many others. Another great example of a company taking a practical approach to sustainability in design is Paper Collective, which makes Sustainable design posters while promoting great causes and charities.
6 Sustainable Design Principles You Can Follow
Here are some of the widely accepted sustainable design principles that companies such as Paper collective and IKEA are using today
1) Use of Environmentally Friendly Products/Material
Products or raw materials used in many projects have a varying degree of environmental impact. This principle is, therefore, encouraging designers to incorporate environmentally friendly materials into their project designs. This can be implemented by using things like recycled material, reclaimed wood, non-toxic materials, and packaging, using biodegradable material, among others.
2) Energy Efficiency
When designing manufacturing processes, it is essential to optimize energy usage to increase efficiency. This also covers the design of buildings, product design, among others. Reducing energy consumption through sustainable design will ensure we can reduce our carbon footprint from the word go.
3) Consider Longevity In The Design of Products
Part of the problem why we have to deal with so much waste and inefficiencies is the design of products that have a short lifespan. Sustainable design dictates that we design things that are long-lasting and can continue being useful for as much time as possible. This eliminates the need to replace items frequently an having to deal with waste.
Product longevity or durability is an important aspect of sustainable design. Jonathan ‘Chapman’s book on durable design goes into detail about the design of durable products that last through what he terms as “emotional durability.” Some of the design approaches that can be deployed to improve product longevity include;
- Create emotional narratives with the design of an item.
- Tapping into the user consciousness to encourage ownership.
- Encouraging an emotional connection to the product through design.
- Using imagination to inspire a bond that transcends reality through fiction.
- Creating robust products that last and can even end up having a sentimental value in the end.
4) Sustainable Design Through Reusable and Recyclable Products
This is one of the most critical components of sustainable design. The principle encourages designers to make products or things that can be easily reused, repurposed, or recycled for sustainability. This also involves the use of recycled and reclaimed material in the design of new products to minimize wastage.
5) Versatility in Design for Sustainability
This is a principle that can be adopted by designers of all types of products to make things that serve more than one purpose. Similar products can be merged into one for efficiency and versatility.
6) Material Sourcing
As a designer, you should consider where the materials incorporated in your designs will come from. Can they be sourced from the source in an environmentally friendly way? For instance, can you use locally available material in your designs instead of sourcing them from abroad? Bear in mind that logistics is a significant contributor to environmental degradation and energy usage, thus the need for the efficient sourcing of products.
Sustainable design can be the key to environmental protection and sustainability. It’s imperative that designers in all industries put sustainable design principles at the core of their practices. “We achieved our mission to the moon. Let’s look home from that lofty perch and reimagine our mission on Earth – that is what we need to do here. Together, we can upcycle everything. The world will be better for our positive visions and actions.” William McDonough