If you don’t work in design, you may think it has nothing to do with you. But in reality, it’s an integral part of everyone’s lives.
Our homes, clothes, transportation and even our future are design projects. And if the first items on the list are supposed to make life easier and more comfortable, the last one is related to the concept of sustainable development. Its purpose is to meet our needs and, most importantly, the needs of future generations.
Ecodesign is a complex and relevant topic that deserves your attention. In this article, we will explain what ecodesign is, why it is important, and share examples of how to apply it on different levels.
What is ecodesign
Ecodesign or sustainable design is a trend that aims to eliminate negative impacts on the environment. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) identifies the goals of ecodesign as:
- Minimizing waste;
- Creating a healthy environment;
- Reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources.
It is important to note that the concepts of green and sustainable design are not synonymous. The latter is based on the idea of designing to meet current needs while taking into account the implications for future generations.
In general, sustainable design implies a long-term approach to protecting the environment. Whereas “green” focuses on current issues and represents a narrower discipline that is often associated with architecture.
Why ecodesign is important
With the goal of building a better future, sustainable design touches many areas, from beauty to architecture. Using specific examples, we will explain how the principles of sustainable design are already being applied on different levels.
1. Eco-design reduces pollution
The Sydney City Council developed the Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy to embed sustainability principles at every stage of design, from planning and role allocation to project completion.
The section on the proper use of ecodesign principles provides guidelines for urban infrastructure. Based on them, the goal of sustainable design is to reduce people’s dependence on private cars and encourage the use of alternative modes of transport. According to the strategy, the city will create more parking spaces for bicycles, offer a carsharing system and develop a green travel map, following which it will be possible to get to the right place without harming the environment.
For companies, this guide will be a detailed action plan to reduce pollution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Sustainable design helps manage resources
Sustainable design is important because it calls attention to renewable resources rather than relying on hydrocarbon energy and wasted water.
The Marlborough City Council says that while it’s hard to believe that water scarcity could be a problem for New Zealand, the reality tells a different story. Some cities already find themselves in this situation.
If water scarcity is a problem for New Zealand, it is hard to imagine how difficult the situation is in Africa. The solution could be to intelligently design water infrastructure that will reduce water use in homes and stop water supply from rivers and reservoirs.
In terms of energy management, ecodesign suggests replacing old heating systems and switching to renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar panels. This is not just a way to adhere to the basic principle of sustainable design – to reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources – but also a green lifestyle choice.
3. Eco-design promotes cost-effective, long-term solutions
At a time when awareness of this issue is growing, people are ready to switch to a sustainable lifestyle. The only thing that may be stopping them is the cost of eco products. Designers and manufacturers are equally responsible for this. They should strive to lower the cost of eco-product materials and motivate others to switch to them.
Today we see many examples of this strategy being successfully implemented and adopted by small companies and transcontinental corporations. For example, niche cafes and large chains give discounts to those who come with reusable cutlery, or charge more for coffee in paper cups. Polyethylene bags are banned by law, and eco-bags are becoming an alternative.
These are examples of how designers who find cost-effective solutions will get support and opportunities to present their products to a large audience. But it’s not just designers who are responsible for the transition to more sustainable development. Governments and individuals also define the standards of today’s world and contribute to the future we all aspire to by making big and small decisions every day.