Posts tagged ‘eco-friendly’

SFI12: Quantifiable impact.

Part 4 of 5

The third panel was full of projects with clearly recognizable social, environmental, and economical impact. BNIM Architecture’s SEED award winning Bancroft School Revitalization was the first project presented, including heartfelt anecdotes by the neighborhood association’s president, Sandra Hayes. One of her biggest takeaways from this project is that “to be a change agent, you have to build relationships.” Tim Duggan, the landscape architect on the project and a long-term collaborator with BNIM, described another challenge for the team: creating a design language for Manheim that is distinct but still local. Duggan admitted that it’s a tricky but very important line to navigate.

rendering of Bancroft School Revitalization by BNIM and Make It Right

The next speaker was Green Guide for Health Care co-founder Gail Vittori, who realized 12 years ago that “no one was really connecting human health & the built environment.” The work that she has done and encouraged others to do (including some great progress by my employer, Perkins+Will!) has moved healthcare facilities forward by leaps and bounds. Now, the standard for hospital design is finally shifting toward healthy food, water and energy savings, and carcinogen free building materials. When asked about mobilizing this type of change, specifically though the effect of a “multiplier,” Vittori shared that employee retention in a powerful motivator in healthcare; statistics show that nurses stay in their jobs longer when there’s a green commitment from their employer, and hospitals clearly understand the value of lower turnover.

The always entertaining Pliny Fisk, co-founder of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, also shared some pieces of his portfolio. His project goals are strongly rooted in social impact and understanding, making him and Vittori (his wife) quite the power couple of public interest design. With his projects, Fisk said that his aim is for clients to think “that crazy American, he actually understands who we are as a culture.” In my opinion, it’s a goal that’s far from crazy.

MASS Design Group aims for triple bottom line impact with all their projects, including construction of housing for Butaro Hospital’s doctors

Michael Murphy and Tanya Paz were up next, presenting MASS Design Group’s SEED award winning Nyanza hospital. Murphy shared that designing “healthier environments” was the primary goal in founding the non-profit firm, a goal that has definitely been achieved with their celebrated Butaro hospital. The Nyanza project has many of the same goals as Butaro, but is located on a much tighter site, making it both a challenging and very rewarding project to work on.

When the audience asked this panel how we can improve legislation to make healthier cities, several great answers were offered. BNIM’s Sam De Jong reaffirmed the power of seeing the local community as a partner. Duggan reminded the audience to vote! And moderator Michael Gatto added by saying that we all need to be “solutionary” in our approaches.

April 7’s daily design idea is a quote by Make It Right’s Tim Duggan: “the moment you quantify the benefits, the bean counter will understand the value of tree hugging.”


April 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

Spotted: Coca Cola mixes red with green.

It was surprisingly and refreshing (no pun intended) to see this delivery truck the other day:

photo by Gisela Garrett

Not only am I thrilled that Coca Cola is doing their part to lower emissions and generally be more fuel-efficient in the delivery of their product, I’m glad that the trucks got to keep a distinctly Coca-Cola visual identity. It would have been a shame to lose the iconic red for a less recognizable (and overdone) green color.

March 7’s daily design idea is embracing new practices and maintaining your core identity are not mutually exclusive. Kudos to Coke for trying to have it all.

March 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

DeChristopher and his motives.

via GOOD (February 8, 2011), the New York Times (March 4, 2011), and the U.S. Department of Justice (March 3, 2011):

Recently, GOOD provided some background on the spontaneous (and – in my opinion – admirable) undercover actions of Tim DeChristopher: “Back in 2008, a multi-million dollar Bureau of Land Management land auction–one that was set to turn over hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in southern Utah to oil and gas companies–was disrupted by a quiet, 27-year old economics student who simply walked in and started bidding. Today, Tim DeChristopher, aka Bidder70, is facing two felony charges for this act of civil disobedience.”

Yesterday, DeChristopher was found guilty by jury (a ruling that many predict will be appealed again); he faces up to 10 years in prison.

SALT LAKE CITY – Tim DeChristopher thanks his supporters, 3 March, 2011 just outside the federal courthouse where he was found guilty of two felonies for disrupting a Utah BLM oil and gas lease auction in 2009. PHOTO ©2011 by Ed Kosmicki/Ed Kosmickiphotosourcewest.com801 455 5573

Kirk Johnson’s blog post “Do Motives Matter? The DeChristopher Verdict” brings up some weighty questions in the wake of this trial. After pointing out that “the American legal system tends to pay obsessive attention to a person’s motives and mental state” (which can make the difference between vandalism and a hate crime, for example), Johnson writes that “Judge Dee Benson told the lawyers that the case would not be about why Mr. DeChristopher did what he did, but only whether he did it. Federal energy policies and concern about climate change, which were in fact the core drivers of Mr. DeChristopher’s actions, as he has said in many interviews, would not be put on trial, Judge Benson ruled.”

On top of that, “whether the [Bureau of Land Management] was correct in its decision to offer these parcels for oil and gas lease sales was not the question which this jury was asked to resolve. The jury was asked to determine whether Mr. DeChristopher’s disruption of the BLM’s auction of oil and gas leases violated federal law. We believe that the jury properly found that it did,” Carlie Christensen, U.S. Attorney for Utah, was quoted as saying in the U.S. Department of Justice press release about the trial.

I have mixed feelings about admitting this, but I agree. DeChristopher did break the law, but by accepting that risk he managed to make a huge difference. DeChristopher himself even admits it: “I had signed a piece of paper downstairs [before entering the auction] saying that it was a federal offense to bid without intent to pay. But I decided I could live with those consequences, and I couldn’t turn my back on this chance to make an impact.”

March 4’s daily design idea is what would you risk to make an impact?

March 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm 1 comment

Levi’s cares (to air).

Way after the fact (but still way awesome), and via Levi Strauss & Co.’s August 17, 2010 press release:

“Levi Strauss & Co. launched the “Care to Air” Design Challenge on June 1st [2010] to find innovative, covetable and sustainable ways for people to air dry their clothes. After just two months, nearly 140 designs from around the world were submitted for the chance to win up to $10,000 in prizes – and change the way people think about line drying.

“Nothing Is What It Seems” and “The Evaporation Station,” winners in the “Care to Air” Design Challenge by Levi’s

The winning design, “Nothing Is What It Seems,” combines art and function to create an environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing way to dry clothes. Designer Caleb Hill from Winnipeg, Manitoba, created a unique design that uses a work of art to masquerade a drying rack, which unfolds easily to dry a full load of laundry. The proposed design will be made of salvaged wood and hemp rope. The runner-up in the “Care to Air” design challenge is “The Evaporation Station” by Jeff Munie and Marlow Baca of the United States, which uses a series of nested stainless steel racks. Meant for urban dwellers with limited space, “The Evaporation Station” can be easily mounted on any wall and attractively displayed when not in use.”

March 2’s daily design idea is improving the environmental impact of the other products that your product interacts with is helpful too! Glad to see that Levi’s is also a company that cares.

March 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm Leave a comment

“Planned obsolescence with conviction.”

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful and thought-provoking lunch with Andrew Losowsky and his friend Matt today. One of the many topics we covered was the trend of creative businesses striving more and more for greater accountability and overall awareness of their products’ lifespans.

While my knee jerk reaction in this arena is to promote investment into more expensive and longer lasting products, I was fascinated to hear about Nike’s ultra-light Mayfly Men’s Running Shoe. The shoes only last for 100 km, or roughly 62 miles. At that point, you send the shoes back to Nike to be recycled instead of dumping them in the trash, as would be the case with other short-lived products like batteries or disposable razors. So the shoes have a deliberately short lifespan (a design strategy usually called “planned obsolescence”) but waste relatively little resources, except possibly those from shipping.

Thanks to BERG London for posting about their experience with the Mayfly shoes, and to Andrew for tipping me off to it. All photos from Flickr user moleitau (aka BERG principal Matt Jones).

February 11’s daily design idea is even the best eco-friendly products must come to an end. Let’s hope that more and more used products can be handled like the Mayfly shoes!

February 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm 1 comment


LCA stands for Life Cycle Assessment.

In 2007, Metropolis defined LCA as “a process to assess the environmental impact of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle, from manufacturing and production through consumption and disposal.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency‘s website (last updated December 3, 2010) describes LCA as “a technique to assess the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process, or service, by compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases; evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs and releases; and interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision.”

graphic via re-nest‘s tips on Conducting a Mini Life Cycle Assessment

Many other explanations fundamentally say the same thing: LCA helps us figure out where all the components of a design come from, how they get incorporated into the design, what happens during use of or experience with the design, and where all the components end up after that use or experience is over. Abstractly, it’s not a difficult concept. But more specific parts of the assessment process (such as where and how you get your data) aren’t always clear or standardized. In Core77, Tim Greiner of Pure Strategies describes how weight percentage helps him narrow down his focus when doing LCA for a product. “For example, a material that makes up 40% versus 1% of a product’s weight may need greater attention.” The follow up question, of course, is percentage do you choose as the cut-off?

For more information on some available tools for helping you figure out your design’s LCA, check out the bottom half of the Core77 article by Lloyd Hicks.

December 10’s daily design idea comes from the Core77 article mentioned above, dated March 4th, 2010: “Every stage in the product’s life cycle has potential impacts on the environment; LCA gives designers the ability to make informed decisions to reduce those impacts.” Designers may not be consistently informed, since different methods of LCA will provide somewhat different results, but having some information is almost always better than having none.

This post is part of the series “WTF..?” that defines and explores acronyms in the design world. Previous posts include “WTF is IEQ?”

December 10, 2010 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

3×3 with Jennifer Hoffman.

Jennifer Hoffman is a Designer and the Principal/Founder of Ecohaven Project.

What do you design?
Interior Design, Branding, Art Direction, Mixed Media Art + most recently – Collaborative Design.

Copyright Jennifer Hoffman

Where do you design?
Chicago, IL

Copyright Jennifer Hoffman

Why do you design?
We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, which is usually more polluted than outdoor city air.  In addition, we spend our time in spaces that aren’t designed well in terms of aesthetics, functionality, accessibility + sustainability.  Designing functional, beautiful + inspiring environments that are healthy + safe for the planet + its people is fundamental for good design.

In terms of Ecohaven Project + collaborative design, we’re just starting out.  On the projects we’ve worked on so far, it’s been really great to brainstorm ideas with other disciplines to come up with interesting + innovative solutions for design problems.  We’re big fans of IDEO’s collaborative design process because everybody has the opportunity to contribute.  We also like the idea that EVERYBODY is a possible design collaborator in this forum.

November 4’s daily design idea is be more like Jennifer: take care of the earth, take care of its people, and collaborate in the process.

Jennifer Hoffman Design:

Ecohaven Project:

November 4, 2010 at 10:44 am Leave a comment

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