A Case Study: Green Design

John Thackara, director of the sustainable innovations company, Doors of Perception, explains how the design industry can accelerate the green economy.


| July/August 2009


The waste generated in a consumer economy used to be hidden. The energy and resources needed to produce buildings and products remained out of sight and out of mind. But new tools have increased transparency and enabled researchers to measure energy and resource flows properly for the first time.

Within a system that has a finite carrying capacity, the optimal strategy is to design away the need for more stuff and to focus on regenerative design. A huge amount of creativity is needed to reorganize daily life in ways that eliminate landfills and ecologically damaging footprints. But the stuff we will still make—products, services, infrastructures—must be designed according to tough new principles: low-carbon, resource-efficient and zero waste.

Step one: Map assets

A first step should be to find out what assets and resources are already in your region. These assets could include wind and sun, which have the potential to generate energy; materials and the skills needed to use them; abandoned spaces that could be repurposed; and food systems.



The asset maps will gradually replace many of the maps used by planners or economists. These tend to focus on hard things such as roads or buildings. Sustainability asset maps should make natural and biodiversity assets their starting point, putting special emphasis on biodiversity and bioregions, foodsheds and watersheds, or geographical locations where we can harness sun and wind.

In mapping such assets, it is important to represent the interconnectedness and interdependence of systems. This is where creative design skills will be valuable. New forms of representation are needed to communicate energy and nutrient cycles and to show the ways healthy social systems depend upon, and are intertwined with, healthy economies and ecosystems.







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE









Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265