Green design

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Green design (also referred to as "sustainable design", "eco-design", or "design for environment") is the catch-all term for a growing trend within the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, industrial design and interior design. The essential aim is to produce places, products and services in a way that reduces use of non-renewable resources, minimizes environmental impact, and relates people with the natural environment. Green design is often viewed as a necessary tool for achieving sustainability. It is related to the more heavy-industry-focused fields of industrial ecology and green chemistry, sharing tools such as life cycle assessment and life cycle energy analysis to judge the environmental impact or "greenness" of various design choices.

Green design is a reaction to the global "environmental crisis", i.e., rapid growth of economic activity and human population, depletion of natural resources, damage to ecosystems and loss of biodiversity <ref name="shu-yang">Fan Shu-Yang, Bill Freedman, and Raymond Cote (2004). "Principles and practice of ecological design". Environmental Reviews. 12: 97–112. link </ref>. Proponents of green design believe that the crisis is in large part caused by conventional design and industrial practices, which disregard the risks and environmental impacts associated with goods and services. Green design is considered a means of reducing or eliminating these impacts while maintaining quality of life by using careful assessment and clever design to substitute less harmful products and processes for conventional ones. The motivation for green design was articulated famously in E. F. Schumacher's 1973 book Small is Beautiful.


[edit] Principles of Green Design

While the practical application varies among disciplines, some common prinicples are as follows:

  • Low-impact materials: choose non-toxic, sustainably-produced or recycled materials which require little energy to process
  • Energy efficiency: use manufacturing processes and produce products which require less energy
  • Quality and durability: longer-lasting and better-functing products will have to be replaced less frequently, reducing the impacts of producing replacements
  • Design for reuse and recycling: "Products, processes, and systems should be designed

for performance in a commercial 'afterlife'."<ref>Anastas, P. L. and Zimmerman, J. B. (2003). "Through the 12 principles of green engineering". Environmental Science and Technology. March 1. 95-101A.</ref>

  • Biomimicry: "redesigning industrial systems on biological lines ... enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles..."<ref>Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins (1999). Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Little, Brown.</ref>
  • Service substitution: shifting the mode of consumption from personal ownership of products to provision of services which provide similar functions, e.g. from a private automobile to a carsharing service. Such a system promotes minimal resource use per unit of consumption (e.g., per trip driven).<ref> Ryan, Chris (2006). "Dematerializing Consumption through Service Substitution is a Design Challenge". Journal of Industrial Ecology. 4(1).</ref>
  • Standardization and modularity: standard, modular parts allow products to be repaired rather than replaced and promote interoperability so that systems can be upgraded incrementally rather than wholly scrapped and replaced.

[edit] Green design in architecture and construction

The best-known application of green design is to architecture and construction. Here the focus is for the project to work in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the site, and to use materials that are sustainably grown or recycled rather than new materials from non-renewable resources.

Building materials may be sought within a 500-mile radius of the building site to minimize the use of fuel for transportation. The building itself may be oriented a particular direction to take advantage of naturally occurring features such as wind direction and angle of the sun. When possible, building materials may be gleaned from the site itself; for example, if a new structure is being constructed in a wooded area, wood from the trees which were cut to make room for the building would be re-used as part of the building itself. Taking advantage of available natural light reduces dependence on artificial (energy-using) light sources. Well-insulated windows, doors, and walls help reduce energy loss, thereby reducing energy usage.

Low-impact building materials are used wherever feasible: for example, insulation may be made from low VOC (volatile organic compound)-emitting materials such as recycled denim, rather than the fiberglass insulation which is dangerous to breathe. To discourage insect damage, the insulation may be treated with boric acid. Organic or milk-based paints may be used.

Architectural salvage and reclaimed materials are used when appropriate as well. When older buildings are demolished, frequently any good wood is reclaimed, renewed, and sold as flooring. Many other parts are reused as well, such as doors, windows, mantels, and hardware, thus reducing the consumption of new goods. When new materials are employed, green designers look for materials that are rapidly replenished, such as bamboo, which can be harvested for commercial use after only 6 years of growth, or cork oak, in which only the outer bark is removed for use, thus preserving the tree.

Good green design also reduces waste, of both energy and material. During construction phase, the goal is to reduce the amount of material going to landfills. Astutely designed buildings also help reduce the amount of waste generated by the occupants as well, by providing onsite solutions such as compost bins to reduce matter going to landfills.

To reduce the impact on wells or water treatments plants, several options exist. "Greywater", wastewater from sources such as dishwashing or washing machines, can be used to flush toilets, water lawns, and wash cars. Rainwater collectors are used for similar purposes, and some homes use specially designed rainwater collectors to gather rainwater for all water use, including drinking water.

[edit] References


Green Design Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

Green design

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