• Specify sustainably-grown materials when using paper, cloth, wood, or other organic materials.

• Choose materials based on recyclability, production waste, toxicity, weight, and re­usability over renewability.

• Source materials, where possible, with the highest recycled and post-consumer recy­cled content. [97]


• Calculate costs and impacts over the prod­uct or service’s entire life cycle in order to realize the greatest impacts and benefits.

• Make claims that are transparent and veri­fiable. If you aren’t going to “show your work” by making available calculations or details, don’t bother making the claim.

• Use independent certification or ratings services where you can afford to do so.

• Become knowledgeable of government and third-party standards in order to make claims honestly and accurately. [98]

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This overview of the book’s contents organizes the book’s major principles, sustainability frameworks, and design strategies, indicating where in the development process each is most useful.

[1] Externalities are basically a cheat. Real markets are incredibly complex—much more so than all economic models. When economics acknowledges the factors that influence real market action (such as the decision-making process customers go through or the social and environmental costs of deforestation) but that aren’t included in economic models, they are referred to as externalities (since they’re missing—or external—to the model). The history of economic models is that the most difficult (and often most important) factors governing economies have been externalities missing from the models used to make economic policy.

Another approach is called total cost assessment. This calculation requires a team within an organization to generate and share data from all areas, including manufacturing, design, R&D, engineering, transportation, marketing, facili­ties, purchasing, external affairs, inventory, strategy and management (insurance, legal, accounting), and so on. In addition to cur-

[3] There’s actually little to no evidence that wind-strewn bags, though unsightly, have contributed to the destruction of habitats and resulted in the death of wild birds and animals. March 8, 2008 © Copyright Times Newspapers Ltd., www. timesonline. co. uk/tol/news/environment/article3508263.ece.

[4] The term eco-efficiency was coined by the World Business Council for Sus­tainable Development (WBCSD) in its 1992 publication “Changing Course.” Wikipedia.

At its heart, this framework describes four types of capital:

• Natural Capital describes the natural resources we get from the earth. These in­clude physical things, such as materials and energy, as well as processes and effectives, such as ecosystem services and resiliency due to biodiversity.

[6] Human Capital is the value we get from the work and ideas contributed by people (individuals and society as a whole).

• Manufactured Capital describes the ma­terials and energies people create through

[7] Shift 1: Radical Resource Productiv­ity is the ability to increase dramatically the productivity of our use of natural resourc – es—and, correspondingly, reduce the mate­rial and energy intensity of the products and services we create and use. Though it isn’t specifically mentioned in the framework, this idea is easily extended to all forms of capital, not merely natural capital. Doing more with less has been a tenet of design,

[8] Shift 3: Service and Flow Economies

shift the emphasis from products to services and from objects to outcomes. Instead of concentrating on solutions-as-objects, we

[9] Lovins, Hunter, Development as if the World Matters, World Affairs Journal, 27 June 2005, www. natcapsolutions. org/publications_files/WAJ_ May2005.pdf

[10] Modular manufacturing so that several varia­tions of the car can be made on the same fac­tory assembly line

• Paint cured with ultraviolet light instead of high temperatures

[11] Self-assembly (Many of nature’s solutions, like crystals and DNA, self-assemble with­out the need for factories.)

[12] Cleaning without detergents (Leaves, for example, self-clean because of their surface texture, repelling dirt and water.)

• Water-based chemistry

• Metals without mining (Plants and fungi extract metal from their environment with­out resorting to strip mining or methods that scar the earth.)

[13] Decentralization and distributed con­trol (Resilient solutions are often decentral­ized.)

• Simple building blocks (Create deep complexity.)

• Use of feedback loops (Influence, rather than control.)

[14] www. biomimicry. net

According to the U. S. Environmental Protec­tion Agency, LCA is “a technique to assess the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process, or service by using the following criteria:

• Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental re­leases

[16] Evaluating the potential environmental im­pacts associated with identified inputs and releases

[17] Curran, Mary Ann, “Life Cycle Assessment: Principles and Practice,” National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH, May 2006, www. epa. gov/nrmrl/lcaccess/pdfs/600r06060.pdf, posted 3/20/2008

[18] A “Dust to Dust” study by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, OR http://cnwmr. com/nss-folder/automotiveenergy/

[19] A rebuttal from the Pacific Institute: www. pacinst. org/topics/integrity_of_sci- ence/case_studies/hummer_versus_prius. html

[20] www. pre. nl/download/EI99_Manual. pdf

Consistent with this book’s approach to de­sign, Edwin Datschefski defines beauty as be­ing inclusive of sustainability. To him, unsus­tainable products can’t possibly be beautiful. He defines five unique categories of criteria to encompass sustainability concerns, including the following:

[22] Cyclic refers to solutions that are manufac­tured in processes that close the loop be­tween resources used and wastes generated. This includes recycling, composting, using organic materials, and stewardship over sus­tainable sourcing.

• Solar refers to solutions that use renew­able sources of materials and energy during the manufacturing and use phases (such

as wind, solar, geothermal, and existing

[23] Safe is self-explanatory and extends not only to product safety but also to toxicity of materials, concentration, and location. In fact, all releases from the manufacturing, use, or disposal of products to the air, land, water, or space should be safe for people, animals, plants, and the environment as a whole. This concept reflects the under-

[24] Social refers to the desire for solutions to support basic human rights and “natural justice.” Datschefski doesn’t elaborate and go into as much detail about the myriad so­cial issues described in the previous chapter

[25] This includes embodied energy. Refer to the LCA framework to appreciate how this must be calculated throughout the life cycle. Renewable sources include solar, wind, muscle, photosynthetic, geothermal, hydro, and wave power.

[26] However, not all carpet is the same, so these points are crude numbers based on averages and assumptions. Carpet from Interface, for example, is distinguished in every way from carpet produced by the rest of the industry (www. interfacesus- tainability. com).

[27] Using recycled materials as much as possible in the manufacture of the three parts

• Using an organic cotton wick instead of nylon

• Manufacturing in several locations to reduce transportation

[28] Chapter 10 of The Natural Advantage of Nations, (Earthscan 2005)

[29] www. natcapsolutions. org/, 3/20/2008

[30] www. presidiomba. org/, 3/20/2008

The Sustainability Helix describes five stages through which an organization progresses from least to most sustainable performance:

• Stage 0: Unsustainable

• Stage 1: Exploration

• Stage 2: Experimentation

• Stage 3: Leadership

[32] Stage 4: Restoration

At each of these stages, the framework de­scribes measures to assess how well organiza­tions are doing, desired outcomes that describe

The Helix describes an exhaustive list of strat­egies throughout an organization, including operations strategies such as the following.

Governance and Management Strategies:

• Ethics Strategy

• Project Development Systems

• Risk and Shareholder Value: Insurance Strategy

[34] Unsustainable Life Cycle Risks Strategy

• Shareholder Value Strategy

• Legal: Regulatory Strategy

[35] www. theinquirer. net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/06/03/per-cent-re- turned-electronics

[36] Forgiveness. Systems should help users understand and recover from mistakes eas­ily, such as the near-ubiquitous Undo and Redo commands in computer software.

[37] Natural Cognitive Structures. The per­spective presented of the system, its parts, and its organizational structure should be reasonably accurate, reflect the activities within the system, promote understanding about its use, and reduce the demand for users to memorize actions and behaviors.

[38] www. makingmeaning. org

blog. guykawasaki. com/files/Art. pdf

The economist, Tibor Scitovsky, has devel­oped a theory of joy, explained in his book,

[39] Reclaiming and reusing waste heat from manufacturing for other purposes

The concept of dematerialization considers the materials and energy used throughout the product and service life cycle. At each point, designers have an opportunity to make design choices that optimize the use of materials and energy and reduce the impact of their solu­tions. Some of these choices include the fol­lowing.

Product Manufacturing

[41] Create lighter, smaller products, where possible.

• Minimize the number of components, ma­terials, and type of materials.

[42] Create packaging made from recycled and recyclable materials that are easily separated.

[43] Design packaging with labels, graphics, or instructions molded into them that don’t require additional labels to be affixed.

[44] Use power from renewable sources for on­line and digital service centers.

[45] http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Standby_power

[46] http://michaelbluejay. com/electricity/vampire. html

[47] A great source for understanding the variety of manufacturing processes is the book, Making It, Chris Lefteri, Lawrence King Pubs.

[48] www. besafenet. com/pvc

Some substitutes for PVC include the following.


• ABS (acrylonitril-butadiene-styrene)

• EPDM (ethylene propylene diene mono­mer)

• FPO (flexible polyolefin alloy)

• HDPE (high density polyethylene)

• LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene)

• NBP (nitrile butadiene polymer)

[50] PET (polyethylene terephtalate(

• Polycarbonate (PC)

• TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin)

• XLP (thermoset crosslinked polyethylene)

[51] www. ingeofibers. com

[52] www. bluevinyl. org

5 Many plants actually detoxify their environments.

6 www. toddecological. com/eco-machines/

[53] www. lincoln. ac. nz/story21175.html

[54] The environmental and social impacts of digital music: A case study with EMI: www. forumforthefuture. org. uk/node/966.

[55] www. bbc. co. uk/bloom/actions/carclubs. shtml

[56] en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Architecture_for_humanity

[57] Make the case easily exchanged so that the rest of the phone lasts longer. This has the

[58] Design an effective, usable system to begin with. Solutions that aren’t usable (which may be discovered only after the product is purchased) often are discarded, entering the waste stream prematurely without providing any value for the energy, time, money, and materials used to create, ship, and sell the device (see Chapter 4, “Design for Use”).