Keep Calm and Innovate Sustainably: 10 Tips for Sustainable Design

By Aurelien

Keep Calm And Innovate SustainablyNowadays, sustainable production and consumption still remain an exception. Consumers demand more sustainable products, yet they often lack information about the real environmental and social impacts of their purchases. The problem for designers and product managers: shifting to sustainable innovation is not an easy path.

According to the European Eco-Design Directive, more than 80% of the environmental impact is determined at the design stage.

Would you like to take the jump to eco-design? This SlideShare presentation will drive you through 10 tips to get started with more sustainable design. So keep calm, and innovate sustainably! ;-)

Wanna see these tips in action on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform? Watch the video below:

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Parts of this SlideShare presentation were inspired by the SPIN/Leapfrog Project, a joint initiative from TU Delft, the Vietnam Cleaner Production Center (VNCPC), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Dassault Systèmes. Learn more about the project through the Leapfrog Project blog series.

The Cities of our Future

By Alyssa

Future city

It’s rush hour in the city. People make their way home after a hard day’s work. Driverless cars pass by as cyclists stream along purpose-built lanes, safe from motorized traffic and unpredictable pedestrians.

As the city unwinds into the evening, indoor sensors adjust the ambient temperature and turn lights on; televisions, radios and even baths are operated with a gesture from an armchair.

Outside, sensors monitor atmospheric irritants, ready to alert those at risk should dangerous levels be reached. A computer planning the city’s waste collection receives data about foul-smelling and full bins. Traffic systems constantly check and adjust, ensuring jams and accidents are a thing of the past. Unbeknown to its citizens, every function of the city is silently optimized to make life simple and efficient.

City jungle

This is a common vision imagined for smart cities of the future: efficient, responsive hubs consisting of vast, interconnected technological systems. But can and should technology alone have the power to tackle one the most acute challenges of our time: how a soaring population can live sustainably on Earth.

By 2050, the World Health Organization predicts that 70% of the population, or 6.4 billion people, will be urbanites. Many of these will live in cities that are decades or centuries old, built for vastly smaller populations with very different needs. As these new metropolises gestate and grow, they risk becoming sprawling, inefficient sinks, wasting precious resources such as land, water and energy, and becoming harder to manage logistically.

Now a diverse range of disciplines are stepping up to help solve these challenges, aided by a suite of digital tools that allow scientists and city planners, for example, to see and explore the futures we are creating and their effects on their inhabitants and the planet as a whole.

Ingeborg Rocker is one of those leading this charge.  As the head of the GEOVIA 3DEXPERIENCity project at Dassault Systèmes, which aims to create holistic, virtual models of cities, Rocker believes that to build for the future we need to take a new approach to designing our cities.

small planet

Traditional planning is built on the idea that efficiency is achieved by standardizing every element. Make every road, streetlight, junction and building the same and you drive down costs and make cities easier and quicker to build, expand and repair.   But, much like medicine has come round to the idea that no two humans are alike and therefore need personalized care, Rocker believes that no two cities can be considered the same. Instead, she says that cities need to be viewed and planned as living entities, where every element and every citizen is part of a whole. Changes – no matter how small – cannot be made without examining their impact on the entire organism and its environment.

Studies of the interaction between people and systems have revealed patterns that are anything but standard,” says Rocker, who is also an associate professor of architecture at Harvard University. “If we analyze the patterns and interactions between people and systems – such as transport and waste management – we can develop cities that are still robust while also being highly efficient and sustainable – but in new terms.”

This approach is at the cutting edge of architecture and could lead to a reimagining of the discipline, focused not just on the resulting structure but also the impact a building will have on the planet’s resources. New technology like that in the 3DEXPERIENCity project allow urban planners to digitally study and test ideas, empowering them to constantly consider the impact urbanization has not just within the invisible boundaries of their city, but also on the entire planet and its resources.

“Even the most remote regions of the Earth are affected by urban lifestyles. In the name of sustainability, we must seek new ways to limit the impact urban growth has on our entire geosphere,” says Rocker.

green wall

Discover more about new ways we can develop our cities!  The video below not only gives a glimpse into new technology that city planners can leverage, but tells an interesting story about a project MIT’s SENSEable City Lab ran to track the path and impact of trash across the US.

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You can also read more about in an article that also looks at ideas like Hollywood’s role in envisioning the future.

NOTE: The video and article were first published as an Advertisement Feature on bbc.com running from 27th June 2014 to 5th September 2014, and was created by the BBC Advertising Commercial Production team in partnership with Dassault Systèmes.

Designing Solutions for a Less Wasteful Life

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

Lego bricksThe future of design looks a lot like Legos.

Modular design allows a product to be assembled from easily replaceable or interchangeable parts. Most people are familiar with it in architecture and furniture. However, it’s also being applied to other things, from nuclear-power plants to shoes, submarines and guitars.

Modular design is gaining traction thanks to the convergence of several trends. Mass customization is pushing industries—from consumer products and electronics to automobiles—to find ways to deliver customized solutions without sacrificing economies of scale. Tighter environmental regulations are prompting companies to find ways to reduce waste caused by their products. And consumers, fed up with a throwaway society, are looking for products that manage to last yet which can be upgraded as needed.

Take mobile phones: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans disposed of 129 million mobile devices in 2009 and sent 11.7 million for recycling.

I was thinking about stuff and why we throw it away,” says Dave Hakkens, who invented Phonebloks, a modular design for a mobile phone. “All our electronics are disposable. If a bike has a flat [tire] you fix it, you don’t throw it away. But if a phone part is broken, you have to throw [the phone] away.”

old cellphonesIn wanting to reduce electronic waste, Mr. Hakkens considered several alternatives. “Should I make a phone that could last 100 years?” he asks. “I like technology and the way it evolves and can improve our lives. If I make a phone that lasts 100 years, I won’t be able to upgrade it. But if it has modules that I can upgrade, I can throw away only a little part.”

Unbeknown to Mr. Hakkens, Motorola Mobility had been working on a modular mobile phone as well, called Project Ara. Google, which acquired Motorola in 2011, is expected to unveil its prototype of Project Ara next year. The goal: a phone that can be customized and upgraded at will.

Mr. Hakkens, who came up with the idea of Phonebloks as a graduation project from the Dutch Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, has linked up with Project Ara.

It’s hard to make a phone and it’s a tough world—you need patents, lawyers, you have to compete with big companies,” he says. “I don’t want to build a phone myself. I don’t want to start a phone company. I want to push industry to start a new way to make phones.”

Phonebloks

Mobile phones might be just the beginning. “The Phonebloks concept could be extended to all electronic devices: cameras, TVs, computers,” he says. “You could have building-blocks for electronics, with components that can be exchanged among them and can be upgraded.”

In such a world, it’s possible that new entrants would design the ultimate camera module, while others would specialize in the smallest, lightest battery, and still others would focus on packing more capacity into the memory module. Just as now, you can buy specialized software to meet your needs: in the future, you may be able to buy pieces of a phone to put together the mobile device best suited to your uses.

While some companies choose modular design for competitive advantage, others might find themselves pushed in that direction by environmental-protection laws. The Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) for the European Economic and Social Committee of the European Union is working on ways to stop planned obsolescence.

For example, a decade ago the EU banned chips in printer cartridges that signaled the cartridges were empty when they still contained ink. Now it’s taking aim at things like batteries in phones that are impossible for people to replace themselves—and which are so expensive to have fixed by the manufacturer that most people just buy a new phone instead.

“We’ll have less waste,” says Jean-Pierre Haber, delegate of the CCMI consultative committee. “We now create 500 tons of waste per person per year.”

The CCMI proposes five requirements for consumer goods:

  • a minimum two-year guarantee
  • replacement parts available for at least five years
  • certification on the nature and life cycle of all products, no matter their country of origin
  • manufacturer-trained repair shops, which could generate 450,000 jobs in Europe
  • an orientation toward an economy of functionality, so that rather than buying a product, you buy a service, and companies would see incentives in designing goods that don’t break.

Overall, the thrust is to promote the design of goods that can be repaired or upgraded, rather than requiring purchase of a completely new item.

The online community iFixit, which encourages repair over replacement, suggests design features such as product cases that are easy to open, or that have doors to allow access to the inner workings; making the most breakable parts the easiest to access; making some internal components standardized and replaceable by commodity parts; making repair instructions free and publicly available.

We need lots of innovation,” Mr. Haber says. “But we need innovation that gives added value for the consumer and that doesn’t create problems for the environment.”

We need innovation that gives added value for the consumer and that doesn’t create problems for the environment Tweet: “We need innovation that gives added value for the consumer and that doesn’t create problems for the environment”

For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.



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