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Basics Of Sustainable Design
Basic tenents of sustainable design, as outlined in Sustainable Exhibit Design: Guidelines for designers for small scale interactive and traveling exhibits
"In the simplest terms sustainable design should adhere to two main principles:
- 1. Minimising resource consumption
- 2. Reducing pollution.
Minimising resource consumption
"Resources or raw materials can be classified as ‘renewable’ and ‘non- renewable’. Increasing the use of renewable resources over non- renewable ones is imperative. But even more important is the reduction in consumption as a whole. The mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ should be at the forefront of design and manufacturing policy.
"In this analysis it is necessary to consider energy as a resource. It may be a sustainable one if derived from biomass, solar, wind or wave generation or an unsustainable one if derived from non-renewable fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas.
"Specifying renewable raw materials, and products derived from them, is a strategy designers should employ to significantly reduce resource consumption. Occasionally a non-renewable product or material will have to be used where no suitable substitute is available. To make the right decisions in this area, the ability to identify which materials are in shortest supply, is essential."
"Pollution is the major contributor to global warming, ozone depletion and destruction of habitats. The irresponsible use of resources which cause pollution has an impact on all life on the planet.
"To achieve sustainability the production of pollutants must be reduced in energy generation and use, manufacturing and service industries, and waste management.
"Pollutants and toxins exist in many materials where their effect may be unknown or unquantifiable. The problem with toxins is that many will end up in landfill at some point and they cannot be contained. Contaminants such as heavy metals, toxic chemicals and concentrated nitrates eventually find their way into the soil, rivers and water supply thus damaging ecosystems, wildlife and plants.
"An example of a material often used in the building trade, which has a high level of toxins is Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). During manufacture and combustion high levels of dioxins and organochlorines are released and these are known to be linked with cancer, immune system damage and hormone disruption.
"Designers may not have an opportunity to change the composition of what they specify, but usually they do have the chance to specify alternatives which are less harmful."
"Transport considerations can also be crucial to good sustainable design decisions. For example, specifying a material that meets a wide range of sustainability criteria but has to be transported from the other side of the world may be worse than choosing a non-renewable alternative with higher environmental impact but sourced locally. "
[originally published on GreenDesignWiki.com]
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