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About Sustainable Design
Sustainable design, sometimes called green design or eco-design, is a design philosophy that calls for the use of only renewable, environmentally friendly materials and construction methods. A concept first introduced in the 1970s, sustainable design is now being adopted by an increasing number of architects, urban planners, product designers, fashion designers, interior designers and landscape designers. The basic principles behind sustainable design include:
First and foremost, sustainable design must use non-toxic, sustainable materials that are either recycled or produced in a way that causes little to no impact on the environment. Examples might include recycled cotton and wool, bamboo, cork, recycled rubber and recycled glass.
Built to last
Sustainable design is intended to have a long lifespan. Unlike some mass-produced products that are designed to wear out so that consumers must purchase replacements, green design favors product longevity in an effort to reduce landfills and chemical waste. Many green products are also designed to be recycled for other uses after they wear out — for example, an eco-friendly food container might become a flower pot.
Sustainably designed products are not only created using low-energy manufacturing processes, but they are designed to consume less energy while in use. Sustainable architecture, for example, would conserve heat, water and cooling through building techniques and energy-efficient appliances. Sustainable design aims for the smallest carbon footprint possible.
In many cases, sustainable design reduces its carbon footprint by relying on locally sourced materials. Even if a material is eco-friendly, it can have a negative impact on the environment if it has to be transported overseas or across the country. Sustainable landscape design makes use of plants that grow naturally in the area and don't require too much water.
An emphasis on health
Sustainable design aims to create a healthier environment by eliminating toxins and improving air quality. This might mean developing chemical-free manufacturing processes or looking for alternatives to toxic adhesives or preservatives.
When it comes to urban planning, sustainable design often focuses on sharing resources to reduce a community's overall environmental impact. This might mean creating plans for sharing cars or developing more mass transit options. Community gardens and recreational facilities are other features of sustainable design.