The Insider’s Guide to Sustainable Designs-Practical Examples

The term sustainability has been a mainstay in all discussions involving our planet and how we as humans interact with what’s in it. Sustainability can be loosely defined as “solving today’s problems without compromising the future”. Therefore, the principles of sustainability should be applied in all spheres of life and development with design being among them.

Defining Sustainable Design

With design commonly defined as “a way of doing things” or “an approach of making things,” it has been recognized by many experts in sustainability as being a major area of focus in this initiative. Sustainable design can, therefore, be defined as a way of doing or making things that is conscious of the long-term effects while efficiently solving current problems.

There is so much that needs to be considered when coming up with sustainable design strategies regardless of the area of application. For instance, there is a need for designers to choose environmentally friendly materials when making their designs. As is always the case, pretty much everything that exists starts from a design. William McDonough, an architect, and thought leader is perhaps the most vocal and widely quoted expert whose public lectures and principles about sustainable design are referred to on this topic.

2 Practical Examples Where Sustainable Design Is Applied

Let’s explore two design areas where there are practical applications of sustainable design and how they are or can help move the agenda going forward.

Sustainable Design in Architecture

It’s is easy to assume that the field of architecture has little or nothing to do with sustainability; after all, all they do is draw buildings, right? Wrong, not according to William McDonough as he believes that sustainable architectural designs can have a huge impact on sustainability and help us save the planet. He’s been involved in designing sustainable buildings with the aptly named “icehouse” being the most popular.

Sustainable architecture is all about designing buildings that adhere to some of the principles below;

  • Materials- Remake, reuse, and recycle – Architects have the power to design buildings using sustainable materials. These can also include the use of recycled materials or those that can be reused elsewhere, thus minimizing wastage in construction.
  • Environmentally friendly design- How does a building or structure interact and impact its surroundings? There is a need for architects to incorporate the principles of sustainable design so that buildings have a positive impact on the environment. A good example is how McDonough explains the relationship between birds and nearby buildings in his TED lecture; how a building can act as an impediment or opportunity to birds in the surroundings.

Sustainable Design in Interior Design

So much goes into the process of creating modern interior design projects. There’s the whole issue of material choices such as the choice of furniture, paint, decorations posters, among others. All these have to be chosen with consideration of the principles of sustainability. Questions to ask in relation to sustainability when approaching an interior design project include;

  • Does the material impact the environment negatively?
  • Does the material have longevity?
  • Is the choice of material reusable or recyclable?
  • What about energy consumption?
  • How wasteful is it? Will the project generate more waste if a certain approach is taken?
  • What impact will it have on the occupants? Consider things like air circulation, light, and spatial requirements.

These are some of the fundamental questions that interior designers have to consider to come up with designs that are good for the present and future of our planet and the people in it. Paper Collective is one such company that produces Sustainable design posters that can be used for environmentally conscious design projects.

In Conclusion

Sustainability and environmental conservation go in hand in hand. The future of our planet and our lives depend on the choices we make today. Its people like William McDonough and many others like him together with companies like Paper collective that are driving this agenda forward and making sure that our future on earth is secured through sustainable designs.


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