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What is happening around us?..........................................................02 The limits to growth............................................................................08 The two models of development.........................................................13 Designer as a change agent...............................................................21 Designer as a creator.........................................................................28 Designer as a enterprenuer................................................................35 Sustainabilty is dynamic....................................................................40


“We are in trouble just now because we are in-between stories. The Old Story—the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it—sustained us for a long time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with life purpose, energized action, consecrated suffering, integrated knowledge, and guided education. We awoke in the morning and knew where we were. We could answer the questions of our children. But now it is no longer functioning properly, and we have not yet learned the New Story.” - Wendell Berry




Are we degrading our planet Earth? We may not be doing it on purpose, but our presence is having a negative effect on our environment. What is causing this degradation? • pollution • depleting natural resources • population growth • unequal distribution of resources • global warming and climate change

Pollution Pollution is the process of making land, water, air dirty and unsuitable to use. Land can become polluted by household waste or by industrial waste. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers A little over half of the waste is gathered in landfills (54 percent). Only 34 percent is recycled. Water pollution happens when dangerous foreign substances are introduced to water, including chemicals, sewage, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural runoff etc. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44 percent of stream, 64 percent of lakes and 30 percent of bay and estuarine areas are not clean enough for fishing and swimming in the world.

Courtesy - The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

Children are reflected in groundwater, believed to be contaminated, near the site of the deserted Union Carbide factory on November 28, 2009 in Bhopal, India

The effects of air pollution on human health are dangerous. Air pollution kills more than 2 million people each year, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The Bhopal Tragedy Thirty years ago, on the night of December 2, 1984, an accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released at least 30 tons of a highly toxic gas called methyl isocyanate, as well as a number of other poisonous gases. The pesticide plant was surrounded by shanty towns, leading to more than 600,000 people being exposed to the deadly gas cloud that night. The gases stayed low to the ground, causing victims throats and eyes to burn, inducing nausea, and many deaths. Estimates of the death toll vary from as few as 3,800 to as many as 16,000, but government figures now refer to an estimate of 15,000 killed over the years. Toxic material remains, and 30 years later, many of those who were exposed to the gas have given birth to physically and mentally disabled children. For decades, survivors have been fighting to have the site cleaned up, but they say the efforts were slowed when Michigan-based Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide in 2001. Human rights groups say that thousands of tons of hazardous waste remain buried underground, and the government has conceded the area is contaminated. There has, however, been no long-term epidemiological research which conclusively proves that birth defects are directly related to the drinking of the contaminated water. Courtesy - The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.


Climate change is projected to increase disruption of food production in many regions across the world, leading to increased prices. Damaging outcomes are predicted to become very likely from 2050 to 2100. The U.S. has among the highest carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, leading to years of record-breaking temperatures. Since the United States is a hub of a globally-connected food network, the climate changes we see here are felt all over the globe. Global temperature and precipitation changes affect production, processing and the health of food distributed. Sea-level rise and extreme weather events due to climate change heavily impact the transportation of food worldwide. Using worst-case greenhouse gas emission projections and population growth estimates, the USDA estimates the global number of people considered undernourished would increase by 175 million by 2080 Using models with less intense greenhouse gas emission estimates, this puts a minimum of 60 million more people undernourished. Between the best-case and worst-case scenario for projected greenhouse gas emissions, the number of people without access to nourishing foods still increases by tens of millions. Courtesy - Reardon, Kelly. “Impacts of Climate Change on Global Food Security (video).” N.p., 2016. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.

Depleting natural resources If we use earth’s resources faster than it can replenish, this leads to depletion of natural resources. Our current global population is 7.3 billion whereas earth’s total resources are only good for 2 billion people at the current demand. The way we’re living, we are already using more of the Earth’s natural resources than what is sustainable. Due to increase in urbanization and boom of industrial economy we are facing problems like soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, flooding, drought etc. Many countries rely on fossil fuel for their energy needs which is non-renewable. Since there is an increase in scarcity of natural resources we tend to invest more energy to obtain the resource than the usable energy itself. This ratio is called the energy returned on energy invested.

Population growth According to the united nations data the world population record for 2016 is 7.3 million and projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and surpass 11 billion in 2100. On the other hand the food production recorded is 10 million in 2016, food demand is predicted to increase by 50% by 2030, 70% by 2050. The planet is not expanding. We have only so many resources (food, water and energy) that can support a human population. So a growing population must pose a threat to the wellbeing of our planet, shouldn’t it? Not necessarily.

The chart indicates the amount of left natural resources on earth

Courtesy - “Empowering.” Home - Plan C - Empowering Circular Futures. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Rise in temperature and sea levels hinder the ability of people around the world to access safe and nutritious food.


courtesy - @Dreamstime. “Population Growth.” Population Growth Stock Images - Image: 18102904. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

The world population on the planet is not the issue, but the number of consumers and their consumption patterns. David Satterthwaite, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, quotes Gandhi: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” According to Malthusian’s theory the human population grows exponentially (doubling with each cycle)

Widening gap between the rich and the poor The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says. In its 34 member states, the richest 10% of the population earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10%. There is no standard measure of inequality, but most indicators suggest it slowed or fell during the financial crisis and is now growing again. The OECD warns that such inequality is a threat to economic growth. The report says this is partly because there is a wider gap in education in the most unequal countries, which leads to a less effective workforce. Courtesy - By Michael D. Yates Topics: Inequality, Political Economy Places: Global. “Measuring Global Inequality by Michael D. Yates | Monthly Review.” Monthly Review. N.p., 2016. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.

while food production grows at an arithmetic rate (repeated addition). This theory was proposed by Thomas Robert Malthus in his essay on “Principle of Population” in 1798.

The vast and growing gap between rich and poor has been laid bare in a new Oxfam report showing that the 62 richest billionaires own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.

For instance, if we, in the United States of America don’t change our consumption pattern, we will need approximately 5 earths in order to keep the planet sustainable.

Mark Goldring, the Oxfam GB chief executive, said: “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so few, you could fit them all on a single coach.

Unequal distribution of resources

“World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action to ensure that those at the bottom get their fair share of economic growth.

At the beginning of the 19th century, average incomes in the richest nations were about 4 times greater than those in the poorest nations. 100 years later at the turn of the 20th century, average incomes in the richest nations are 30 times larger. This indicates the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Why is poor unsustainable? Since the poor people are deprived of resources they tend to destroy nature. For example if there is unequal distribution of natural gas, poor people may cut more and more trees in order to use wood as fuel.

In a world where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night, we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever bigger slice of the cake.” Courtesy - Elliott, Larry. “Richest 62 People as Wealthy as Half of World’s Population, Says Oxfam.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. courtesy - @• Nelson, Jerry. “Elderly Beggar Leaves Behind a Fortune When She Dies · Guardian Liberty Voice.” Guardian Liberty Voice. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Natural resources need specific conditions in which they can be formed hence in nature, natural resources are not distributed evenly.


We destroy 30 square meters of Arctic sea ice every year. New research calculates the impact of the average westerner’s carbon emissions to help people understand their own contribution to climate change.The average westerner’s carbon emissions destroy 30 square meters of Arctic sea ice every year, according to new research. The work indicates that, even with current efforts to cut emission the Arctic will lose all its ice in summer within about 20 years. Plummeting Arctic sea ice cover is one of the most obvious signs of climate change and is increasingly linked to extreme weather events such as storms and floods in Europe and severe cold snaps in the US. “It allows us, for the first time really, to intuitively grasp how we all individually contribute to global warming,” he said. “The observed numbers are very simple. For each tonne of CO2 that a person emits anywhere on this planet, three square meters of Arctic summer sea ice disappears.”

Global warming and climate change Global warming is defined as the increase in earth’s surface temperature due to emission of greenhouse gases. Climate change is defined as a long-term change in the earth’s climate which includes global warming, changes in precipitation, rise in sea-level etc. According to the IPCC Report 2007, industrialization and deforestation have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth’s surface. Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it. These gases persist in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even if such emissions were eliminated today, it would not immediately stop global warming. A follow-up report by the IPCC released in April 2007 warned that global warming could lead to large-scale food and water shortages and have catastrophic effects on wildlife.

Courtesy -Source - Melting of Muir Glacier, Alaska , (NASA, 2015)

“So far the global warming debate has always been about very large numbers like billions of tonnes of CO2 or very small numbers like 0.1C of temperature change,” he said. “Our study allows us to understand that it is really our own individual actions, every day, which contribute to ongoing global warming.”

The melting of glaciers due is a direct effect of global warming and leads to major climate changes on the planet

Courtesy - Carrington, Damian. “Your Carbon Footprint Destroys 30 Square Metres of Arctic Sea Ice a Year.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

We need to understand that the above discussed factors are highly interconnected and interdependent, for instance, extraction of oil leads to depletion of earth’s resources and the combustion process to releases high levels of carbon dioxide and which in turn pollutes the air we breathe and the heat caused increases the global warming. In this example we observe the interdependence of pollution, global warming and consequently depletion of the non-renewable resource.


“A system isn’t just any old collection of old things. A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that it achieves something. The system produces its own pattern of behavior over time.� - Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows




Richard Buchanan, an academician and professor of design and management, in his book “Wicked problems in design thinking”, 1992 defines the problems as follows: “A class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with confusing values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing” “Without integrative disciplines of understanding, communication, and action, there is little hope of sensibly extending knowledge beyond the library or laboratory in order to serve the purpose of enriching human life.” “Expand the role of design in sustaining, developing, and integrating human beings into broader ecological and cultural environments, shaping these environments when desirable and possible or adapting to them when necessary.”


Our ecological debt gets worse every year, Earth Overshoot Day data show

Earth is finite and has limits to growth Due to some of the factors discussed previously and many more, we understand that the earth is finite and has limits to growth, if we continue to extract resources from earth faster than we replenish, it can lead to catastrophic consequences. To understand the earths limits to growth we need to understand a few terms.

It’s less than eight months into 2016 and the ominous day is already nearly upon us: Earth Overshoot Day, previously known as Ecological Debt Day, is a reminder of the enormous toll we take on the Earth. The day marks the juncture when humanity’s demand for ecological resources exceeds what the planet can replenish annually. In 2016, it falls on Monday, which means people have already consumed an entire year’s worth of the world’s resources and we still have four months to go until the year’s end. For the rest of 2016, we’ll be “living on resources borrowed from future generations,” as the World Wildlife Fund pointed out when we failed last year. Troublingly, this year’s Overshoot Day is happening earlier than ever before. Courtesy - “We’ve Already Used up Earth’s Resources For 2016 -- And It ...” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.

To overshoot means to grow rapidly beyond the limits of carrying capacity. When this overshoot `begins to slow, stop, or reverse growth. In addition, as the limits of our natural systems are exceeded they are degraded, which results in the overall carrying capacity being diminished. Overshoot leads to a sudden and catastrophe collapse. The book ‘limits to growth’ was first published in the year 1972, written by Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III talks about the exponential economic and population growth. It is based on 5 variables: world population, industrialization, food production, pollution resource depletion. Courtesy -“Overpopulation, Overconsumption – in Pictures (PHOTO).” News Agency Vector News English. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

We’ve failed again.

An ecological footprint is measure of the human impact on the ecosystems of our planet. It can be measured at local or global level. At a global level, it is used to estimate how rapidly we are depleting natural capital. The Global Footprint Network calculates the global ecological footprint from United Nations and according to their estimate, as of 2007 our planet has been using natural capital 1.6 times as fast as nature can renew it.

Courtesy -


Courtesy - “the limits to growth - A 30 year update”

My ecological footprint , location - Mumbai, India

A 30 years later a synopsis to this mentions about a tool to measure some state of world scenarios which presents several permutation and combinations of the state of world all leading to ultimate collapse of the planet.

This leads to decline in the agriculture and service markets leading to issues of poverty and food security. • Ultimately there is no food left to feed the increasing population leading to its abrupt decline and increase death rates.

• One of the scenario is called the ‘business as usual scenario’ in which the world proceeds in the current manner without any deviation in policies. • The population continues to rise on one hand and industrialization continues to grow, the natural resources will start to decline due to increase in demand in housing and transportation sectors. • Hence more capital is invested in extracting the natural resources.

Hence, the transition to a sustainable requires more conscious and active effort to reduce the ecological footprint and there are several ways to do it. Courtesy - “Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update.” Strategic Direction 22.1 (2006): n. pag.Web.


“Any force applied to the system has consequences. A well designed system can absorb these forces and still maintain system functionality.� - Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows



14 As discussed earlier there are various signs to indicate that we need to change our thinking and devise better methods of designing and planning.

Courtesy -Muneer A.Safiah , The noun project

The expansion model is dominated by technological innovation to enhance human experience making materialism integrals to notions of happiness. Hence the expansion model is driven by “product based well-being”. The development and increase in use of new technologies stimulates in a way that it leads to creation of new product demands. The expansion model of development is a linear process and drawing resources from the planet to create products for people in order to gain profits. A Simple activity like gardening now requires fancy tools and expensive gears, the rate of innovation continues to accelerate and forces the users to become part of the process through regular upgrading of the process. In the industrial nations, most of the problems are due use of man-made things such as traffic congestions, parking issues, urban decay and crime. The well-being is measured in terms of Gross domestic product (GDP).



“In a system the most crucial determinant of systems behavior is its function. What if the function of a tree was not to survive and reproduce but to capture all the nutrients in the soil and grow to its unlimited size?” - Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows Richard Buchanan defines role of designer and its scope into four domains of design: 1.Design of symbolic and visual communications 2.Design of material objects 3.Design of activities and organized services 4.Design of complex systems or environments for living, working, playing and learning In order to solve such problems the designers will need to move from the second domain to the fourth domain of design where the designer is able to provide solutions which are integrating human beings into broader ecological and cultural environments. The Bruntland Report published in 1987 by the United Nations called “Our Common Future” talks about the Sustainable model of the world. In this the world is a system of checks and balances that consists of finite sources. If the elements are damaged the system will suffer severe damages and eventually collapse.




A sustainable model in contrast to the expansion model is cyclic where planet, people and profit are seen together in a closed loop, hence here there is no end, and it is an iterative process. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, a sustainable society is one that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (1987). Ezio Manzini in his ‘design issues’ article, 1994 talks about “the new radicalism” and suggests three consumption scenarios in order to maintain a sustainable model of development.

Courtesy -”“A Genuine Talk on Progress and the GPI.” Donella Meadows Institute. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

1.Designers need to design products for longevity. 2.Envision products in terms or leasing or sharing. 3.Engagement with fewer objects through decreased consumption.

STOCKS AND FLOWS - Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows A stock is an accumulation of material or information that has built up in a system over time. A Flow is a material or information that enters and leaves the stock over a period of time. • If the sum of the inflows exceeds the outflows, the stock rises. • If the sum of the outflows exceeds the inflows, the stock falls. • If the sum of the inflows equals the outflows or vice-versa, a stock will be held in dynamic equilibrium. We tend to focus more on stocks than flows, moreover we tend to focus more on inflows than the outflows. For example, you can prolong the life of an oil based company by discovering new oil deposits but we forget that the same result can be achieved by burning less oil.

Genuine progress indicator (GPI) Genuine progress indicator (GPI) is measure that supplements the gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of economic growth. The genuine progress indicator is designed to take account of the well-being of a nation by incorporating environmental and social factors which are not measured by GDP. It accounts the environmental and carbon footprints that businesses produce or eliminate. For example, GDP gains double the amount when pollution is created, since it increases once on its creation (as a side-effect of some valuable process) and again when the pollution is cleaned up, whereas GPI counts the initial pollution as a loss and it generally equals to the amount it will cost to clean up later also it adds the cost of any negative impact of pollution.


If you could know the truth about the threat of climate change — would you want to know? Before the Flood, presented by National Geographic, features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, traveling to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change. The movie offers a picture of climate change that’s both alarming and hopeful. It includes important information, suggestions, and warnings aimed to educate all. It shows what’s happening to the world we live in, what’s going to happen to the world we live in, and what we can do to prevent the worst possible outcome. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio meets with scientists, activists and world leaders to discuss the dangers of climate change and possible solutions.

Agenda 21 Agenda 21 is a 300 page document formulated at United Na`tions Conference on Environment and Development Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan with regard to sustainable development. The 21 refers to the 21st century. The objective is to social, economic and environmental policies to achieve to reduced consumption, social equity, and the preservation and restoration of biodiversity. “The realities of life on our planet dictate that continued economic development as we know it cannot be sustained. Sustainable development, therefore is a program of action for local and global economic reform – a program that has yet to be fully defined.” - The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide, published by ICLEI, 1996. Courtesy - “The United Nations Agenda 21.” One Easy Lesson. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016 “The Garden of Earthly Delight” by Bosch triptych On the right, the painting is a scene of Eden, on the left a depiction of Hell. In the middle a very involved scene with various people who are in the midst of life—perhaps living out the sins of the world.

Courtesy “File:The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch High ...” N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Sustainable development goals The Sustainable development goals of United Nations or the 2030 agenda for sustainable development is a set of seventeen global goals. Each goal is listed with several targets. These targets are basically resolutions that are to be achieved by 2030. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like us. The goals are not legally bind-


ing, governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals.] The 17 goals are:

Courtesy -”SDGs .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

1.End poverty in all its forms everywhere. 2.End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. 3.Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. 4.Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 5.Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 6.Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. lity and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. 7.Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. 8.Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. 9.Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries. 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and product patterns. 13. Make urgent action to combat climate change and its

impacts. 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Courtesy - “Sustainable Development Goals.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016 For a designer addressing the built environment few of the seventeen mentioned goals should be the objectives in their practice and profession. Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable Cities enable people to advance socially and economically, they are the centers for ideas, innovation, culture, social development etc. Hence a city faces several challenges in terms of its prosperity while not harming the land and resources. Common urban challenges include shortage of housing, non-adaptive infrastructure, traffic congestions, urban energy consumption and pollution.


Hence there is a need to build resiliently to avoid human, social and economic losses. All these issues will eventually affect every citizen. There can be many visions for this issue, for instance, there is a cost to creating a functional public transport network, but the benefits are huge in terms of economic activity, quality of life, the environment, and the overall success of a networked city. Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Courtesy - “The Doughnut.” Kate Raworth. N.p., 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

One in five people still lacks access to modern electricity. A 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. According to the United Nations, energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.Sustainable energy should be viewed as an opportunity, it transforms lives, economies and the planet. As an expert in the built environment it is important to be cautious about the targets of Goal 7 and try to incorporate clean and renewable energy in the designs.

The doughnut economics While UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals lays out targets which can help governments and businesses around the world orient themselves towards a more sustainable outlook, Kate Raworth, an economist talks about sustainable development exploring what she calls as The doughnut economics and comments on the challenges of 21st century. She explains that the environmental celling consists of nine planter boundaries beyond which the earths systems will start tipping and there will potential environmental degradation. On the other hand, the social foundations consists of eleven top social priorities discussed at the Rio Summit and below this social foundation the world starts tipping again and we face problems like hunger, ill-health and poverty. Between both the zones lies the safe space in which humanity can thrive. So the question is can we live within the doughnut? The doughnut brings social and environmental concerns together and sets a vision for an equitable and sustainable future.

Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to ensure that every person has the resources they need to meet their human rights, while collectively we live within the ecological means of this one planet. The ‘doughnut’ of planetary and social boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge.


DEEP ECOLOGY Deep ecology is an ecological and environmental philosophy and a movement started in the 1970’s by Norwegian philosopher, Arne Naess. It argues that the natural world is a subtle balance of complex inter-relationships in which the existence of organisms is dependent on the existence of others within ecosystems. The deep ecology platform 1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes. 2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves. 3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs. 4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening. 5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease. 6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present. 7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great. 8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes. —Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984) Courtesy - “The Deep Ecology Platform.” Foundation for Deep Ecology | The Deep Ecology Platform. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.


“If the will exist among the designers, it will surely be possible to reinvent design. If it doesn’t, designers will simply remain part of the problem whose solution other professions will need to invent.” - Victor Margolin (Design for a Sustainable World)




Sustainable everyday scenarios of urban life Ezio Manzini in his publication ‘sustainable everyday scenarios of urban life’ provides several case studies inspiring for architects or designers of the built environment. The concept of extended home looks at the physical and social context where the various functions of daily life are organized in private, semi-private and public spaces, in an open and flexible way. Due to the rapid increase in population, the demand for domestic space is growing fast resulting in huge consumption of environmental resources associated with the extension of equipped domestic space per person. The following example address these issues in a very efficient manner. SKY LAUNDRY – A cloth caring service, China, Changsha, Hunan University The sky laundry is a clothes washing center built on the roof of each building where clothes care functions of washing and drying are solar operated and there is a water recycling system to make use of rainwater. The most interesting part is that, the space is reserved for social gathering, where the residents can enjoy a relaxing chat during the long washing cycle.

Victor Papanek, an architect-designer wrote in his book “design for real world”, 1972 that design contributed to the deterioration of the environment introduced a new element into design, although he was unable to make impact at that time. Years earlier, engineer R.Buckminster Fuller with his out of the box thinking came up with innovative design with a comment on rethinking of design. He believed that designers should not settle for small victories that ultimately depend on willingness of the client but act as change agent to not provide solutions but to impact the thinking and mind-set of people. Hence designers have the power to shape a lifestyle and affect overall well-being of person.

“As an designer, as an architect, I think these are exactly the kind of question that we should be asking right now” Buckminister Fullers design of Geodesic domes, whose economy of material, durability, flexibility, and ease of construction was a great example out of the box thinking. The sphere is nature’s most efficient shape, when compared with a similar sized rectanglar-shaped house, the dome home has 30 percent less surface area, it’s stronger than a rectangular-shaped house, also less surface area means less heat is transferred to and from its surroundings, hence its energy efficient. Buckminster Fuller was an early environmental activist. He was aware of the Earth’s finite resources. Fuller was a pioneer in thinking globally, and he explored principles of energy and material efficiency in the fields of architecture, engineering and design. Fuller was concerned about sustainability and human survival under the existing socio-economic system

Courtesy - “The Buckminster Fuller Institute.” The Buckminster Fuller Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.


Kenji Ekuan, a Japanese product designer argues that “what design must do is the proposal of a new life image and a lifestyle that is compatible with environment in daily life, home life, global life and life in workplace”. For him solution is interdisciplinary and collaboration of all fields of design.

The triple bottom line approach The triple bottom line is the underlining theory of a sustainable design. It defines sustainable design as a socio, economic and environmental approach to design. Hence it addresses people, planet and profit, here profit is estimated in terms of prosperity. Just as Deep ecology states that organisms depend on other organisms to survive, the philosophy could also apply to the triple bottom line, the economic, ecological and sociological systems depend on each other to survive. The triple bottom line approach through its technical, perceptual and social innovations addresses the social, environmental and economic well-being. Often, adding the cultural pillar while designing brings about more effective solutions to design issues.The idea is to move from a “green design” which is an individual product based approach, lying in between the realms of environment and economy to a more

The growing public interest design field is fueled by a wide range of leaders such as, architects,funders,curators, communicators and connectors. “Together they are re-imagining the world.”

Courtesy - “Public Interest Design Leaders: Loeb Fellows Et Al.” LOEBlog. N.p., 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Public Architecture Public Architecture is a firm based in San Francisco, CA and the key founder of the contemporary social impact design movement. It provides the network and knowledge necessary to use the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain. They structure social and environmental problems in the built environment and enable solutions in conditions where both clients and financing are imagined in new ways. One of their work proposes a day labor station, it responds to the needs and desires of the day laborers who are seen as their actual clients rather than the collaborators of the project. The Station is a simple, flexible structure that can be deployed at these informal day labor locations. It is a self-sustaining project that utilizes green materials and strategies and exists primarily off the grid.

“transformative design” in which new scenarios are envisioned which addresses the social issues as well. Using the 3Ps as the foundation of a design, designers can formulate systems that not just provide solutions to the problems but the problems are held as opportunities to address the non-linear problems of the world.


There are many kinds of system troubles, some of them have commonalities, and they are defined as archetypes. The destruction they cause is blamed on particular actors/events, however it is often a consequence of a system structure. Donella Meadows refers these as traps and explains how traps can be escaped by strengthening feedback loops. When designers take the role of a change agent they start to address these traps with solutions that brings about behavioral changes hence guaranteeing the longevity of the solution.

“Structure defines behavior; once we see the relationship between structure and behavior, we can begin to understand how systems work, what makes them produce poor results, and how to shift them into better behavior patterns, is the shift in mindset necessary to carry out the broad-reaching systemic changes required to alter our fate� - Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows


SYSTEM TRAPS • Policy Resistance When various actors try to pull a system state toward various goals, the result can be policy resistance. Any new policy, especially if it’s effective, just pulls the system state farther from the goals, with a result that no one likes, but that everyone spends considerable effort in maintaining. For instance, the drug supply chain of a city which has various actors seeking different goals for their personal benefits. The Way Out: Aligning the energy spent on resistance to seek out mutually satisfactory ways for all goals to be realized or redefine important goals that everyone can pull toward together. For instance, a situation of a natural disaster where everyone is seen helping each other for the common goal.

The Way Out: The best way out of this trap is to avoid getting in it. If caught in an escalating system, one can refuse to compete or one can negotiate a new system with balancing loops to control the escalation. • Success to the Successful If the winners of a competition keep winning, they lower the chance for others to win hence success is restricted to certain people and eliminates growth of others. For instance, in India a prime minister candidate can have only two consecutive terms and cannot compete for elections more than two times. The Way Out: Strict limitation on the fraction of the pie any one winner may win (antitrust laws); policies that devise rewards for success that do not bias the next round of competition.

• The Tragedy of the Commons When there is a commonly shared resource is abused. If there is very weak feedback from the condition of the resource to the decisions of the resource users, the consequence is overuse of the resource, eroding it until it becomes unavailable to anyone. For instance overfishing due to competition The Way Out: Educate, so they understand the consequences of abusing the resource. And also restore or strengthen the missing feedback link, either by privatizing the resource so each user feels the direct consequences of its abuse or by regulating the access of all users to the resource.

• Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor Shifting the burden and dependence, by hiding the symptoms, but does nothing to solve the underlying problem. If the intervention designed to correct the problem causes the self-maintaining capacity of the original system to wear away, then a negative reinforcing feedback loop is set in the system. The system deteriorates and becomes more dependent on the intervention and less on its own ability to maintain. For instance the idea of old age homes. The Way Out: Take the focus off short-term relief and put it on long-term restructuring. If you are the intervenor, work in such a way as to restore or enhance the system’s own ability to solve its problems, then remove yourself

• Drift to Low Performance Letting performance standards to be influenced by past performance, especially if there is a negative bias in perceiving past performance, such a situations leads to system drifting toward low performance. For instance, continuously polluting the water bodies leads to situation where the polluted water body is compared to a lesser polluted one. The Way Out: Let standards be enhanced by the best actual performances instead of being discouraged by the worst. Set up a drift toward high performance

• Rule Beating Behavior that gives the appearance of obeying the rules or achieving the goals, but that actually distorts the system. For instance, Government departments spend their entire budgets because if they don’t, they will be allocated less next year. The Way Out: Design rules in the direction of beating the rules, but in the direction of achieving the purpose of the rules.

• Escalation: When the state of one stock is determined by trying to surpass the state of another stock and vice versa then there is a reinforcing feedback loop carrying the system into an escalation. The escalation is exponential growth and can lead to prodigality quickly. For instance, an inappropriate comment of one person for the other escalating to a major fight.

• Seeking the Wrong Goal System behavior is particularly sensitive to the goals of feedback loops. If the goals are defined inaccurately, the system may produce a result that is not really intended. For instance, measuring the growth of nation only in terms of GDP (gross domestic product). The Way Out: Specify indicators and goals that reflect the real welfare of the system. Be especially careful not to confuse effort with result.

Courtesy - “Forum For The Future.” Forum for the Future. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.


There are many organizations which try to institutionalize the concept of thinking in systems to seek sustainable development of the world such as Forum for the future. The forum works to create a sustainable future, they believe it’s critical to reimagine and transform the key systems we all use and rely on, and innovate for longterm success. The forum defines its six steps to significant change and acts a catalyst helping change a whole perspective of its clients (companies) so that the effect stays across the entire lifetime of the company. Jonathon Porritt, co-founder, Forum for the future in his book, ‘The World We Made’ illustrates how the world could look in 2050, if we play our cards right. Based on extensive factual research, Porritt describes a sustainable world that is prosperous, exciting and healthy. The World We Made takes concepts of sustainable development out of the theoretical, and makes them engaging and tangible Hence organizations such as the forum for future intervene in the system at specific point in a system which Donella Meadows defines as leverage points in order to increase the effectiveness in a system.

“A new information in feedback loop at a particular point in the system will make it behave much better. But the decision makers are resistant to the information they need! They don’t pay attention to it, they don’t believe it, and they don’t know how to interpret it.” - Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows Leverage points are the places at which we can have the greatest effect on systems. They descend in order of least to greatest impact. But the higher impact the leverage point has, the more the system will resist changing it. 12. Numbers: Constants and parameters such as subsidies, taxes, and standards 11. Buffers: The sizes of stabilizing stocks relative to their flows 10. Stock-and-Flow Structures: Physical systems and their nodes of intersection 9. Delays: The lengths of time relative to the rates of system changes

8. Balancing Feedback Loops: The strength of the feedbacks relative to the impacts they are trying to correct 7. Reinforcing Feedback Loops: The strength of the gain of driving loops 6. Information Flows: The structure of who does and does not have access to information 5. Rules: Incentives, punishments, constraints 4. Self-Organization: The power to add, change, or evolve system structure 3. Goals: The purpose of the system 2. Paradigms: The mind-set out of which the system— its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters—arises 1. Transcending Paradigms


“Zero waste is also talking about waste, we need to eliminate the idea of waste� - Michael Braungar, a chemist




Most of our systems of innovation are very linear. Today our understanding of nature has dramatically changed. The oceans, air and the flora-fauna are extremely vulnerable, however the businesses still operate according to the paradigms that developed when the world was very different. Most of our systems of innovation are very linear. A typical landfill of today would look like waste accumulated from paper, wood, food, old furniture, upholstery, computer parts, and other complex products. Most of these products are made of very valuable materials which need millions of dollars for its extraction and processing. Such kind of waste disposal system is termed as ‘Cradle to grave’ where the products end up in a landfill or incinerators. As a consumer, most of it is designed to throw away when the consumer is done using it.

Courtesy - ““William McDonough Partners.” N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

The attempt to impose universal solutions on a number of local conditions surely does work, however such standards target the lower most leverage point in a system. It generally does not change the behavioral patterns of the system.

The ‘greenhouse factory & offices, Michigan The Herman Miller, most popular producers of office furniture in USA, produce the ‘Mirra chair’ which is based on the cradle to cradle concept with 96 percent recyclable pieces which can be dis-assembled within a few minutes. The interesting part is the factory in which it is produced is also designed based on architect William Mcdonough cradle to cradle approach. The ‘greenhouse factory & offices’ located in Michigan has become a case study in how a sustainable approach can enhance the physical and mental health of its occupants. The components of day-lighting reducing the carbon footprint and greywater recycling into the adjacent wetlands makes a closed loop cycle producing very less or no waste.

Courtesy -parkjisun. emel chelik, pauel tipikin, Delwar Hossain The noun project


Cradle to cradle

Mirra parts - recyclable par ts, 96% by weight. It take less than 30 seconds for one person to disassemble the components.

Rather than seeing materials as a waste management problem, as in the cradle-to-grave system, cradle-to-cradle design is based on the closed-loop nutrient cycles of nature, in which there is no waste. The cradle-to-cradle design seeks, from the start, to create buildings, communities and systems that generate wholly positive effects on human and environmental health. Hence it is a regenerative design. The cradle to cradle design has two metabolisms namely, the biological cycle and the technical cycle Materials designed to flow optimally in the biological metabolism are biological nutrients. Products conceived as these nutrients, such as biodegradable packaging, are designed to be used and safely returned to the environment to nourish living systems. For instance, soaps and other nutrients can be designed as biological nutrients so that they wash down the drain, pass through a wetland and end up in a lake to support an ecosystem. The technical metabolism, designed as a closed-loop system in which valuable, high-tech synthetics and mineral resources flow in a continuous cycle of production, recovery, and remanufacture.

Courtesy - “Company by Company, Product by Product, The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute Is changing the Way We Make Things.” Home - Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

“waste equals food, from cradle-to-grave to cradle-to-cradle” – William McDonough & Michael Braungart This kind of closed loop systems can be adopted by designers to generate solutions that create an industrial re-evolution. The cradle to cradle certification has five categories • Material health - The product does not contain any Banned List chemicals above the relevant thresholds based on supplier declarations. • Material reutilization - Each generic material in the product is clearly defined as an intended part of a biological or technical cycle. • Renewable energy and carbon management - Annual purchased electricity and direct on-site emissions associated with the final manufacturing stage of the product are quantified. • Water stewardship - The manufacturer has not received a significant violation of their discharge permit within the last two years. •Social fairness - A basic self-audit is conducted to assess protection of fundamental human rights. Courtesy - “Basic V3_0 C2C Product Certification Requirements - Get Certified - Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.” Basic V3_0 C2C Product Certification Requirements - Get Certified - Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.


The Natural Step – First order principles The Natural Step is a non-profit, non-governmental organization propose the first order principles. They are as follows: 1. Substances from the Earth’s crust must not systematically increase in the biosphere. For instance, Materials such as lead and mercury can’t be allowed to accumulate in the environment. 2. Substances produced by society must not systematically increase in nature, such as CO2 3. The physical basis for the productivity and diversity of nature must not systematically deteriorate such as, farming practices that cause erosion. 4.There needs to be a fair and efficient use of resources with respect to meeting human needs. Every designer must keep in mind the First order principles of natural step while creating and innovating design solutions.

Mobius project, London Micheal Pawlyn, a British architect in his project the Mobius project, London, works with the theme of closed loop system the project has three main cycles: food production, energy generation and water treatment. The Project co-locates and integrates these processes in synergistic cycles. The methane derived from this process can be used to generate electricity and heat for the greenhouse. The restaurant, apart from being supplied with fruit, vegetables and fish from the greenhouse which cuts down on food miles, can operate at close to zero waste as food left-overs can be fed to fish or composted. Solids from waste water can be diverted to the anaerobic digesters while the remaining water can be treated for use as local drinking water or greywater for toilet flushing. Fertilizer from the various forms of waste handling can be used in the greenhouse and the significant surplus can help to remediate brownfield land on the outskirts of the city.

Courtesy - “Möbius Transforms.” Wolfram Demonstrations Project (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Courtesy - Thomson, Dave. “The Mobius Project - Exploration Architecture.” The Mobius Project - Exploration Architecture. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.


Biomimicry – Innovation inspired by nature 1. Does it run on sunlight? 2. Does it also use the energy it needs? 3. Does it fit form to function? 4. Does it recycle everything? 5. Does it reward cooperation? 6. Does it bank of diversity? 7. Does it utilize local expertise? 8. Does it tap power of limits? 9. Does it curb excess from within? 10. Is it beautiful?

The practice of biomimicry seeks to bring solutions that are conducive to life.

Hence, Biomimicry is learning from and then emulating nature’s forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs. For instance, Spider webs, represent nature’s ability to prevent collisions; Nature’s chemical recipes can help us design sustainable foams and plastics; the native ecosystems of Australia can show us how to build a factory that functions like a forest. Essential elements: The practice of biomimicry embodies three interconnected, essential elements together. The ethos element forms the essence of our ethics. It represents our responsibility for our fellow species and our home. The (re)connect element reinforces the understanding that people and nature are deeply intertwined. The emulate element brings the principles, patterns, strategies and functions found in nature to inform design. It is about being proactive in achieving the vision of humans fitting in sustainability on earth.

Courtesy -“The Biomimicry Institute – Inspiring Sustainable Innovation.” Biomimicry Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.

Biomimicry is taking inspiration from natural forms/ systems and understanding what lies behind those forms in order to translate it into design for human needs. It is an interdisciplinary approach that brings together two often disconnected worlds: nature and technology. The practice of biomimicry seeks to bring solutions that are conducive to life.


Courtesy -Thomson, Dave. “Exploration Architecture - Exploration Architecture.” Exploration Architecture - Exploration Architecture. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2016.

Everything in world works as a system. If one component of a system deteriorates, it affects the entire life cycle. As Donella Meadows explains her leverage point of Balancing feedback loops, they are ubiquitous in systems, nature evolves them and humans invent them as controls to keep important things within safe bounds. One of the big mistakes we make is to cut off the mechanisms for instance, encroaching on the habitats of endangered species. The nature has evolved over the billions of years to create the most sustainable balancing feedback loop between the different species and habitats within an ecosystem, human economic systems should strive to follow it as well.

The Biomimetic Office The Biomimetic Office Building is the latest project undertaken by Micheal Pawlyn and his Exploration Architecture team. The design, which uses biomimicry to rethink the workplace into a self-heated, self-cooled, self-ventilated, day-lit structure. Pawlyn found that complex forms that use minimal materials in exactly the right place such as bird skulls and cuttlefish bones is often the operating principle in Nature, and was incorporated into key structural components of the Biomimetic Office Building, the floor slabs and columns. The temperature control mechanisms such as identical shades, able to respond to changes in light the way plants such as the mimosa pudica Courtesy - Thomson, Dave. “The Biomimetic Office Building - Exploration Architecture.” The Biomimetic Office Building - Exploration Architecture. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.


“Any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value is wasted” – Taiichi Ohno





Womack and Jones define waste in their book Lean thinking as “mistakes which require rectification, production of items no one wants, movement of employees and transport of goods from one place to another without any purpose” . Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System refers these as “mudas”.

Circular economy

The lean thinking has four elements: the continuous flow of value, as defined by the customer, at the pull of the customer, in search of perfection. Lean thinking requires a totally new re-arrangement of the mental mudas.

A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative, which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles. Based on the concept of ‘waste equals food’ circular economy is the one where a company’s waste is used to fuel another business’s processes. It is a continuous development cycle that optimizes resource yields, and minimizes system risks by managing finite stocks and renewable resources.

In the concept of lean thinking nothing should be created until it is needed by the customer, it should be delivered when the customer wants it, and it should offer only what is valuable to the customer. The purpose is to have no delays, no buffer stocks hence no mudas.

Ellen MacArthur, a retired British sailor is the charity founder of the Ellen MacArthur foundation and explains that the circular economy rests on three principles, each addressing several of the resource and system challenges that industrial economies faces.

As stated by Donella Meadows, delays in feedback loops are critical determinants of systems thinking behavior. For instance, if we try to adjust the store inventory of the shop to meet our goals, but receive delayed information about the accurate requirements then we tend to overshoot or undershoot the goal.

Service and flow Parallel to the cradle to cradle approach of design, a Swiss analyst Walter Stahel and German chemist Micheal Braungart propose a new industrial economy which they term as service economy wherein the consumer leases the services rather than buying it. The goal is to sell performance rather than equipment. Because products would return to the manufacturer for continuous repair, reuse and remanufacturing, it forms the essence of cradle to cradle. In a service economy the product is a means, not the end. The manufacturers leasing of the product implies that the product remains as an asset. A service and flow model is a great stabilizer because customers will purchase flow of services which they require continuously. It also creates employment as waste is now to be reincorporated into the manufacturing cycles.

The Ellen MacArhtur Foundation states that it is inspired on various schools of thought such as Cradle to Cradle, Industrial Ecology, Blue Economy and Biomimicry. The diagram clearly distinguishes between two material cycles: the bio-based (green) and the technical (blue) sphere. Next to that it includes the principle of cascaded usage and the waste hierarchy. Courtesy -“Circular Economy - UK, USA, Europe, Asia & South America - The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.” Circular Economy - UK, USA, Europe, Asia & South America The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2016.

This will create mudas, not just of the products but also of the time, money and energy spent into it. A delay in a feedback process is critical to know and resolve. Mudas can be eliminated by various methods such as through simplification and scale. The scale of a manufacturing process should match the rate of pull by the customer. The process should be simplified through localization or open sourcing. Another solution is creating services instead of products.


1. Preserve and enhance natural capital - When resources are needed, the circular system selects them wisely and chooses technologies and processes that use renewable or better-performing resources, where possible. 2. Optimize resource yields - circulating products, components, and materials at the highest utility at all times in both technical and biological cycles. 3. Foster system effectiveness - reducing damage to human utility, such as food, mobility, shelter, education, health, and entertainment, land use, air, water and noise pollution, release of toxic substances, and climate change. Courtesy - “Circular Economy Principles.” Circular Economy Principles. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

“We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us.” – Wendell Berry An important concept to understand in circular economy is, some materials are recycled, but often as an endof-pipe solution, since these materials are not designed to be recycled. Instead of true recycling, this process is actually downcycling, a downgrade in material quality, which limits usability. The goal is not to minimize, but to generate cyclical, cradle-to-cradle metabolisms that enable materials to maintain their quality over time (upcycling).

Investing in natural capital When a manufacturer realized that his supplier is running behind schedule in terms of the deliverables, he cannot do much about it. Ironically living systems are suppliers for life of the planet hence they are never falling behind on their orders. Businesses must restore, sustain, and expand the planet’s ecosystems so that they can produce their vital services and biological resources even more abundantly. So far, the connection between natural systems and industries have largely been ignored, the Wall Street does not account for natural capital for economic prosperity.

Throughout the industrial revolution there was so much available (natural resources). However, in today’s world, for businesses to generate profits it is necessary for them into the concepts of lessening pollution, slow down resource depletion and degradation of biosphere by employing more people and investing in natural capitalism. Hence Natural capitalism can be viewed by sum of total ecological systems that support life


The Eden project biomes

A sustainable organization

The Eden project biomes designed by architect Micheal Pawlyn and his firm Exploration Architecture, seeks radical resource efficiency in the field of built environment. The structure of the greenhouse is inspired by the visionary architect Buckminster Fullers “geodesic domes”. It is made out of a material called the ETFE – a high performance polymer that is assembled in triple layer ‘pillows’ that are then inflated for structural rigidity. The ETFE pillows are made much larger than glass and were 1% of the weight (a factor 100 saving in embodied energy). This substantially reduced the amount of steel required and allowed more sunlight into the building. The weight of the superstructure for the Humid Tropics Biome is less than the weight of the air that it contains making the foundations light weight. Hence use of an efficient material such as this helped in obtaining more energy and profits compared to the ones invested in making the building. It delivered the same function (as the traditional glass of a typical greenhouse) but with a fraction of resource input.

When we look around us into our natural environment, we see continuous change and adaptation to feel inspired, yet somehow our businesses are unable to adapt that change. This is due to the dual nature of an organization, on one hand it is designed for making profitswith specific purpose while on the other hand it consists of communities of people who interact with one another to build relationships. These two aspects of an organization correspond to two different types of changes. It is common to hear that people in an organization resists change, actually they don’t resist change, they resist change being imposed on them.

Courtesy - Thomson, Dave. “The Eden Project Biomes - Exploration Architecture.” The Eden Project Biomes - Exploration Architecture. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Resource productivity “LESS IS MORE” Resource productivity means obtaining the same amount of utility or work from a product or process while using less material and energy. Radically increased resource productivity is the cornerstone of natural capitalism. Using resources more effectively has the following three advantages, firstly it slows resource depletion at one end of the value chain, next it lowers pollution at the other end, and finally provides a basis to increase worldwide employment with meaningful jobs. This can benefit business and society, which no longer has to pay for the chief causes of ecosystem and social disruption. Companies investing in the radical resource productivity are not only repaid over time by the saved resources but can reduce initial capital investments too.

It is common to hear that people in an organization resists change, actually they don’t resist change, they resist change being imposed on them. Understanding human organizations in terms of living systems i.e. complex non-linear networks will help in dealing with the complexities of today’s business world. Within an organization, there is a cluster of interconnected communities of practice. The more developed these networks are, the better will the organization able to learn, respond creatively and face changes. In order to maximize a company’s potential it is important for the managers to understand the interplay between the formal and informal structures of the organization. They should let the formal structures handle the routine work and reply on informal networks to help in tasks that go beyond the usual routine. The formal structures are often the designed structures in an organization whereas the informal ones are emergent structures. Designed structures provide stability whereas emergent structures induce creativity. They both are important to keep the organization’s vibrancy alive. For instance, providing informal spaces in an office such as dining spaces, balconies or coffee tables helps people interact. Philosopher Michael Polanyi talks about organizational learning in terms of explicit and tacit knowledge. He states that explicit knowledge is communicated and documented through language, whereas tacit knowledge is acquired through experience and is intangible. Hence it is important in an organization through social interactions of people transform the ones tacit knowledge into an explicit knowledge.


The natural step framework

The ABCD framework - IDEO

The question is how does a company design the future? The natural step provides a framework to integrate environmental issues in the business framework and help the company move towards a sustainable framework. It includes four core processes:

IDEO is an innovation and design firm that uses a human-centered, design-based approach to help organizations generate new offerings and build new capabilities. It talks about The ABCD framework of design it explains the difference between what they call the design pipeline v/s the design funnel.

Courtesy•“IDEO.” IDEO. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2016.

1. Perceiving the nature of unsustainable direction of business shifting to a sustainable direction. 2. Understanding the first order principles for sustainability. 3. Strategic visioning through “back casting” from a desired sustainable future 4. Identifying strategic steps to move the company from its current reality towards its desired vision.

In a design pipeline tasks are separated into stages and lack interaction among each other. The problem is that the limited feedback in a design pipeline impedes learning across stages because products are handed off from one group to another. Without ample feedforward and feedback communication, the design funnel lacks the learning infrastructure needed to identify sustainability related design risks and opportunities whereas The effectiveness of the design funnel is its ability to represent design as an ongoing aspect of production. Decisions made by a range of experts and functions are involved in making a final product. It reinforces the fact that Sustainable design is not just about making better products, but about developing the capacity of the organization to make better products.




For sustainability, at the beginning it is unclear what responsibilities should look like and how people should communicate and work together towards sustainability of the product due to its dynamic nature, this booklet answers the questions of why do we need to transition to a sustainable world and how do we achieve that. In every section it tries to explain how nature works as a regenerative system of networks and inspires designers to understand the importance of a sustainable system which can be adopted in the designs. It is important to create not just solutions but paradigm shifts in order to impact most effectively. The designers have the power and skill to change the mindset of human beings. The booklet gives ample examples and concepts which demonstrates these paradigm changes. However, designers should also stay flexible and not cling to a particular paradigm, is what Donella Meadows refers as Transcending paradigms, and always take a look at the spacious possibilities of solutions, which Is why sustainable design is often referred as an inter-disciplinary. In conclusion a systematic approach is often the key to success for most of the problem, but designers need to be prepared and open to the dynamic conversations for most effective solutions.

As Wendell berry quotes “We are in trouble just now because we are in-between stories”, I believe as a designer if we follow the concepts of sustainability we can define the “new story”.

Š Kanika Golani, Candidate for M.A Design for Sustainability SUST 704 - Fall 2016 SCAD

A sustainable system  
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