What is the Problem – Sustainability beyond light globes and water buckets?

DS 62: Proceedings of E&PDE 2010, the 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education - When Design Education and Design Research meet ..., Trondheim, Norway, 02.-03.09.2010

Year: 2010
Editor: Boks W; Ion, W; McMahon, C and Parkinson B
Author: Clune, Stephen John
Page(s): 334-339


This paper presents a methodology in an attempt to address the lacuna between the scale of unsustainability described in the literature – and the initiatives employed by designers and the general
public to reduce their ecological impact. For example, ‘if every Australian household switched to renewable energy and stopped driving their cars tomorrow, total household emissions would decline
by only about 18%’ [1, p. 291] - How can design identify and engage in the remaining 82% of emissions? The methodology was developed for an ongoing industry project to reduce the ecological impact of aged care delivery. The methodology makes connections between the objective approach of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in identifying the source of greatest impact, and creative problem solving by designers to reduce the impact within a service industry. The methodology is completed in three phases. I: holistic streamlined LCA to identify where the source of greatest impact is, II: participatory design ideation workshops to identify and develop potential solutions, and Finally III: sustainability action plan, to identify immediate solutions for implementation and a longer term strategy to significantly reduce resources and emissions. At the time of publication phase I has been completed – This methodology addresses the conference’s themes by connecting the disciplines of engineering (LCA) and product design. Aspects of the methodology are unique as they originated as tools for design education, and have developed into tools for industry applications.

Keywords: Life cycle assessment, participatory design, design for sustainability, environment


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