How Product Design Today Can Make the World More Sustainable Tomorrow

The issue of sustainability has become part of discussions in the production industry. Our social well-being, as well as our environment, depends on the sustainable development of products. Many households these days use electricity to power appliances such as irons and electric kettles. Some of these products aren’t energy efficient. A large percentage of the world wastes electrical energy that can otherwise be used to light up street lamps.

So, what’s sustainability? We can define sustainability as a design approach that focuses on social, environmental and financial elements. The aim of this approach is to come up with practical solutions that are eco-friendly. Some of the ways to achieve sustainability in product design include proper management of waste and making use of natural resources. All this can be done through reducing over-consumption, embracing diversity, reusing, recycling and minimizing the carbon footprint.

In today’s business world, almost everything revolves around technology. The digital items we use affect our environment. There are several apps used for activities such as shopping, printing, sharing documents, food, transportation, travel and much more. Companies should be more conscious when developing products that influence the daily habits of consumers. They need to consider the impact of their goods on the environment. Many businesses have already embraced the idea of creating sustainable products. Studies show that these kinds of products improve sales and the consumer experience.

For a more sustainable tomorrow, designers should consider different factors. Their solutions must be in line with the requirements of sustainability. The usability and functionality of products can help conserve the environment. Companies need to offer products that consume less energy and last longer. When you have a durable item, you won’t need to buy new ones after every few months. This will help in reducing the amount of non-degradable waste.

Avoiding the usage of plastics in product design is important. Many eco-friendly materials can be used to create sustainable products are readily available. Food delivery services, for instance, should avoid including plastic cutlery in their deliveries. This way, consumers will get used to the idea of using their silverware. Plastic cutlery is not only bad for the environment, but it can affect the health of consumers. All types of businesses need to educate their customers on the importance of sustainability. The best way to do this is through the production of eco-friendly items.

Product designers have to take into account the type of energy they use in production. They should avoid any form of energy that emits greenhouse gases such as chlorofluorocarbon and carbon dioxide. Some of the “green” energy solutions include wind farms and solar panels. Manufacturers of electronics should include energy-efficient features in their products. For instance, they can include solar panels as an alternative to battery power or electricity. Besides, manufacturers need to encourage their consumers to go green.

The best way to ensure we have a healthy environment in future is to start making sustainable products today. Product designers have a responsibility to help the world secure a sustainable tomorrow. Every business should work towards keeping the environment clean.

Roundup: What green/sustainable idea or technology most excites you?

We asked what green/sustainable technology most excited you and why. Here’s what you had to say.

I love having smartphone apps handy to learn more about the ingredients in my food or skin care products. Making this kind of information easy to access can help consumers to make better choices for their health and the environment. My favorite apps right now are Healthy Living by EWG, Fooducate, ClimateCounts, and GoodGuide. Mary Helen Leonard  @marymakesgood

Solar panels, for I think obvious reasons, and that Honey Nut Cheerios is supporting an initiative to give wildflower seed packets out to everyone to help bring back the bees! Melanie Odette @Smellyann

Harnessing solar energy to power your home really excites me. It’s an opportunity to create really clean energy and to have the peace of mind that in the event of an emergency you could still provide power to your home.  Candice @FCMammas

I really like the idea of solar panels. I love the fact that they are better for the earth and lower bills every month. Tabitha Willette  @tabbyspantry

Photovoltaic panels – we have the tallest house on our street. It is an amazing option for us. Athena Nagel  @stuffofsuccess

Solar Bargnhtress @Bargnhtr

 

The Passivhaus Movement Comes to Australia

The Passivhaus is a German concept design for structures based on passive solar research done by the U.S. Department of Energy in the 1970s. Translated from German, the name literally means a “passive house,” and these structures are built with most rigorous design stipulations in an effort to be spend as little energy as possible when running a building.

The idea behind the passive house should be a starting point for the plans of all buildings, because it begins with a standard of energy-efficiency at its core. Passive houses aim to come as close to zero energy as possible, and though its success depends on many factors, the ambition of efficiency for the sake of environmental care is good for everyone.

Qualities of a Passivhaus

For a home or building to be a passive house, it must meet certain criteria. The guideline for these criteria are on a spreadsheet called the PHPP, Passive House Planning Package. A few of the qualifications that make a house passive are:

  • Superinsulation
  • No thermal bridges
  • Airtight
  • Heat-Recovery Ventilation, or HRV
  • Optimal passive solar design
  • High-performance doors and double glazed windows
  • Leverages internal heat gain

Image Source: By Passivhaus_section_en.jpg: Passivhaus Institutderivative work: Michka B (talk) – Passivhaus_section_en.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9586761

When a home is built with an efficient passive design, it can reduce the thermal load of a structure by 90 percent. In such homes, comfort is provided from a few sources:

  • Passive solar heat
  • Heat waste from electrical tools and appliances
  • People’s indoor activities

The level of detail is exacting and would intimidate most Australian designers, builders and engineers. However, those working with the NatHERS system won’t be surprised by these prescriptive standards.

The Viability of the Passivhaus in Australia

The obstacles to passive houses in Australia involve airtightness, which has been a major difficulty for some of the nation’s contractors. There is some misconception that passive houses are like hermetically sealed boxes — the antithesis of the Australian lifestyle. In truth, Passivhaus provides an energy-efficient solution that allows for a comfortable indoor temperature.

The HRV systems take dirty air that’s exhausted from the structure and recirculates 100% fresh, filtered air so that, even in the heat of Australia, passive houses offer a sustainable and affordable solution to temperature fluctuations. The resistance to Passivhaus in Australia has been in part due to a fear that windows would forever be shut, but that isn’t accurate.

Experts who have experience in the design of passive houses suggest that when these structures are designed according to those exacting specifications, the opening and closing of windows is actually beneficial to the overall performance of the building.

ACM Group Discusses Environmental Protection

ACM Group is an organization whose priority to educate people about what they can do to conserve natural resources. They want to be able to help keep the Australian flora and the fauna around for the next generation to enjoy. This group is looking to have people learn about the environment so that generation to come can enjoy the natural landscape of Australia. They want to make sure that the next generation can go to the beach and swim in clean what that is pollution free.

The Great Barrier Reef is a popular attraction in Australia and everyday it is being damaged by pollution. The ACM Group wants people to understand the importance of keeping the water clean before it is too late for the reef and the marine life that lives in it. If the reefs die not only will this hurt the environment but it will hurt tourism as well.

The Adani coal mine would cause damage and pollution to the waters. The ACM Group wants to stress to people how dangerous this is and that nothing good can come with the mine. They are working hard to spread awareness of the dangers of this mine and the harm that it can do to the environment and the people of Australia.

ACM Group on the Impact of Climate Change on Ocean Life

Climate change is having an impact on all life in the oceans. This is because it is affecting all levels of the food chain. When the simple organisms that others feed on become ill or die off, the ripple effect can be devastating.

Coral bleaching is one example of this. The bleaching signals that necessary symbiotic organisms have been shed, and the coral will die. Plankton, too, are affected. If fewer phytoplankton are producing oxygen, the future of all life on Earth may be in jeopardy.

For saltwater reef fish such as the angelfish, climate change is already having an impact. These species are being found much farther north than they used to be. As rabbitfish and other herbivorous fish migrate away from the environments they are accustomed to, they are wreaking havoc on kelp forests farther north. They disrupt the lush plant life protecting animals such as abalone. As abalone have become more vulnerable, their numbers are dwindling.

The future, however, may well be bright. Organizations such as ACM Group (Australian Conservation Monitoring Group) exist to hold accountable the social, ethical and environmental activities of business operating in our country as well as local and federal government and their policies in Australia.  Plenty of innovative solutions designed to forge partnerships with private businesses are being formulated. For lovers of fish and the ocean, this issue is one to watch.

Shaun Barratt on Why Solar Power Continues to Be Best Option for Future Energy Needs

The notion that solar power represents what is likely the best option for addressing the world’s energy needs well into the future should really come as no surprise. Shaun Barratt recently spoke to some colleagues in the green energy industry to discuss while there are countless reasons for solar energy’s status as the most efficient option for the world’s long-term energy demands, it is somewhat surprising that, according to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the solar industry likely possesses the capability for terawatt-scale energy output by the year 2050 — even in the absence of any major advancements in the available technology.

 

That such an output is considered likely in the relatively near future is impressive, and that sort of output should certainly draw the attention of world leaders who have thus far dragged their feet in emphasizing this technology or taking steps to lay the foundation for the large-scale implementation of solar power. Considering the fact that the terawatt-scale output is predicted without accounting for any emerging technologies, it is certainly not a stretch to believe that this output could achieved much sooner or could be potentially greater than the MIT study projects.

 

In fact, there are emerging innovations that may indeed play a role in the development of this sort of output, as there are a number of thin-film technologies that already utilize sustainable production materials. According to the same MIT study that predicts the terawatt-scale output, these thin-film technologies could benefit significantly from support at the federal level through the allocation of financial resources that would further any necessary research and development.

 

While even the most ardent climate-change deniers are starting to come around, it is still necessary for a great deal of work to be done in moving energy away from non-renewable sources to sustainable energy options, including, perhaps most notably, solar power. Federal investment into these projects is a must, as the MIT study notes that “massive expansion of solar generation worldwide by mid-century is likely a necessary component of any serious strategy to mitigate climate change.”

 

With the costs of harnessing solar energy coming down significantly over the years — along with solar energy’s status as a widely available resource — it is now simply a matter of continuing to promote the use of solar power as a viable source of energy. It is in the best interest of the federal government to continue to adopt policies that promote the widespread use of solar power in order to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources, as the MIT study has made it clear that the widespread implementation of solar energy must take place on a significant scale over the next few decades.

Darren Pawski Expounds on Latest Green Energy Investment Data

Judging solely by the recent headlines regarding the current state of green energy investment, one might jump to the conclusion that the recently agreed upon Paris Climate Accord did not have the intended effect. This would be a relatively reasonable assumption since it is a simple fact of the matter that green energy investing has declined considerably when compared to this time just one year ago. Darren Pawski is known for clarifying data relating to all manner of investments, which is why he offered his insight regarding the practical implications associated with the most recently released green energy investment data.

According to Pawski, there are many reasons for the decline in investments and those reasons actually represent progress in terms of the global implementation and usage of green energy technologies. The finance and investment expert first pointed out that a large reason for the decline in green energy investing is the fact that the cost of implementation has decreased so sharply in such a short period of time. As more consumers continue to invest in these technologies, the costs will decrease precipitously before eventually stabilizing. It is essential to understand that this data only means that spending on green energy has decreased, which does not necessarily correlate with a decline in interest or viability.

Other observers have correctly noted that the previous year’s level of investment in green energy technology was truly historic and would be difficult to match under any circumstance. Based on the investment data from 2013 and 2014, the rate of spending in 2015 increased by 11 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Even so, policy measures and systems of support have to be in place to ensure that any spending decline is nothing more than an aberration instead of the beginning of a downward trend.

Dymphna Boholt on Promoting Sustainable Real Estate Properties for Improved Health and Wellness

The value of sustainable real estate property has risen steadily over the past decade as homebuyers are becoming increasingly willing to pay a premium for homes outfitted with green energy technologies and constructed according to sustainable building principles. According to Dymphna Boholt, promoting the potential health and wellness benefits associated with green building practices would significantly increase the appeal of sustainable real estate.

As Boholt sees it, the current popularity of sustainable real estate property is mostly the result of a promotional focus on the savings generated through building performance. While there are certainly many potential homebuyers who are interested in the long-term savings associated with sustainable building and green energy practices, the power of the argument is not necessarily enough to sway every homebuyer to select from sustainably built homes and sustainably built homes only.

This is why the health and wellness benefits of sustainable real estate properties must be emphasized to a greater degree. There is simply not enough public awareness of the substantial health benefits associated with living or working in a building that has been designed sustainably and features the latest in green energy technologies. Homebuyers should be aware that the energy savings of a sustainable home are complemented by a significant reduction in health care costs and an increase in overall productivity and happiness.

Through the promotion of the many beneficial aspects of living in a sustainably designed home, potential homebuyers are much more likely to be convinced of the tremendous and extensive value of sustainable living principles. Most homebuyers are aware of the potential savings associated with reduced energy needs, but they are more likely to be swayed by the combination of personal benefits and environmental benefits associated with a sustainable real estate property outfitted with green energy technologies.

Andrew Charlton Discusses the Economics of Solar Energy and Other Renewable Resources

The slow shift away from the widespread use of non-renewable energy resources is largely the product of the continued resistance of those who either have some sort of economic or other personal interest at stake or perhaps have nothing more than a general aversion to rapid change. Andrew Charlton points out that those who remain opposed to the implementation of clean energy resources such as solar or wind have moved away from their original argument that the science on climate change and human involvement had not yet been resolved. Instead, according to Charlton, the opposition’s argument is now centered on the economic feasibility of such rapid and widespread change.

Perhaps this is why a group of scientists and economists has created the Global Apollo Program. In order to combat the economic argument in opposition to the shift to solar power — as well as other green energy resources — the Global Apollo Program has adopted a stated goal of making solar energy cheaper than the new coal-burning plants that have been offered as an alternative. In fact, a number of politicians in the United States have taken to referring to coal as a viable green energy option while noting it is also one of the most cost-efficient options available.

The Global Apollo Program hopes to accomplish its goal within a decade and will rely on funding from countries all over the world. Countries committing to the project are asked to contribute a relatively meager sum of .02 percent of GDP for an initial sum of $15 billion. Considering the global investment of public funds into renewable energy research checks in at just $6 billion, it is clear that countries all over the globe have to approach this pressing issue with a much greater sense of urgency.

How Dr. Raouf Farag Defines Sustainability

Dr Raouf Farag sustainabilitySustainability is a term every now and again utilized by our pioneers yet is regularly not addressed or characterized. The root word support infers that it implies making something last. Notwithstanding, what does it truly mean to support something and would could it be that we are looking at maintaining – nature, our surroundings, our reality. These are all extremely theoretical terms themselves. Around the time the term supportability emerged, researchers had found a progression of dangers to our surroundings and saw these as a noteworthy issue to the perseverance of human populace.

Way of life Sustainability and the Environment In an immaculate biological system everything gives and takes similarly, and the cycle of life is supported ceaselessly. Our present way of life is not earth practical. We devour increasingly of the world’s assets and give practically nothing, assuming any, consequently. Dr. Raouf Farag characterizes way of life manageability as being improvement that “tries to address the issues and yearnings of the present without bargaining the capacity to meet those without bounds.”