Green design (also referred to as "sustainable design", "eco-design", or "design for environment") is the catch-all term for a growing trend within the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, industrial design and interior design. The essential aim is to produce places, products and services in a way that reduces use of non-renewable resources, minimizes environmental impact, and relates people with the natural environment. Green design is often viewed as a necessary tool for achieving sustainability. It is related to the more heavy-industry-focused fields of industrial ecology and green chemistry, sharing tools such as life cycle assessment and life cycle energy analysis to judge the environmental impact or "greenness" of various design choices.
Green design is a reaction to the global "environmental crisis", i.e., rapid growth of economic activity and human population, depletion of natural resources, damage to ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. Proponents of green design believe that the crisis is in large part caused by conventional design and industrial practices, which disregard the risks and environmental impacts associated with goods and services. Green design is considered a means of reducing or eliminating these impacts while maintaining quality of life by using careful assessment and clever design to substitute less harmful products and processes for conventional ones. The motivation for green design was articulated famously in E. F. Schumacher's 1973 book Small is Beautiful.
Principles of Green Design
While the practical application varies among disciplines, some common prinicples are as follows:
- Low-impact materials: choose non-toxic, sustainably-produced or recycled materials which require little energy to process
- Energy efficiency: use manufacturing processes and produce products which require less energy
- Quality and durability: longer-lasting and better-functing products will have to be replaced less frequently, reducing the impacts of producing replacements
- Design for reuse and recycling: "Products, processes, and systems should be designed
for performance in a commercial 'afterlife'."
- Biomimicry: "redesigning industrial systems on biological lines ... enabling the constant reuse of materials in continuous closed cycles..."
- Service substitution: shifting the mode of consumption from personal ownership of products to provision of services which provide similar functions, e.g. from a private automobile to a carsharing service. Such a system promotes minimal resource use per unit of consumption (e.g., per trip driven).
- Standardization and modularity: standard, modular parts allow products to be repaired rather than replaced and promote interoperability so that systems can be upgraded incrementally rather than wholly scrapped and replaced.