Understanding the environmental impact of their work is essential for designers practicing today. Sustainability is no longer considered a nicety in environmental and experiential graphic design projects; it is a part of the DNA of any endeavor that adds to the built environment and therefore impacts the livability and health of our planet.
Practicing sustainability is an ethos rather than a specific requirement in most projects. Designers who have embraced sustainability see it as an important part of their personal lives as well as their work. While the commonly use certification systems for sustainable design and construction (LEED, Living Building Challenge, etc.) do not specifically address signage, graphics, and other visual communications, many designers embrace the spirit of those systems in their projects.
Designers who embrace the concept of sustainability find that it becomes a very powerful driver of the innovation process. Listening to Designers such as Yves Behar of fuseproject talk about where sustainability is going reveals the fascinating insight that today it is simply expected that designers will address issues of sustainability as an important driver of their design solutions, but that often the result is not sold on the benefits of sustainability at all, but rather on their superiority as solutions that happen to be sustainable. This seems like a much better way to achieve the result of sustainability than specifically trying to create a sustainability value as was the way of working 5-10 years ago. Think of solutions like the Tesla Model S when looking for sustainable directions in EGD/XGD
Many design firms have actively integrated sustainable practices and principles into their design processes, addressing:
- Use of sustainable materials
- Use of environmentally friendly manufacturing processes
- Air quality and environmental impact
- Waste management and disposability
- Energy and lighting efficiency
- Modularity and waste reduction
- Longevity, flexibility, and adaptability
At minimum, these factors provide a lens through which to view any environmental or experiential graphic design project and make “greener” choices. In 2007, SEGD published its SEGD Green Resource Guide, which includes a sustainability audit process.
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