This is an approach in design to reduce the impact on the environment.
It focuses on one or two areas such as conserving materials through using recycled materials in the manufacture of of a product or by conserving energy in the use of the product. For Example, the Dyson contra-rotating washing machine uses a water jet system to reduce the amount of water used and the agitation ( the act of agiating something; causing to move around - usually vigorously) caused by the two tubs turning in oposite directions reduces the time taken to wash the clothes, thus saving energy.
This is an approach to design that goes further than green design. In this approach, designers and manufacturers will try to reduce the impact of a product through its entire lifecycle from raw materials extraction to final disposal. For example, a company developing new washing machines might take the following areas into consideration:
- selection of low impact materials
- reduction in materils useage (both in manufacture and packaging)
- reduction of impact during use and optimisation of initial lifetime
- optimisation of end-of-life systems (for recycling and recovery of materials and components)
In this approach, the main function of a product is analysed and a more environmentally sound methods of performing the same function is sought. In addition to lessening the effect on the environment, sustainable design often has wider socio-economic benefits such as improved welfare and saftey for workers producing the product, fair trade schemes and so on. For example, instead of using tumble dryers to dry clothes, it may be possible in some homes to use an alternastive such as a cabinet that is heated by solar energy.
This is a radical approach that goes beyond sustainable design to look for new ways of doing things using a mix of products and services. For example, instead of each home having a washing machine to clean clothes, a community based laundry service could collect your washing at the same time as your recycling and waste (usinf biodeisel powered vehicles), then clean your clothes using efficient washing machines powered by alternative energy systems such as solar, wind or micro CHP (Combines Heat and Power). Your clean clothes could then be returned with your weekly grocery shopping.