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e-Journal

 

Hidden Histories:
the Story of Sustainable Design

(Released June 2009)

 
  by Alison Knight  

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Glossary

Bhopal A leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas at the Union Carbide Pesticide Factory at Bhopal, India, caused one of the worst industrial disasters in history

Brundtland Report, our Common Future In1987 the world Commission on Environment and Development published Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report. The Report linked together social, economic, cultural and environmental issues and global solutions. It also popularized the term "sustainable development." (Bhamra, Tracy and Lofthouse, Vicky. 2007) See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Common_Future Accessed April 6th, 2009.

Chernobyl A Soviet nuclear reactor that suffered an explosion in 1986, spewing radiocativity over a large part of Eastern Europe.

Climate change Generally used when referring to changes in our climate that have been identified since the early 1900s. The changes we've seen over recent years and those which are predicted over the next 80 years are thought to be mainly as a result of human behaviour rather than due to natural changes in the atmosphere.

The term 'Greenhouse Effect' is commonly used to describe the increase in the Earth's average temperature that has been recorded over the past 100 years. The greenhouse effect is central when we talk about climate change as it relates to the gases which keep the Earth warm. It is the extra greenhouse gases that humans have released which are thought to pose the strongest threat.

Four main naturally occurring gases are responsible for the Greenhouse Effect; water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Once these gases absorb energy, the gas particles begin to vibrate and they radiate energy in all directions, including approximately 30% back towards Earth. Although most of the greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, some are man-made; the most well-known of these are the fluorocarbons. Since the industrial revolution, human activities have also resulted in an increase in natural greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. An increase in these gases in the atmosphere enhances the atmosphere's ability to trap heat, which leads to an increase in the average surface temperature of the Earth. BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/climate/evidence/global_change.shtml Accessed April 6th, 2009.

Design for sustainability Design that considers the environmental (for example resource used, end of life impact) and social impact of a product (for example usability, responsible use). (Bhamra, Tracy and Lofthouse, Vicky. 2007)

Eco-design A design process that considers the environmental impacts associated with a product throughout its entire life from acquisition of raw materials through production/ manufacturing and use to end of life. At the same time as reducing environmental impacts, ecodesign seeks to improve the aesthetic and functional aspects of the product with due considerations to social and ethical needs. Ecodesign is synonymous with the terms design for environment (DfE, often used by the engineering design profession) and lifecycle design (LCD) in North America. (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p.339)

Ecology (from Greek okos, "house"; -logos, study of) The interdisciplinary scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions with their environment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecology Accessed May 12th, 2009.

Ecosystem A natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. An ecosystem is a completely independent unit of interdependent organisms which share the same habitat. Ecosystems usually form a number of food webs which show the interdependence of the organisms within the ecosystem. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem (Accessed May 12th, 2009)

The Green Consumer Guide Julia Hailes co-wrote the original Green Consumer Guide with John Elkington in 1988; the book sold more than 1 million copies around the world. An updated version is available: http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/ Accessed April 6th, 2009.

Green design A design process which focuses on assessing and dealing with a product's individual environmental impacts rather than on the product's entire life. (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p.340)

Greenwashing A term used to describe the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwash Accessed April 6th, 2009.

Kyoto Protocol A protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3-14 June 1992. The treaty is intended to achieve "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol (Accessed April 6th, 2009.)

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) also known as "life cycle analysis," "ecobalance," and "cradle-to-grave analysis" The investigation and valuation of the environmental impacts of a given product or service caused or necessitated by its existence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_cycle_analysis Accessed May 12th, 2009.

Peak Oil The point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil Accessed May 12th, 2009.

Sustainable An adjective applied to diverse subjects including populations, cities, development, businesses, communities and habitats; it means that the subject can persist a long time into the future. (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p.341)

Sustainable Design Theories and practices for design that cultivate ecological, economic and cultural conditions that will support human well-being indefinitely. (Thorpe, Ann, 2007, The designer's atlas of sustainability. Washington DC: Island Press. p. 13.)

Sustainable development From the Brundtland Report, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The term contains within it two key concepts: the concept of "needs," in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs. (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p.341)

Sustainable Product Design (SPD) A design philosophy and practice in which products contribute to social and economic well-being, have negligible impacts on the environment and can be produced from a sustainable resource base. It embodies the practice of eco-design, with due attention to environmental, ethical and social factors, but also includes economic considerations and assessments of resource availability in relation to sustainable production. (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p.341)

Sustainability Considered to be more of a direction than a destination that we will actually reach. (Bhamra, Tracy and Lofthouse, Vicky)

Whole Earth Catalog An American counterculture catalog that granted "Access to Tools," published by Stewart Brand between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. Apple Inc. founder and entrepreneur Steve Jobs has described the Catalog as the conceptual forerunner of the World Wide Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Earth_Catalog Accessed April 6th, 2009.