From Richard Poynton...
I'm Richard Poynton of Profit & Planet in Weybridge, Surrey. I'm an industrial biologist and Chartered Environmentalist, working in food and consumer goods.
My interest is in ways of redesigning our provision of food and consumer goods and services, to meet the needs of "developed" world consumers, within the capabilities of our one planet's resources and regenerative systems. For me this means redesigning our underlying systems of customer value provision, not just the products and services.
Yesterday's seminar Futureproofing Business, Sustainability & Success, was very interesting. Robin Murray invited me to set out briefly on the "blog", the points which I made orally from the floor, which I do as follows:
Smart City Radio interview
Listen to Jennie Winhall, RED Design Strategist, interviewed on Smart City Radio
Ezio Manzini on Design & Sustainability
Ezio Manzini will be speaking next Tuesday 27 September at the Design Council as part of the London Design Festival. The event is now fully subscribed but for those of you who missed out or who are interested I have linked here to a paper that Ezio has forwarded in advance of the event as background to his thinking around design and sustainability.
Download file Enabling solutions, social innovation and design for sustainability
Ezio Manzini, DIS-Indaco, Politecnico di Milano, 27.9. 2005
222B Lee High Road
For those of you who check our blog regularly you will know that the RED unit has been working for the last 8 weeks on a domestic energy project in a house in Lewisham. The aim of the project has been to identify opportunities for new services to reduce the CO2 emissions from London's domestic sector, focussing particularly on able-to-pay owner occupiers.
We are now at a stage where we have developed a number of scenarios for changing energy consumption and production behaviour and we would like to share the work with home owners and energy consumers and hear some feedback.
On 29 September we will be hosting a very informal information sharing session at the house at 222B Lee High Road. If you are interested in the work and would like to join us please email Jude who will be able to give further details on timing etc.
Energy project design briefs
The RED team, not for the first time, have discovered that the topic we've chosen is much richer than we're able to mine in the time that we have available. However, this time, for our Energy Project, we have decided to capture some of the most promising threads of our exploration - the ones that we haven't got round to following up - as outline briefs, which we are posting here on the blog.
The briefs published include; Sensor Based Home Energy "Dashboard" System; Ambient "Heartbeat" Energy Display; Green Modular Roof; Decorative Insulating Wall Coverings and Draught Exclusion.
These are downloadable pdf files (about 70k each) - and are free for anyone to respond to or use, as you wish. If you do find a use for any of them - please drop us a line telling what you did...
For those of you who have read our manifesto you'll see that we had planned to do a project on housing last year. The project got put on the backburner for a number of reasons but reading the inaugural issue of itch (Beyond Green's journal of sustainable developments) I did think again of the huge potential for change in the way we design and create environments for ourselves to live in. Relating more specifically to urban developments, itch includes an article on urban designer Paul Murrain's view on the need for strong design leadership and collaboration with local people to give opportunity for conscious choices about our urban environments. He argues for the need to separate 'the democracy of the product and the democracy of the process'in urban design - 'The urbanism in Paris is unbelievably democratic in what it allows and actively encourages to happen. Yet it was built with remarkable despotic intervention at great speed. By contrast, if you visit any UK planning authority, the people have a great social conscience and strongly believe in democracy, and yet they've built some of the most undemocratic environments in the last 60 years.' He goes on to say 'the essence of urbanism is the extent to which both planned and incidental interaction are facilitated by it's design'. Urbanism and environmentalism are not as much at odds as many believe with urban systems like natural ecologies relying heavily on the health and sustainability of their component interactions. Anyone looking to read the article see the Beyond Green website for a copy of itch. Moreover feel free to comment on the need for new thinking in this or other areas - particulatly where you see that design might offer major potential for change.
Home Energy Audits and Services
For those with the know-how and persistence, optimizing your home's energy efficiency can be a fun challenge. But not every knows enough about energy efficiency, appliances, and insulation to make informed decisions. That's where home energy audits step in to provide assistance.
Green Matters in Spokane, Washington, offers Green Living Consulting, a service which consults with homeowners to improve their overall lifestyles, not just energy efficiency. Consultations are done in person at the house, or can be done over the phone. Various areas of the client's home are reviewed for suggestions to improve energy and water use, waste management, and transportation decisions.
Another service called Home Energy Tune-Up looks specifically at the energy-related parts of the house, recommending specific improvements to reduce your energy usage. Negawatt Resources in New Zealand performs Energy Audits, looking at issues such as thermal space and ventilation in addition to energy efficiency. All of these services charge clients for their work.
By comparison, New York State's NYSERDA runs a program called New York Energy $mart, which provides qualified households with a free inspection and evaluation of their home, and connects them with funding sources so that they can afford to make the suggested improvements.
Hot Water and CO2
Hot water going down your drain is probably not the first thing you think of when talking about conserving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. However, several hundred billion KwH of energy is literally dumped down the drain annually in the United States in the form of hot water. What this effectively means is that a lot of energy is used to heat water which we use for relatively brief periods of time - washing our hands, washing the dishes, or taking a shower in the morning.
Heat recovery systems are typically found in commercial and industrial settings, but residential systems also exist. The GFX grey-water heat recovery system extracts heat from drain water through a heat exchanger that interfaces with existing plumbing in a home. This reclaimed heat is applied to incoming cold water before it enters the water heater, reducing the load on the water heater, saving energy, and indirectly reducing CO2 emissions.
Energy Monitoring and Metering
Several different gadgets are currently on the market which allow you to get a better sense of how much energy particular devices are using. AC Cost Control, Watts Up?, and Kill-A-Watt are just a few examples. While they are useful for looking at per-appliance energy usage, other solutions provide more robust whole-house monitoring and metering, ranging from DIY to more consumer-friendly packages.
If you are handy with electronics, you can build your own monitoring and metering devices out of electronic parts on order from catalogue companies. Using this technique, some people have used light sensors and lasers to read their electric meters. An even more sophisticated setup combines monitoring and metering with home automation, with the results publicly available on the Internet: at a glance you can see energy, water, gas, and phone usage.
More consumer-friendly systems offer less customization, but still enable tracking of usage patterns and can project future energy bills. The Energy Detective and the EUM-200 both show energy used and aggregate cost, while the Model 20-CTR from Brand Electronics appears to interface with the ONE Meter and a network connection to show energy usage and cost information on your computer.
RED vacancy - Co-ordinator
We're still on the hunt for a Co-ordinator to join the RED team. Full details are available via the Design Council website. The role is a support role to assist our Project Manager and design team in making sure our projects happen. It is a primarily administrative but highly varied role with the focus shifting as we move from project to project. We're ideally looking for somewone with an interest in design and flexible and positive attitude. Contact Annette Johnson in HR for more information or to apply.
THE BEST DESIGNS NEVER SEEN
A Mintat G3 transportable petrol station (by Marcello Minale) has never made it beyond concept. This is just one example of numerous brilliant designs that, for a variety of reasons, have never seen the light of day.
The Best Designs Never Seen forms part of the Best Never Seen - an initiative dedicated to identifying and paying tribute to great creativity that has never seen the light of day. And the search is now on.....
Social Design Notes
Having a browse around today and I discovered the Social Design Notes blog with a nice range of stuff on energy in particular an article from Turning Down the Global Thermostat by Christopher Hawthorne in the October 2003 issue of Metropolis (and in fact a nice range of stuff on a whole host of other stuff as well!) Social Design Notes is a web log of notes and clippings on design and the public interest. For anyone who hasn't already seen it have a squizz.
Democracy Design Workshop
The Democracy Design Workshop is a project of the Institute for Information Law and Policy, New York Law School. Couched as a "do tank" rather than a think tank they are expressly concerned with developing a toolkit of "best practices" for the activities of democracy.
Currently, the Workshop conducts empirical and theoretical research on technologically-enabled democratic processes. But eventually the primary activity of the Workshop will be full-scale design projects. In a given design project, a team of interdisciplinary thinkers from technology to law to business to philosophy, will oversee the development of real tools and the design of related processes that can be made available to government entities at every level, as well as to NGOs, communities and corporations. They will also provide support, listen to and learn from citizens and communities to improve on their work.
RED events @ LDF - reminder
Final reminder for anyone interested in coming along to hear about our health project - RED hosts Futureproofing Public Services: NHS = New Health Service this Friday 16th September here at the Design Council. Ezio Manzini will also be joining us on the 27th September for Futureproofing Business: Sustainability & Success. For more information and to register see the design council website .
Smart designs hit home with consumer
An article in yesterday's FT (see extended entry) says manufacturers of home appliances are now more switched on to cultural variations in consumer tastes and the demand for desirability in modern home appliances.
We have challenged a number of top designers to come up with design concepts which make energy saving in the home desirable. The briefs include areas of potential which are particularly 'unsexy' - such as draught exclusion, wall insulation, and green energy modular roofs.
We're also working on systems to make the consumption of energy from individual appliances visible - allowing people to see the cost of running their Dyson vacuum cleaner for half an hour as compared with perhaps their Bose stereo.
Later in the autumn we'll be launching a website detailing these and other scenarios for behaviour change which could just make energy efficiency in home appliances a must-have feature. What we'd like in 10 years time is for leading manufacturers to be logging the British market as unusually energy-aware, and 'green' as the new brushed chrome!