Globally governments are tackling sustainability and carbon reduction targets through the introduction of new policy and legislation. Driven by this, many sectors are striving to improve their green credentials, but the route to a circular economy is often fraught with obstacles. There is an ever-increasing need for readily accessible, certified and endorsed materials, products and approaches, but with information overload, and a mind-boggling array of websites, where do designers start in finding the most sustainable solutions? We need to streamline our design work and find ways of making the most of all the research and development that’s taken place over recent years, as well as plugging gaps by encouraging new research and entrepreneurs.
Some sectors already have their own systems in place to signpost sustainable solutions. But what about projects that need to interface with a wide variety of different sectors? We need a one-stop-shop to make the work of project managers and designers easier, quicker, cheaper and of course, more sustainable. The Sustainable Design Cookbook (SDC) aims to do just that. The SDC will be offered as both a web-based system, but also as an app, to make it as accessible as possible.
On a new project, the designer often needs to spend a large part of their time accessing numerous different data sources, which can conflict with commercial pressures of a business. By partnering with professional and government bodies and enabling an accreditation scheme for suppliers, the SDC will give project design teams direct access to a trusted and streamlined source of information. For each sector, it will list the most sustainable materials, products and best practice approaches, linking to detailed ‘certified’ material and application data sheets that summarise the impact on the environment.
The input to the SDC process will be an outline project specification, with the final output culminating in a project or product that is as sustainable as possible (see concept flow diagram). The platform won't be just limited to traditional engineering but will also sign-post to nature-based solutions, encouraging ecological restoration as part of a design wherever possible (for example on drainage and flood defence schemes).
The SDC will be more than another reference site. In tandem with the project 'cookbook' will be a platform that will create a much-needed voice for sustainable, inclusive design - allowing for discussion groups, committees and the sharing of best practice across both the professional community and educational institutions. Collaboration will be encouraged, and new entrepreneurs invited to invest in the best solutions.
In support of SDG12, the site will be independent, developed and managed by a not-for-profit partnership, supporting truly responsible and purposeful solutions. The SDC partnership will seek core funding from research institutions, government bodies and design development grants e.g. https://www.ukri.org/councils/innovate-uk/guidance-for-applicants/. Suppliers of products are increasingly driven to providing sustainable solutions, so we believe they will be supportive of the SDC and willing to contribute to its funding, via accreditation membership fees.
For our 'mock' concept website please see https://thesustainabledesigncookbook.wordpress.com/