Sustainability is one of the pillars of our curriculum. We teach our students that everything they design, from clothing to furniture to buildings, as well as how those buildings are constructed, must make efficient use of resources. Sustainability is a fundamental and essential aspect of practice, another pillar of our curriculum.
Great designers are acutely aware of resources. It affects every aspect of their lives: It’s the coffee cup they use, the car they drive, the structures they design, and how they respect the environment and the people who live and work and worship there. I often tell students that design isn’t something you stop and start in your life. Design is your life. Sustainability has to join that circle of who you are. When you think about where we live and the resources we have, we are at a moment in time when we have to learn to use these resources in a much better way.
Our new “Green. By Design.” initiative challenges us to be sustainable across the board. It reminds us to ask ourselves, Do I really need to print this out? Is this the best way to commute to campus? Can someone else in the Materials Lab use the scrap from my project? Should the structure I’m designing have a building envelope that will require less energy?
“Green. By Design.” is also a reminder that great things happen when we partner with our students. The idea and the drive behind it come from collaboration between our Student Life office and our Student Council. They identified this way to connect our mission to our daily campus routines. One of our first actions will be to eliminate disposable cups by giving students bottles and mugs they can reuse. This may seem like a small effort, but we use 60,000 cups a year—enough to encircle our building 19 times!
There are many areas where we can conserve the use of resources. Share your suggestions with me in the comments.