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Rallying and Volleying at Design Green NOW!

Posted by Annie Millican on April 3 at 6:30 PM Design Green Now launched its three-part series of panel discussions exploring innovations in environmentally responsible design this week at Pratt Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology. I had the pleasure of attending both events, which invoked the investigative spirit to examine material use and waste reclamation in design.

Because I have some behind-the-scenes knowledge of the production processes that both facilitate and compromise the green agenda of designers, I was particularly impressed by the panelist’s sincere and thoughtful consideration of the issues.

The hyperbole that has become pervasive in green industry today– dare I say it! green washing – was conspicuously absent from the dialogue. In fact, Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D, Co-Founder and Partner of Terreform 1, who spoke at Pratt on Innovative Materials, advocated using a new word altogether: “socio-sustainable” – acknowledging that “green” and “sustainable” cannot evolve hermetically.

Dr. Andrew Dent, Vice President of Library & Materials Research at Material ConneXion, spoke on the same panel and said that the ubiquity of “green” was problematic because there is no metric to verify the degree of “greenness” of a product.

Of course, the panelists did not spend the duration of the event debating or rhapsodizing “eco”. They had more constructive feedback to give (even still, it was nice to see such notable figures apply a critical eye to the “Green” bug). All agreed that labels were secondary to the content of the work; that asking the right questions at the nascent stage of design is what makes a product environmentally safe in the long run. There was also a palpable ambivalence towards “Green”, like “Heck! Green is sticking, so let’s add value to it and work within its parameters!”

Speakers shared insights and anecdotes that painted a comprehensive picture of the developments of their own “socio-sustainable” businesses. Jason Salfi, Co Founder and President of Comet Skateboards has made skateboarding even more “street” by reaching out to communities to encourage collective brainstorming on new products.

Paul S. Mankiewicz, Ph.D., Executive Director of the The Gaia Institute spoke about green roofs and how implementing more of them in New York can combat the urban heat-island effect.

Andrew Personnette, a co-founder, speaker, and moderator of Design Green Now, carried this theme over into his presentation at FIT, where he engaged the audience in an active discussion about building codes and what incites landlords to “go green”.

Tiffany Threadgould, Chief Design Junkie of TerraCycle brought show-and-tell supplies to demonstrate how upcycling works: post-consumer and post-industrial waste is transformed into something of greater value through creativity. For example, the skins of potato chip bags are turned into “sew-able” materials to make bags and accessories.

The panel discussions conclude on April 13th at Parsons, and I can’t wait!

Also, if you haven’t seen Wall-E, do it! Mitchell Joachim cited it as one of his favorite movies.

Topics: energy, leadership, leed, recycling, strategy, sustainability        SHARE:  Share with Delicious Share with Stumble Upon Share with Furl Share with Digg Share with Reddit

9 Comments so far...

I read this and DID NOT print i out...it's the beginning...

Posted by agm on April 4 at 3:16 AM

Thanks for the info. I look forward to the next talk. Is Wall-E the new Fern Gully? I think need to see it.

Posted by P.E. on April 6 at 12:33 PM

Check out the Parson's Event!


Posted by AFHM on April 6 at 6:04 PM

Wow, I'm sad to have missed the talks but am glad that I can still catch the concluding event at Parson's on the 13th! I recently read an article about green roofs and I want to know more - will there be more of this at the concluding talks? I look forward to reading further blog posts!

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