Talk:Sustainable design

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The fact that people usually associate design with the production of physical objects is a problem. Eco-design (or green design) is simply the step improvement of the impact of those objects and is quite limited in its scope. The true strengths of design lie elsewhere – the physical outputs are just by-products really. Design is a people-based approach to problem solving, and any project that design is applied to can benefit by becoming more appropriate to its audience, more visual, more desirable and more appealing. Cooler. --Clare.brass 12:00, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

New project proposal related to this article[edit]

There is a new project proposal that some of you here may be interested in: Wikibuilder - a knowledge base covering the design and construction of the built environment, in its entirety, in all languages. See meta:Proposals for new projects#Wikibuilder and meta:Wikibuilder for more information, and feel free to add your comments to meta:Talk:WikibuilderChristiaan - 09:46, 18 Jan 2005

Fulfilling needs[edit]

I think that Sustainable Design should be about fulfilling needs rather than necessarily 'producing an object'. The design should be decided in respect of the whole system and context within which it shall exist.

Ultimately a 'solution' should respond to real needs with the aim of improving the quality of life: not only of the direct user but also of all that is effected by its use for now into the future. This suggests that 'solutions' are likely to be diverse: sometimes a product would be best but other times a service, system or method etc.

Please feel free to edit and/or add to my text! Kat UK

The term "Sustainable Design" has seemingly become a title for practices in architecture that are done "in addition to" what an architect normally does. This notion is reinforced by the fact that services that include sustainable thinking must be requested by clients as an additional service. In a sense, sustainable design must be, in some way, "anounced" as an objective to the architectural program of any given project.

Before industrialization, "sustainable design" was merely included within the comprehensive package of architecture and building. It wasn't something that could be avoided: the master builder simply had to work with nature.

A very similar phenomenon occured with fire codes. Before a handful of significant disasters occured, recieved an ample amount of press, and then became catalysts for legislation, fire codes did not exist. Society decided that life safety is an issue that cannot be ignored, especially when dealing with something as ubiquitous as the built environment. Now, design and building with life safety and, more specifically, fire prevention in mind is considered a part of the comprehensive purview of architecture and buiding.

The point is that sustainable design, as such, will only "stick" once the autonomy of its categorization disappears and ecology and sustainability become criterion for architecture.

Re proposal to merge from Sustainable technology[edit]

I started Sustainable technology, not realizing that this page (Sustainable design) already existed. I guess they are best merged, unless someone suggests why they should be separate...? --Singkong2005 04:08, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

  • Support - can see no reason why the 2 aspects can't be dealt with in paragraphs in the same article - suggest sustainable technology is merged into sustainable design because although sus 'design' is likely to use sus 'technology' there will be other methods than just technological to achieve design goals.--Mcginnly 11:28, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Support - and there are a few other merges in this general neighborhood as well, methinks. (See below) Skybum 17:48, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

While there is overlap with green design and sustainable design, I don't think that environmental design is necessarily a synonym for sustainable design. Environmental design is a process of designing environment(s) and designing with environment in mind, but I suggest that sustainable design is a lot more problematic a term in that it is more difficult to define and it is also a lot more difficult to achieve in practice.

Overlap with Green Design[edit]

There is significant overlap between this article and Green design. I'm not suggesting that they be merged, but this article should at least refer to it. My read is that sustainble design accounts for social impacts in addition to the environmental and economic impacts considered by green design.

I agree. Not sure what the difference is. Hechung 03:34, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


Agreed wholeheartedly. I think it is a real problem that all of wikipedias 'sustainable' articles are centered so heavily around the environmental 'green' side ('sustainability' should be much more encompassing, and should in my mind also include non-'green' things). Maybe I will get around to fixing some up someday, but I fear offending some people who have written them.Miscreant 11:15, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

I also agree. Given the current state of the articles, at least, they probably ought to be merged. If the merged article grows too large, then it may at some point be desirable to split it along "environmental sustainability" and "social sustainability" lines, although such a split might be messy, as the two are very closely linked in real life (the local organic farming movement, for example, could fit equally well in either category). Also, having these various permutations of roughly the same concept described in a single article will attract a larger number of editors to the same place, thereby increasing the overall quality of the article. So, my vote is: merge and redirect for now, and split later if really necessary. Skybum 17:59, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Miscreant: "Maybe I will get around to fixing some up someday, but I fear offending some people who have written them."
Don't worry, just be bold! I find if you do it in the right spirit, with a suitable brief explanation in the Edit summary box, (and on the talk page if it's something major) there's rarely a problem. And a user who doesn't like the result can alway edit it again, or do a partial or full revert. --Singkong2005 (t - c - WPID) 03:52, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

From my understanding, Green Design is and should be only 1 element of sustainable design. Green design is largely focused on the environmental impacts and economic effects of building, but sustainability is a broader term that encompasses environmental, economic, and social impacts. It is long term oriented and looks at cross-generational impacts as well as current effects. Green Design should be a category within the Sustainable Design articles, but does not need to stand separate from them.

Looking at the Green design article, it seems to me that a 'split merge' would be appropriate. The introduction and principles of green design would do well at the beginning of the sustainable design article, and the Green design in architecture and construction section could be integrated into sustainable architecture or green building. Green design could then be redirected to Sustainable design. I think a new section in Sustainable design called Green design would help distinguish the terms. --Jrsnbarn 05:59, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Proposal to merge from Environmental Design[edit]

There is currently a great deal of overlap between this topic and that one, such that they should be merged. The reason I am suggesting merging to this article, rather than the other way around, is that usage of the term "Environmental Design" as synonymous with "sustainable design" is actually a neologism, albeit a widespread one. The traditional meaning of the term is "design of the built environment" (distinguishing it from graphic design, product design, and so forth), which does not necessarily have anything to do with the natural environment. Thus I propose merging most of that article's text into this one, writing a new article in its place describing the normative meaning of the term, and providing a prominent link to this page for those seeking the neologistical meaning of it. Skybum 17:54, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

It sounds reasonable - I don't have specific knowledge of the terminology, but it makes sense. There's been no objections, so if you know what you're doing, then go for it. --Singkong2005 (t - c - WPID) 03:56, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
I strongly disagree and object, Environmental design -- is not -- synonymous sustainable design. Environmental Design, as defined by social science, is "is a concept that recognizes the importance of planning and designing communities that meets the needs of people in everyday living." Environmental design draws upon both the social sciences as well as design. Issues related to sustainability are not always synonymous - which explains the existance of schools of environmental design that often are comprised of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, regional planning, and environmental planning academic programs--Ryan @ Buffalo.
I don't understand where you are trying to draw the line between the two. Are you saying that sustainability is not multi-disciplinary? That sustainability does not include social sciences? As far as I am concerned the three articles proposed to merge are all aiming for the same thing. My thought is to combine them all on this page, and include a good opening paragraph to explain the difference between them, which at present is not explained in any of the articles Miscreant 02:15, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Ryan - I'm also not clear on your meaning, but it seems to me that maybe you're referring to what Skybum said:
The traditional meaning of the term is "design of the built environment"
In which case Skybum's suggestion to create an Environmental design article on that definition is a good one. Is that reasonable? --Singkong2005 (t - c - WPID) 17:38, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

I think they should be maintained and if desired articulated separately, as they are different areas. --Nomadologist 12:27, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

I think we need to find a better way of framing the discussion, and I'll attempt to do so below. Is anyone challenging Skybum's basic claim that environmental design has traditionally been used to mean "design of the built environment"? --Singkong2005 talk 06:03, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

oppose merger entirely different and large subjects on their own Anlace 02:33, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

oppose merger although sustainable design is a very prominent issue in environmental design, the are large separate subjects -matija, UBC

Proposal to merge most material from Environmental design into this article[edit]

This is based on Skybum's proposal above, reworded to avoid the confusion that seems to have occurred. Skybum, could you please edit the proposal below if I haven't reflected your intention.


  • The traditional meaning of the term Environmental design is "design of the built environment"[citation needed] (distinguishing it from graphic design, product design, and so forth), which does not necessarily have anything to do with the natural environment.
  • "Environmental Design" as synonymous with "sustainable design" is actually a neologism, albeit a widespread one.
  • Environmental design is not a new term. it has been used by design practioners since the 1970s and textbooks have been written on it. it is certainly not a neologism Anlace 04:07, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

In view of that, here are two related proposals:

--Singkong2005 talk 06:07, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

the above proposal could marginally work, but it's tricky since environmental design needs to cover the urban planning issues, built environment, bioswales, lighting issues, energy efficient buildings etc. Anlace 02:36, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
upon further study of the environmental design article, there is very little material that pertains to sustainable design. the real issue here is that environmental design is a very poorly written article pertaining to a huge and important topic. someone really needs to spend some time on it. i ll put it on my list of articles to rewrite or create...but it's got dozens of items ahead of it on my personal list. Anlace 04:13, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

I am not a regular user, however I just happened to search for sustainable design and came across this discussion - having a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Design I wanted to support Anlace's last comment. The "Environment" in environmental desing has always made people assume it has something to do with landscaping or more recently eco-friendly designs. This is academic area originating out or architecture and urban planning - the "built environment" definition while basic, is a good starting point. Rich

Sustainable design and green design are very closely related. In my opinion, green design is an aspect of sustainable design. Sustainable design is designing a building so that it costs less when the building is in use. In other words, it cools more efficiently, heats more efficiently, costs less to build, uses as little outside resources (rainwater collection), uses less electricity(solar panels). All of these aspects focus on less costs, but they are also very environmentally friendly as well, so that when you design a sustainable house, it will be designed to be green as well. So it should be merged with sustainable design as a section under it.

I think both terms deserve their own wikis. I'm also thinking a page for green design furniture or products should be developed at some point. Thoughts? I saw a website that sells green design products on the Today Show Hechung 03:44, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


Sustainable living could be another terminology. Just from bad experience wiki merging. I would say that if "Green design" has sufficient information to fork from sustainable design then do so. If the subjects are closelly related and small then it may be worthwhile merging. Personnally I prefer having a stub that indicates that it is purposelly beeing left as such because the main article is here. If merging, there will obviously be some lost potential. Who coined the term "Green design", talking specifically about the use of the word "green design" instead of the concept. This I believe would warant enough to keep it a seperate article. --CyclePat 06:13, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Sustainable Design Students View[edit]

As a student doing a Sustainable Design module as part of my Design degree at University, I would agree with merging sustainable design and green design, but would suggest that "green" is left from the title. Unfortunatly green design does have a stigma attached to it that sustainable design has managed to avoid. The ideals strived for in sustainable design (which are being taught now) include economic success, growth and stability, aswell as "attempting to satisfy the needs of the present without jepordising the ability of future generations to provide for themselfs". Green design - as a generalisation - is purly focused on the enviormental impact, and doesnt always consider the system as a whole, economic growth isnt always considered within green design which is one of the only ways to get bussiness involved showing that eco-efficiency is a strong financial move. Products produced in the Green design era also tended to lack style, usablility and performance. As someone involved in the design community I feel that green design was a 90's buzz word and showed many faults, sustainable design is the progression, and has alot more ground to cover they overlap in content by 90% but there is a marked difference.

I propose...[edit]

...that the two categories be merged, and renamed: Eco-effective Design.

The above came from a person who is anxiously awaiting admissions' decisions from various master of architecture programs.

Link but don't merge.[edit]

The danger of merging In some of our cultures we tend to take a fashion-like approach to ideas. We discredit ideas just because they are "old". We should expect sustainability, green design, environmental design to be attacked politically by those that oppose this philosophy just the way that the notion of global climate change is being attacked today.

Merging all of these schools of thoght into one makes the task of political attacks easier. We need the existence of multiple points of view in order to encourage innovations through diversity of thought and variations in ideology or philosophy. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Letranova (talkcontribs) 20:01, 10 March 2007 (UTC).

New sections[edit]

I believe that sustainable design is a general term that applies to a number of disciplines. These include planning and architecture (which I have added sections for) as well as industrial design, transportation design, etc. which need to be added. It didn't seem that a topic as broad (and important) as sustainable design should just have a few illustrative examples and a big link farm. Please let me know if there is any concern with this new approach to this article. --Jrsnbarn 05:49, 12 March 2007 (UTC)


Am i the only one who sees an Architecture bias/predominance in the article's content ? I understand that architecture is a very significant area of sustainabiltiy, but i think other areas could also be enchanced for balance. (talk) 14:39, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Image suggestion[edit]

I read this article I think an image from the tree shaping article may be suitable.?oygul (talk) 12:06, 16 October 2012 (UTC)


The article currently opens with "See also: Sustainable engineering and Ecological design" and says that sustainable design is "also called environmental design". It does nothing to tell the reader the differences between these four design areas. If there's been a consensus not to merge the articles because they represent meaningfully distinct topics, we should explain that distinction to the reader, rather than having the articles link to one another with unclarified "see also"s, leaving the reader to work out which article they should be reading. --McGeddon (talk) 14:26, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

I'm cross-posting this: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Environment#Multiple_articles_on_sustainable_design. Fences&Windows 18:21, 26 May 2017 (UTC)

What about community and security needs as part of anthropological, religious/moral, creative freedoms?[edit]

Relationship, freedom of conscience, and governance are not covered in this article. People are not cattle, shared resources and services create stresses so shared values are needed. This should also be considered. Speaktruthonly (talk) 04:17, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

There is work on this in the field of sustainable design. I'll try to gather something from that, if others would like that discussed in this article. MaynardClark (talk) 04:35, 4 January 2016 (UTC)