Sustainable design

Inside the shotgun marriage of design and supply chain processes

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

These days…joining design and supply chain processes is a necessity, owing to customers’ increasing demands for responsible environmental stewardship and worker safety, along with numerous countries’ regulations enforcing those two protections. Product designers have no choice but to engage their company’s supply chain to ensure that products are hazardous-substance free, that supply-chain workers are treated fairly and that products are responsibly recycled.

​Scientists develop mesh that captures oil — but lets water through

Read the full story from Ohio State University.

The unassuming piece of stainless steel mesh in a lab at The Ohio State University doesn’t look like a very big deal, but it could make a big difference for future environmental cleanups.

Water passes through the mesh but oil doesn’t, thanks to a nearly invisible oil-repelling coating on its surface…

The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers (here and here) in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.

What if companies and their buildings actually enhanced ecosystems?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

What if building codes actually required new projects to enhance a certain number of ecosystem services — such as sequestering carbon, building topsoil, enhancing pollination, increasing biodiversity or purifying water and air?

Is it possible that a city could be functionally indistinguishable from the wild landscape around it? And what if companies ultimately built factories that truly enhanced ecosystem services?

These were the big questions that biologist and biomimicry expert Janine Benyus posed during her keynote presentation at the recent International Living Future Institute’s 2015 unConference in Seattle.

One Step Closer to Artificial Photosynthesis and “Solar Fuels”

Read the full story from Caltech.

Caltech scientists, inspired by a chemical process found in leaves, have developed an electrically conductive film that could help pave the way for devices capable of harnessing sunlight to split water into hydrogen fuel.

Creating an emotional connection with lighting through redesign

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Instead of buying new items when we tire of them or they develop a fault, can we design and use our products in a smarter way? Can we create a more meaningful and personal ecosystem in which the provision of lighting is radically developed from simply buying a bulb? Can Philips measure the relationship a customer has to lighting less in terms of units sold and more through an emotional connection that the company can nurture over decades?

Forget about cotton, we could be making textiles from banana and pineapple

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Cotton makes up a third of fibre consumption in the textile industry, according to a global apparel fibre consumption report published in 2013. The cotton production industry is labour intensive and involves a lot of sweat, chemicals and fresh water.

Could a number of innovations from natural sources and raw materials compete with the unsustainable product of the cotton plant?

What business can learn from Mother Nature, the greenest chemist of all

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

For years, environmental managers for chemistry and materials companies have fussed over methods to neutralize toxic wastes and pollutants. Now, more are experimenting with formulas written by the world’s most accomplished chemist, Mother Nature.

“Nature is alive with chemistry,” said Mark Dorfman, green chemistry and research analyst with Biomimicry 3.8, a scheduled keynote speaker at next week’s GreenBiz Forum. “Every single organism exists through their own unique chemical reactions. Nature has figured out how to do this in a sophisticated, elegant, life-friendly way.”

Glimpses of the impact that the convergence between green chemistry and biomimicry — the practice of looking to nature for product or process design ideas — are still relatively rare, Dorfman admitted. But advances in computer-aided design software and 3-D printing are catalyzing new innovations, he said. “It’s far easier to test ideas and simulate what you think might happen. When you have taken things far enough, then you can build prototypes.”