Sustainable design

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.”

6 sustainable innovation and design trends to watch

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Over the last 20 years, businesses have played their part in the increasing global discussion of climate change and how to adapt to it. Resource efficiency and security have moved up the policy and business agenda, and the more recent discussions have been reframed under the circular economy banner.

From a relatively small number of green niche players and a few leaders in the manufacturing sector implementing eco-design in the early to mid-1990s, we have seen a broadening of the sectors and stakeholders engaged in the “greening” of products. However, most of the focus is still on eco-design rather than sustainable design, and product-related environmental compliance rather than innovation or new business models.

Sustainable innovation continues to move up the business agenda. But what will it look like this year?

New ASU center will advance biomimicry education and research

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Global biomimicry innovation consulting firm Biomimicry 3.8 announced today it has partnered with Arizona State University — one of the largest universities in the world by student population — to launch the Biomimicry Center, which aims to help accelerate the spread of biomimicry training and research.

Students completing the online-only program will earn either a graduate certificate in biomimicry or a masters of science in biomimicry (the first in the world). Students will take courses in communicating , teaching and facilitating biomimicry, along with several electives.

The program is, by design, online-only — due to its appeal to working professionals. However, there are plans to establish an on-campus degree within the next two years. Most significant, this is an accredited degree program, which could make it easier for prospective students to secure employer buy-in and student loans.

On a Mission: Finding Life Cycle Environmental Solutions

Read the full post from U.S. EPA.

We often describe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program as the small program with the big mission, to protect human health and the environment. The mission is big and the areas of focus are broad: air, water, climate change, waste and manufacturing. We strive to promote “greening” it all.

The President’s budget calls to equip the EPA with the best scientific information and research to underpin its regulatory actions and helps the agency find the most sustainable solutions for the wide range of environmental challenges facing the United States today. It supports high-priority research in such areas as air quality, sustainable approaches to environmental protection, and safe drinking water.

Through the years, the EPA SBIR program has supported advances in green technologies such as state-of-the-art monitoring devices and pollution clean-up systems and processes. Recently though, we have expanded to support companies whose ideas are launched from a foundation of life cycle assessment (LCA). This proactive approach means solving an environmental problem in a way that takes into account resources, feedstock, emissions, toxicity and waste.