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measuring uptake of sustainable design

Lately I’ve been trying to think of ways to measure the uptake by design professions of sustainable design over time. I’m particularly interested in architecture and product design. Obviously there are no official statistics collected on this question, so I’m trying to think of proxies that might indicate the activities of designers in this area over time.

Here are some of the proxies I’ve considered:

Frustratingly, even some of these proxy numbers would be difficult to find–for example who tracks all design competitions over time to compare how many are oriented at sustainability? One might be able to find an ongoing competition (such as the RSA’s student design competition) that takes on varying themes to find out how frequently the theme addressed sustainability. But the problems are evident. Some of the rating systems and professional societies might see their actual numbers as proprietary, or they may not have tracked them over time…

Another interesting question is how much university design programs, or design classes, indicate industry take up. In my experience, far more designers are training in topics of sustainability than can be employed in actual sustainable design jobs, so at this point I wouldn’t use university design student interest in sustainability as a proxie for industry take up.

What are your thoughts? Have you got any useful proxies for me? (It’s research for a forthcoming book on design and sustainable consumption).

I look forward to hearing your ideas in input — thanks!

5 Responses to measuring uptake of sustainable design

  1. Lucy says:


    I am an industrial design student working with a UNSW senior industrial design lecturer to propose a paper that will evaluate how much product design competitions support socially sustainable innovation.

    I think there is definitely a need for this resource, perhaps a non-profit website that explains and documents the history of each type of sustainability, by collating the types of statistics you are suggesting.

    The only problem is, who will do it? Or who will do it first?


  2. xxx says:

    I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.

  3. One particular can likely choose a continuing rivalry (such since RSA’s pupil design and style competition) in which takes on a lot of types to know how usually that topic addressed sturdiness.

  4. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I do know a number of forums that you could go to in order to acquire the kind of information your looking for. Skyscrapcity is one site that springs to mine. Hope that helps.

  5. I like designing, however i feel totally drawn to find out more about architecture, and yes it entirely possible that the architecture diploma will give us a larger selection of woking job areas which includes product design. 🙂

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