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What is the Designers Accord?

Postby Ann Benoit » March 26th, 2009, 9:58 am


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Hey everyone, the aim of the forum {and the Designers Accord} is to unite designers (of all disciplines) through sharing of resources, methodologies, experiences about not just environmental— but also social issues in our industry.

A DA specific forum enables us to have this discussion about the conflicting views about what "sustainable" and "environmental" actually mean and how these meanings have changed and continue to change while also thinking of the larger social role of the designer. What do we feel our personal role is in regards to "sustainability" within our field? How to we share resources openly? How do we learn from each others mistakes? How do we unite our personal "sustainability" goals with also considering the social issues we care about? How do we unite what industrial designers know with what the graphic designers have learned?

The Designers Accord asks all its members (as part of joining) to engage in these conversations with their clients as well as hopefully with themselves and their peers in an organized way. Obviously joining an organization like the DA isn't the only way to achieve these things, but its aim is to foster this type of supportive community as a way to facilitate these visions.

What would you like to get out of the DA?

http://designersaccord.org/index.html
Last edited by Ann Benoit on April 4th, 2009, 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Postby iab » March 27th, 2009, 10:24 am


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What I want is a quantifiable, evidence-based definition. Otherwise all you will have is a feel-good exercise that will lose interest in a few months.

Your website indicates a need to lower your carbon footprint. Is there a standard to measure an existing footprint? How much reduction is needed? Is the carbon footprint the only environmental impact to consider? What is acceptable reduction of other pollutants? What trade-offs can be done?

Is environmental impact the only consideration or should social and economic impact be a part of the equation? How do I factor in social and economic impact? How do the three offset each other?

These are only a few questions I have but please don’t take them as a way of quashing the concept. I think these issues are some of the most important facing us today. I also think designers are perfectly positioned to have a central role in determining not only the solutions, but in defining the problem. Without the proper definitions, you will create a subjective pissing match without any credibility and void of any mainstream support. Our role should be to clarify, not to muddy the waters.

attempting to answer this question..

Postby valcasey » March 30th, 2009, 6:09 pm


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Hi iab,

Thanks for your post. Attempting some answers in line...

> What I want is a quantifiable, evidence-based definition. Otherwise all you will have is a feel-good exercise that will lose interest in a few months.

The Designers Accord is 21 months old. It continues to gain momentum because it isn't just a feel-good exercise. We are real designers trying to answer real challenges.

I think you might be missing the core of this though -- this movement was created because we don't have the answers yet. We are trying to figure them out together in a new model (our old model clearly hasn't worked -- we've "innovated" our way into a social and environmental disaster).

> Your website indicates a need to lower your carbon footprint. Is there a standard to measure an existing footprint? How much reduction is needed? Is the carbon footprint the only environmental impact to consider? What is acceptable reduction of other pollutants? What trade-offs can be done?

Check out this article we sent to the DA community:
http://www.designersaccord.org/progress ... index.html

"Measuring Your Footprint: A Guideline" at the bottom of the page.

> Is environmental impact the only consideration or should social and economic impact be a part of the equation? How do I factor in social and economic impact? How do the three offset each other?

The guidelines list environmental impact AND social impact. And yes, we advocate thinking about the triple bottom line.

Check out:
http://www.designersaccord.org/da_guidelines.html


> These are only a few questions I have but please don’t take them as a way of quashing the concept. I think these issues are some of the most important facing us today. I also think designers are perfectly positioned to have a central role in determining not only the solutions, but in defining the problem. Without the proper definitions, you will create a subjective pissing match without any credibility and void of any mainstream support. Our role should be to clarify, not to muddy the waters.

I appreciate the dialogue!

I do think you should do a little more research before you post though.... If you want ready made solutions and definitions, the Designers Accord isn't for you. Most designers want to come to this challenge together. That's evidenced by the thousands of people involved in this coalition globally. If you're worried about credibility, see who is part of the Designers Accord. You could read the press too, it might help you understand a bit better.

Postby iab » March 31st, 2009, 4:50 pm


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Hello Valerie,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I am especially appreciative of the link to the progress report link you posted. I am interested in that type of specific information, a general overview does not provide much direction. If I may make a suggestion, I would post your progress reports and the links within in a more prominent position on your website so you don’t have knuckleheads like me sounding off. I realize now they are on your history page but with my browser the links look the same as the regular test. I had no idea there was more information to be had.

If you don’t mind, I have a few more questions.

I understand it is still early, but are you planning to include more definition as you gain more knowledge? I am probably a bit tainted because of my field, but I still want evidence-based outcomes. I want proof that my actions will have a positive impact. I am also going to need to be able to quantify that impact. If I become carbon-neutral and in doing so I have priced myself out of business, my actions have done more harm than good.

Will you be developing guidelines in some form? I certainly can contribute to a process like that but it is too large for one person/department. That is where a collaboration like your group would be invaluable.

Then there are more mundane questions I have that may be premature. Obviously I can reduce footprint by upgrading to more energy efficient products. But should that doesn’t take into consideration of the life-cycle of my current product. Will tackling trade-offs like that and other types of trade-offs be addressed in the future?

Finally, I noticed the goal of having zero carbon footprint. Is that realistic or even necessary? I see sustainability as a balance, neither one extreme nor another. I need the evidence or you run the danger of being too divisive.

And on a side note, I tried visiting the Natural Logic website but as of 4:45pm CDST, it was hacked.

Postby valcasey » April 1st, 2009, 2:16 pm


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Hi iab,

Responses inline:

>> If I may make a suggestion, I would post your progress reports and the links within in a more prominent position on your website so you don’t have knuckleheads like me sounding off.

We're redesigning at the moment and the UX will be much better.


>> I understand it is still early, but are you planning to include more definition as you gain more knowledge?

I want to reiterate that I am not a sustainability expert, but I have the privilege of being a part of the lots of conversations. We set up the wiki so that we could managing the vocabulary, and the hope is that would eventually become a resource.


>> I still want evidence-based outcomes. I want proof that my actions will have a positive impact. I am also going to need to be able to quantify that impact.

We all do, but there is not a simple answer. If there was we'd all be doing it already. In terms of "impact", we don't even have a good definition of what this could mean. This is a journey and I strongly encourage you to create and contribute on the wiki.


>> If I become carbon-neutral and in doing so I have priced myself out of business, my actions have done more harm than good.

Carbon footprint measurement is most useful at this stage in looking inward, and really gaining a clear picture of your activities.


>> Will you be developing guidelines in some form? I certainly can contribute to a process like that but it is too large for one person/department. That is where a collaboration like your group would be invaluable.

Agreed, this is our aim.


>> Will tackling trade-offs like that and other types of trade-offs be addressed in the future?

This questions will be addressed in the future if you (we) do it.


>> Finally, I noticed the goal of having zero carbon footprint.

There is no goal stated by the Designers Accord to have a zero carbon footprint. All of the conversation on this particular guideline has been about relative, not absolute, measurement.


>> And on a side note, I tried visiting the Natural Logic website but as of 4:45pm CDST, it was hacked.

The site is up: http://www.natlogic.com/


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