One of my biggest pet-peeves of “green” or “sustainable” design is that 100% (in my experience) was feel-good bs. No matter how often I asked, no one could quantify “green”. How am I to make any choice of what material or design to pursue to be “green”?
The article above shows one approach to the quantification of “green” though embodied energy. Not perfect by any means, but certainly better than someone’s opinion of “green”.
I think it’s a great contribution. Thinking about sustainability in a more quantitative way can bring an extra set of requirements that pushes the designer’s intellect and creativity even further to the limits. So that is wonderful.
I would like to stress though, even though I’m personally not tired of people trying to mainly strive for sustainability, that sustainability should not be the primary focus of innovation. I mean, then we might as well not produce anything at all anymore, and the sustainability problem will be solved. That is absurd of course, but so is conforming so much to what we think ‘nature’ wants that we start neglecting our own felt needs.
I am glad that the color green as related to sustainability has been shifting more towards blue, signifying the sky and water but also electricity. At least in the automotive industry that is the trend. In fact, thinking of nature as green is only one side of the coin. It’s the harmonious, idyllic picture of nature. The other side is that nature is just also very dirty, chaotic, and full of misery and death. Even bloodred that way can be pictured as the color of nature, it’s just all in our psychology - we have this longing for harmony but we need to accept that there’s also this gruesome side to nature. That’s not a happy (nor necessarily a bitter) ending but it is reality.