Due to the bias of my upbringing, slipping advertising and sustainability into the same sentence seems like a complete contradiction. Take a step back, however, and it is not so different from the emerging conversations in disciplines like architecture and industrial design. All design disciplines in some way have contributed to the problems we currently face, and all professional practices are looking for ways of remaining relevant in a changing world.
Robin Uchida, a brilliant mind who is part of Torch Partnership was telling me today of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi’s move into the strategic sustainability realm through establishment of a new arm; Saatchi & Saatchi S. Listening to how they position themselves casts the advertising agency in a different light. Pay attention to their language:
Saatchi & Saatchi S is a full service strategy and communications firm focused on “activating companies for good.” We believe that engaged, inspired, and values-driven employees are the foundation of sustainable companies and innovative brands.
Behaviour is the gold of strategic scenarios. If you can shift behaviour, you may be able to prevent the need for innovation/technology in the first place. The following quote is from a document: “European Green Building Technologies” and it discusses the difference in behaviour between Americans and Europeans:
Europeans don’t seem to be as sensitive as Americans to temperature excursions in the workspace. They ﬁnd somewhat comical Americans’ insistence on wearing the same clothing in the office year-round and expecting the same 73F temperatures, with little variation. This expectation of year-round constant air temperature is a great hindrance in adopting natural ventilation and radiant space conditioning systems, which can’t promise the “instant response” of overhead ducted, forced ventilation systems.
In Toronto summer is coming on strong right now. There are grumblings about it being too hot (after we have gone through months of grumbling it being too cold), but I am wearing a sweater and pants while sitting at my desk as there is an A/C duct directly behind me transforming my office into an ice box. Being in a condo there is not much we can do about it, and it is surprisingly easy to get used to the luxury of a very cool home.
Also found today is a pyramid / hierarchy diagram communicating the strategic opportunities of how / where to manage water. Unsurprisingly behaviour has the biggest impact. Have a look here.
Anyway, the document above has some absolute gold when discussing the big strategic challenges and opportunities within sustainable green building. I’m going outside to read in the sun.
Scenarios of Sustainability within design.
What if our products never became waste?
Infinitely upgradable, endless lifecycle, constant innovation growth and evolution. Closed loops of technology cycles that are broken down, and remade into the latest generation of must have features.
What would your cell phone look like if it was infinitely upgradable?
If the high energy, high toxicity components, namely the electronic core, was re-usable and upgradable, then this could be an interesting step forward. But perhaps the scale of product is too small for realistic exploration.
Do you want to hack your car?
Recently I became very aware of living in my own bubble of self interests. Unknowingly I had created a personal echo-chamber where the people I spent time with, read on line and in books, or watched on TV all bounced around ideas and opinions that I mostly agreed with. It makes for a wonderful self full filling environment that depending on your world views can leave you very positive that things are happening the way you want them to happen. Reading nothing but your favourite sport and gadgets makes you think that the latest whizz bangery and winning the game at all costs may be the purpose of the world. Or if your a fan of doom and gloom and you only follow those that let your world view is proven that we are all in serious trouble.
But I realized, especially when I read this paper (one of the co-authors, Jutta Trevianus is now at OCAD University), that I was missing the bigger picture. It might also mean I was weakening my potential for creative problem solving that would require looking at a subject from many different frames of mind. Framed this way in the conclusion of the paper:
“Diversity [of media] promotes innovation and creativity and results in better problem solving. Mathematical modeling shows that this phenomenon is partly due to the increased coverage of possible options that a diversity of perspectives and therefore diversity of paths enables…”
So, only reading the basketball news of your favourite team, the fashion magazine that reflects the beauty of your culture, the newspaper that supports your political and ideological beliefs, and blogs that feed your personal interests, may actually make you a worse person?