chapter  1.2
7 Pages

The Centrality of Design

WithJanis Birkeland

The design of the built environment has held a minor position in the literature of environmental management and sustainability. Patterns of design are wasteful of non-renewable resources, create toxic materials and by-products, require excessive energy for production, harm biodiversity at the source of extraction, and often involve energy-intensive longdistance transport. The design of the built environment creates ongoing and unnecessary expenses for business and industry, even after construction and occupancy. Most appliances are designed to use excessive amounts of operating energy and ecologically costly materials. The relatively poor in society, as well as future generations, are left to bear the social costs of extraction, conversion, distribution of resources and energy, and of the accumulation of land and capital. Social conflict, exploitation and environmental destruction occur almost inevitably as a long-term consequence of pyramidal systems. Eco-logical design, which seeks more social and environmental value for less resources and energy, can reduce many of the side-effects of inequitable wealth transfers.