If you are a designer, you participate in creating how we experience the world: how needs are fulfilled and aspirations met. This power of design carries with it an equally powerful responsibility to support the earth and the systems that sustain it.
How to do this has been the focus of my design teaching and practice. As a professor and Director of Sustainability Initiatives at Art Center College of Design, I lecture and teach ‘Design for Sustainability’ classes and studios that prepare designers to take on the challenge of creating sustainable systems by improving the environmental and life cycle performance of product services. This is a new and exciting area for design, and requires new practices and tools for the designer. Together with industry experts, faculty and students, I led a research project to create a practical method for integrating life cycle assessment into the development of products and services.
Prior to becoming a designer, I was an environmental engineer with Bechtel and Parsons Engineering, where I worked on nuclear, wind and geothermal energy projects and managed environmental and cultural compliance for NASA/US Air Force construction projects. I co-founded a graphic design and letterpress company and became an instructor at Art Center. In addition to teaching, I currently serve on the Executive Board of Icograda (an international design organization) as Vice President, and speak, consult and lead workshops for companies and organizations wishing to integrate sustainability into their design practices.
I recently completed a Masters in Sustainability and Environmental Management at Harvard University, and wrote a paper describing how life cycle thinking can be used to establish design goals and strategies and inform decision-making. A tool kit to support the methodology is underway.