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Could ‘green’ energy kill the desert?

One of the more remarkale sights on my recent trip was this vast wind farm outside Palm Springs. Located on the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass in the San Bernadino Mountains, it contains more than 4000 separate wind turbines and provides enough electricity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. But for critics, large […]

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Off-Grid Water (Service design clinic, Stanford University, 2009)

Together with Banny Banerjee, the new Director of Stanford University’s ’Design For Change programme, we ran a professional design clinic on the theme of “off-grid water”. Our Stanford clinic focused on entrepreneurs in the Palo Alto region who were developing tools to help citizens manage water sustainably. Rainwater Hog has won lots of prizes, but […]

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Are you, or do you know, a wind catcher expert?

A friend in Colombia has sent me this picture of the model of their proposed new house. She asks my advice on its wind-catching performance, how wide these have to be…etc. Now I’m flattered to be thought to be an expert on such an incredibly sustainable thing as zero energy airco – but my practical […]

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Sustainable Daily Life (Projects Clinic, The Planning Center, Southern California, 2009)

“What would life in a sustainable world be like?” Together with The Planning Center, we organized this workshop in Southern California for participants from grassroots organizations. Each presented case studies in which they use resources in a creative, original way. Jules Dervaes is a pioneer in urban edible gardens; he calls them “urban homesteads”. Jules […]

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Travel Without Moving (Design clinic on ‘sustainability immobility’ at Pixelache Festival, Helsinki, 2009)

Many of us are confronted by a painful dilemma: the only way to reduce our ecological footprint of flying is to stop flying – and yet we feel we need to travel for our work, and to see loved ones. Can modern transport and tourism ever be sustainable? After all, the movement of people and […]

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JT West: Experiencing Sustainability

Climate change, peak debt, peak energy: these are all stakes being driven into the body of business as usual. The days of acting as if infinite growth were possible within a finite system are over. Where does this leave (interaction) design? To find out you need to attend my talk on “Experiencing Sustainability” at IxDA […]

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City Eco Lab: productive urban gardens

One of the inspiring discoveries we made in putting City Eco Lab together was l’Ilot d’Amaranthes,a five-year-long project in which St Etienne designer Emanuel Louisgrand, in partnership with Galerie Roger Tator, has created productive gardens on abandoned sites in different parts of Lyon. Given the range of malfunctioning global systems we have to deal with, […]

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City Eco Lab: the art of food proximity

“Let’s keep food around us” says Debra Solomon of her presentation at City Eco Lab: Lucky Mi Fortune Cooking. It’s is a working example of how a community can optimize its food flow using design. “New (food) products are not the answer” says Solomon; “new platforms, new actors, new configurations are”. There are a lot […]

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City Eco Lab: The river runs through us

If perpetual, resource-intensive growth is no longer a viable model for the development of a city-region, what alternatives are available? In City Eco Lab, we explored the idea that St Etienne’s river, le Furan, and the natural systems of the broader region, might be a fruitful basis for re-imagining the city. It was in this […]

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