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If you are in a CAD drafting course, you may find there are a larger number of sustainable design projects coming your way, from buildings, landscaping to even cars. You may be curious why this type of design is becoming more popular, and the answer to that is practicality. Sustainable design refers to any type of design, whether it is furniture, architecture, landscape, fashion, automotive, civil engineering or cartography, which has the intention to eliminate negative environmental impact completely. This can be done through complete avoidance of non-renewable resources, attention to the natural surroundings, low energy costs and minimal materials.

Current Environmental Issues in Design

Cities are notorious for waste, and poor waste disposal. One of the driving ideas of sustainable design is to develop a means of eliminating waste or at least reducing its burden, and more so, to prevent waste from occurring in the first place. Current city planning techniques in places like sprawling suburbs are harmful to the environment and lack sustainability, due to the fact that they do not take into account the natural configuration of the land. This, unfortunately, causes ecological damage that is difficult to regenerate, including flooding, soil erosion, mudslides, pollution and the stagnation of streams. This is why CAD design courses are needed to develop more ecologically efficient designs.

Sustainable Designs

Buildings account for 40% of worldwide energy use, a shocking figure that has inspired designers to look towards sustainable materials, designs and planning in order to combat the increased energy usage of a growing world population. Sustainable architecture is an expanding sector of design which works to eliminate environmental impact through practices like efficient cooling and heating systems, rainwater harvesting and recycled building materials. The sustainable architecture also works to harvest on-site energy through solar technology, wind power, and green roofs. Working in hand with sustainable architecture, sustainable landscaping is the design of outdoor spaces to improve biodiversity.

The sustainable graphic design is a smaller subsection of sustainable design, which works to reduce the environmental impact of graphic design materials like paper and packaging. This is done by switching to non-VOC inks and using paper made from recycled materials. Sustainable fashion design is another less well-known but impactful area of design. Fashion designers may use recycled materials to create fashion accessories like purses. There are many online stores like Etsy where handmade designs involving recycled materials and organic fabrics are available to the general public for affordable prices.

New Urbanism

You may find New Urbanism trickling into building designs in your architectural CAD courses and classes in urban planning. The concept was conceived back in the early 20th century before the rise of automobiles resulted in the widening of our streets. New Urbanism was revived in the 1980s and has since been touted as a more environmentally sustainable way to organize neighbourhoods. They maximize minimal land use and create walkable communities which require fewer automobiles on the road and polluting the air. Some key elements of new urbanism include:

  • A green space in the centre of the neighbourhood
  • Everything in the neighbourhood is a 5-minute walk (transit, grocery, schools)
  • Streets form a connected network, minimizing vehicle idling and increasing pedestrian accessibility
  • Compactness of urban dwellings means fewer resources being used

You can find examples of existing New Urbanism designs in the following communities:

  • Jakriborg, Sweden
  • Cornell, Ontario
  • Melrose Arch, Johannesburg
  • Le Plessis-Robinson, France