By Architect Marco Capellini
In recent years the significance of the term “sustainability” has been articulated to include, beyond an environmental component, also an economic and social one.
From the improvement of environmental performance in the productive process with the introduction of “clean” technology, one has passed on to minimizing the environmental impact of a product throughout all the phases of its lifecycle, and arrived at a broad and dynamic vision which is long-lasting and oriented to-ward the innovation of the system: the Design for Sustainability (DfS).
It is a design approach finalized with the development of product innovation and/or service in terms of reconciling environmental with economic and social stability. A new product or service shouldn’t irreversibly alter the conditions of equilibrium of the ecosystem, and it should increase social well-being in that it reduces iniquity and contextually generate a consistent and enduring value, aimed at the consumers and businesses. One can’t think about creating an eco-efficient product, reducing the environmental impact through the use of recycled, natural and renewable materials, and produce them through the use of juvenile labor, not respecting the standards of safety of the work-environment and the human rights of the workers. In the same manner it would not be economically feasible to create an eco-compatible product which would not be capable of remunerating its capital investment in a congruous mode.
The “Design for Sustainability” is founded on the idea of rendering a product “sustainable” by improving environmental, social and economic performance through the innovation not only in products and services, but also in methods of work, in behaviour and in systems of entrepreneurial management. It must aid the businesses to design products with low environmental impact, low-energy intensity, from materials and waste, to improve the work conditions and the business culture while increasing productivity, competitiveness, long-term profitability and not least of all, the satisfaction of the consumer.
The objective is to reduce the risks tied to work exploitation, to improve employee motivation, to increase the value of the brand and the market reputation, to satisfy the demand of the consumer who is becoming ever more attentive and responsible, to guarantee the quality, reliability and safety of a product, to rationalize the environmental costs and as a result the economic ones, to initiate a virtual society oriented toward innovation and new solutions, to respect and occasionally anticipate environmental legislation.
The results achieved through the application of the “Design for Sustainability” principles must be accompanied by a direct communication, transparent and complete in confrontation with all the interested parties: shareholders, institutional investors, insurance companies, non-governmental organizations, public administrations, and above all consumers.
New products must speak to us and tell us their story. The consumer must be able to “knowingly” choose and evaluate a product through its functionality, form and colour but also through its “sustainable” identity.