kristin chapman

Creative Bleed Archive



Back in April, I had a post on sustainability in Graphic Design, you can read that here. Re-nourish is a non-prof, I highlighted as a tool for designers looking for resources and roadmaps for incorporating sustainability into the design process. In October Re-nourish launched the Sustainable Design Auditing Project which not only provides guidelines and resources for sustainability in design but brings legitimacy. We all need to make lifestyle changes and design dictates lifestyle. I look forward to learning more about Re-nourish SDAP and hope to share. Check out the press release below to find out more. k

"Sustainable graphic design resource Re-nourish launches the Sustainable Design Auditing Project (SDAP) to develop open-source metrics for measuring the environmental, social and economic impacts of the graphic design supply chain."

October 25, 2010 – San Francisco, CA – Re-nourish, together with partner organizations including the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), has launched the Sustainable Design Auditing Project (SDAP), a public process to develop open-source metrics for measuring the environmental, social and economic impacts of the graphic design supply chain. The multi-stakeholder process is intended to provide companies, designers, and their clients with a more accurate, transparent way to manage sustainable decision-making across projects, organizations, and the entire field.

The need for transparency in a changing industry

Even as the pulp and paper industry begins to identify best practices and more sustainable operational strategies, it nevertheless faces certain limitations in terms of infrastructure, best practices, and supply chain communication. A key element of its supply chain, designers are facing a dramatic shift as well, as they grapple with a long-term dependence on designing commodity materials. With climate change and conventional resource extraction now recognized globally as a legitimate threat to human development, everyone is rethinking their approach to production, consumption and disposal. It's estimated that up to 80% of a product's environmental footprint is determined at the design stage, positioning this industry's supply chain as a critical driver of change.

Re-nourish contends that designers, along with their suppliers and clients, must be able to measure the on-the-ground impacts of their work on individuals, communities, biological environments, and economies. “Without real numbers to back up sustainable design theories,” says Re-nourish Partner and Outreach Lead Eric Benson, “our best efforts end up nothing more than a best guess. SDAP will finally bring designers and their suppliers to the same table in the interest of transparency.”

Metrics vs. standards

The organization is quick to point out that outcomes-based metrics differ significantly from the concept of standards. Whereas standards often establish one-size-fits-all practices, metrics measure performance in any given context, and can be used to identify and compare outcomes, and inform operational decision-making. Many industries, including food and agriculture, building and construction, and the private sector in general are already developing universal metrics that serve as the building blocks for honest, accurate discussion of social and environmental impact. SDAP will consider these other systems to reduce redundant efforts across the industry and encourage a more cooperative approach to strengthen the entire design supply chain.

A transparent, inclusive process

As certification schemes continue to multiply both within the design field and without, SDAP sets itself apart by focusing on four main tenets to ensure legitimacy and credibility: multi-stakeholder engagement, a public input and review process, full transparency and disclosure, and the consideration of other credible metrics systems. While Re-nourish is facilitating the process, SDAP will be led by a multi-stakeholder steering committee that will include the private sector (equipment and paper suppliers, for example), working designers (including freelancers, design firms and in-house designers), academia, and environmental nonprofits and NGOs.

The steering committee will oversee a general assembly that will be open to the public, allowing for ample public review and commenting opportunities. A full website is in development to house details about participants and general progress, but anyone interested in
participating can sign up by visiting

While specific metrics remain to be determined through the SDAP process, general impact areas to be addressed include environmental impacts (e.g. energy, water, GHG emissions, toxicity levels), social impacts (e.g. labor and employment, health and safety, community development), and economic impacts (e.g. productivity, profitability, local investment). At a time when the design field is undergoing intense self-scrutiny and business in general is grappling with how best to integrate sustainability from an operational standpoint, SDAP is uniquely poised to ground the conversation and help companies – including individual designers – make better decisions.

About Re-nourish
Re-nourish is a not-for-profit project that helps graphic designers and their supply chain make their work more sustainable. As the industry’s first free and independent online toolkit for sustainable graphic design, features a waste reduction and footprint calculator for design projects, searchable greener printer and paper directories, how-tos and educational resources, and inspirational case studies.

About the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada
Since 1956, the GDC has been an advocate, voice and resource for Canada's graphic design profession. The member-based organization is a national certified body of graphic designers promoting high standards of visual design and ethical business practices for the benefit of Canadian industry, commerce, public service and education.

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