Designed for service substitution

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Service substitution is a term used to describe a shift in consumption patterns away from personal ownership and use of products to the provision and use of services that offer the same outcome to a large group of people. For example, one bus can make sixty personal car trips unnecessary.


Model train

Model train
Model, styling, Railway Rolling Stock, Tangara Suburban carriage, Timber & Metal, 1970-1980.

Sustainable transport systems make a positive contribution to the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the communities they serve.

Transport systems exist to provide social and economic connections, and people quickly take up the opportunities offered by increased mobility.

Transport systems have significant impacts on the environment, accounting for between 20% and 25% of world energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Road transport is also a major contributor to local air pollution and smog.

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Electric tram

Electric tram
Tram, full size, electric, C-class, No. 11 (later 57S), timber/metal, Hudson Bros, Sydney (body), Peckham Motor Truck & Wheel Co., Kingston, New York, USA (bogies), 1898.

Trams provide a reliable and extremely efficient public transport service that can make car ownership unnecessary.

This tram once worked the main streets of Sydney, drawing power from the Ultimo Power Station, which now houses the Powerhouse Museum.

The reuse of that building, rather than bulldozing it, made great use of all the energy embedded in the structure.

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Double decker bus

Double decker bus
Bus, full size, double-deck, Leyland Titan, OPD2/1, chassis No. 511956, body built by Clyde Engineering Co., Granville, NSW, Australia, 1953.

It’s possible to fit twice as many passengers onto a bus if the bus is a double decker! Each one of these buses could carry at least 80 people so it replaced the need for an awful lot of cars.

For many passengers, the views from the upper deck and the more relaxed ambience there made the awkward climb up the stairs worthwhile. For the conductor, negotiating the stairs many times a day on a lurching bus to collect fares was not easy.

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The Powerhouse Museum has collected examples of design for more than 130 years. This database shows how some items in its collection meet one or more criteria for design for the environment.

Sustainable design database topics:

Designed for easy reuse
Designed for energy efficiency
Designed for service substitution
Designed to be degradable
Designed to last
Designed to minimise packaging
Designed to use recycled materials
Designed to use renewable resources
Designed to use waste by-products


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