Good design results in products and services well suited for the function and length of time for which they are needed. Very good design also ensures that the product also has minimal impact on the environment. Such ‘ecodesign’ or design for the environment involves careful decisions about every aspect of product development, distribution and use. It aims to:

  • reduce the amount of material used
  • reduce the amount of energy consumed during production and use
  • reduce production and/or use of toxic materials
  • enhance material recyclability and component reuse
  • maximise sustainable use of renewable resources
  • extend product durability where appropriate
  • increase the service component of goods and services

For designers and manufacturers there are may choices to be made.

Often the answers are not clear-cut or compromises must be made on one choice to make superior ecological savings on another. Choices are important for consumers too. By buying products that are designed with the environment in mind, we increase demand for such products. This stimulates further research, development, and innovation to deliver products at competitive prices.

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.

Browse the topics on the right to enter the sustainable design database.