The human population of the world has been increasing by leaps and bounds. Doomsayers are envisioning that the planet Earth will soon reach its maximum capacity for bearing life on its surface and self destruct. Provided of course, environmental conditions do not take a nose dive, before that, due to climate warming, and end it all anyway. In the middle of all the naysayer’s pessimistic views, groups of positive thinkers have emerged who have turned to a new discipline in science, which aims to adapt and create new environmental conditions so as to reverse the trend of environmental destruction. Instead positive steps are envisaged, such that, the total impact on human health and the environment of a Product, Process or Service is considered and designed to be safeguarded. The question to be answered, therefore, is: What is Environmental Design?
Environment simply means our surroundings. This can be Biotic / Living Surroundings or Abiotic / Non-living Surroundings. Abiotic things or events are governed by physical, chemical or other laws and forces. Biotic/Living organisms operate under separate laws of the living, which constantly seek to self-improve according to the laws of Nature. Amongst all living beings, only Man is considered to have the gift of consciousness, independent thinking and freedom of decision making. Only Man can actually improve his environment and only Man can destroy it. Environment is therefore both an external and internal fabric that envelops us, and which we need to improve our chances of better living and ultimate survival.
All living organisms try to adapt themselves to their environment, and die out if they fail to adapt. Only Man tries to control his environment and completely redesign it so as to be the master of his own destiny. So, What is Environmental Design? Environmental Design is the science of attempting to gain a better understanding of the surrounding environment, and then to apply that knowledge to design the environment to suit the ultimate goal of improved living and physical surroundings.
Environmental Design of Projects
Any project operates in an environment with which the project interacts. These project environments maybe: Operational, Physical, Ecological, Social, Cultural, Financial, Economic, Organizational and even Psychological.
Major Environmental Design Problems
Some problems have been gradually creeping up on us, as we march towards greater conditioning of our environment to suit our progress. Desertification, Deforestation and loss of Biodiversity have been with us for some time now. Disposal of wastes is becoming a chronic headache. But three physical phenomena which are inter-related and may yet cause the Earth itself severe damage and which are all mostly man-made are Greenhouse Effect, Ozone Depletion and Global Warming. All these problems are now being tackled on a war footing.
Design Action Plan
The EAP (Environmental Action Plan) was launched by the UNO and GGLO, in 2007, to not just to measure but actually decrease any project impact on the environment by the environmental design in key areas, such as, Consumables, Energy and Water use, Transportation, Renovations, Indoor environmental quality and Greenhouse gas emissions.