Designing a more sustainable future

The capitalistic nature of modern, Western culture often makes it seem like society is driven mostly by things. Owning things, buying things, talking about things. What happens when the goods we run after keep ripping resources off of our planet and they never replenish? Where would product creationend? How can we create our goods more sustainably? These are the kinds of questions that ran through the minds of a group of Design Students at OCAD back in 2011. Lead by Mike Lovas, they created Sustainable.TO, a grass-roots initiative lead by students to encourage open-mindedness, cross-pollination, and nimble response to creating sustainable, less impactingarchitectural designs for the future.

As Joel Anderson, a founding member of Sustainable.TO and now the Environmental Designer, puts it “I often found there to be a disconnect between the projects we work on in our studios and work happening in the real world.” This disparity and the lack of reality embedded are quite scary. To bridge this gap and to encourage student designers to be more eco friendly, Sustainable.TO created the Sustainable Design Awards (SDA).

This year marks the 6th annual SDA program and is open to all post-secondary students and recent graduates in Ontario. Designs can be submitted individually or as groups. The three categories are City + Shelter, Products + Tools and Social InnovationRegistration is now open — submissions are accepted until June 6th.

The designs will be judged by a jury of professionals in the sustainable design sector. The award ceremony will be held late September and will include a panel discussion and a formal presentation of the 2016 SDA winners. The winners will also receive cash prizes and a short list of the designs will be displayed in a gallery in September.

In addition to hosting the SDAs, Sustainable.TOconducts their own research to improve architectural designs, adhering to the core principles of energy-efficiency, health, and cost-effectiveness, often collaborating with the community on local, national and international scales. Their currently ongoing projects, in collaboration with many other local initiatives, can be found on the Sustainable.to website.

Semini is a graduate of the Environment and Resource Studies program at the University of Waterloo and a former A\J editorial intern.

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