Sustainia, an ambitious initiative by Project Green Light to present a virtual realization of a truly sustainable world, was launched March 7 at the University of Geneva by Arnold Schwarzenegger and European Climate Chief Connie Hedegaard. The launch saw the release of a gorgeous, vivid book, chock-full of handy sustainability-related infographics both about the history of environmentalism, notable current sustainable projects, and the future implications of eco-friendly living. Through collaboration with designers, this book will soon be accompanied by additional virtual representations of how our lives could be transformed by widespread adoption of sustainable practices. If that isn’t enough excitement, Sustainia also plans to establish an award they describe as a “Nobel prize for sustainable development.”
Body-building former Governors of California aside, the initiative has enormous industry star-power behind it; design firm Knoll and architecture favorites BIG have teamed up with heavy hitters such as General Electric and Microsoft, who with a number of companies, organizations and leaders form Project Green Light, the collective who crafted the vision of Sustainia. Additionally, the initiative has backing from the United Nations global compact, and will be featured at Rio+20, the United Nation’s Conference on Sustainable Development to take place this June.
In describing the initiative to The Guardian, Connie Hedegaard explained the reasoning behind the energetic presentation of how we could live in a more sustainably developed world as soon as 2020: “Many people do not want to give up what they know because they fear that if we get away from business as usual, we will go to a grey and uninteresting life. But we can show that doesn’t have to be – we can create cities where there is cleaner air, where people have better transport and nice houses to live in. Showing that vision is very important.”
The 1st edition of the “Guide to Sustainia” was released with the launch of the initiative. As the project expands and more designers contribute, the book, which is available as a PDF download, will be added to. In its current first edition, it cleanly presents succinct, practical information on sustainable practices we could all adopt, from using recycled building materials to switching to LED bulbs, while providing a clear presentation of exactly what a sustainable home could look like.
Packed with short, snappy sustainability-related quotes from an array of figures, from Barack Obama to Economist Trevor Houser to Author Antoine de Saint Exupery, it’s a remarkably accessible, broad ranging educational document. In its early pages, however, it might perhaps be trying a little too hard to state it’s case. It’s entirely understandable that as part of an admirable push to promote sustainability the branding minds at Project Green Light world suggest that we move to a towards a more clear positive, less technical language for understanding green practices, utilizing buzz-phrases such as “energy freedom” and away from terms such as “cap-and-trade.” But under the heading “Speaking Sustainian,” in ” Sustainia… a place — a world — where we have decided to live life to the fullest. Where quality of life is what matters. It’s a desirable place. A place you would want to go, if you knew about it. Once there, you would want to stay, make a life for yourself and your family,” the thoroughly admirable, well laid out message starts to feel more than a little awkward.
Over-zealous scene-setting aside, it’s a pretty fantastic document, and we’ll be watching to see how the initiative grows, and to see what Project Green Light present at Rio+20.
Via The Guardian