Gallery: Green Design Predictions for 2013

Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian Founders of the Land Art Generator Initiative, Directors of Studied Impact Design

With the consequences of 2012's severe weather events fresh in our collective memory, and yet having survived the momentous transition to the next Mayan b'ak'tun, we will begin 2013 with renewed focus on the real climate change threat to the stability of our planet. Designers will respond ever more directly to the challenges (opportunities) of the fossil fuel divestment and environmental justice movements, and show the world that it is possible to keep 4/5 of our proven reserves in the ground and further decouple GDP from fossil fuel consumption.

The expansion of the WindMade™ eco-label into other renewables will help to bring about a universal consumer awareness movement, making low-carbon retail goods as ubiquitous as certified organic foods. Cradle to Cradle® and similar certifications will make serious inroads into consumer goods at big box stores (such as pet products and kids' toys), and integrated solar chargers will appear on many more items that would otherwise rely on disposable batteries.

Contemporary design manifestations on pre-industrial (low-energy) ideas will surface. For example, features like root cellars (a natural progression of the local food movement), yakhchal (ancient passive cooling system), and winter gardens (fresh food year-round) may become more prevalent in sleek new residential architecture.

Concentrated photovoltaic multijunction cells will leap past the 50% threshold of efficiency in the lab, and low carbon organic thin films will see groundbreaking efficiency gains and production cost savings, bringing the price per installed watt and payback periods down to levels that will create an historic tipping point.

Based on our experience this past year with LAGI 2012, we can safely predict that university art and design programs will more and more utilize interdisciplinary curricula that combine design with low-carbon engineering innovation.

Crowd-source funding and amortized purchase of renewable energy will continue to grow and we will see an outbreak of renewable energy cooperatives springing up to power neighborhoods. New innovative design solutions will emerge for the aesthetic integration of renewable energy infrastructure into the city and agricultural landscape.

In general, we are very optimistic about the trends for green design. We are encouraged every day by our interactions with innovative designers who are thinking holistically about permaculture and living solutions that can continue to raise our standard of living smartly and in harmony with our natural environment.

Bill McKibben Environmentalist, Green Journalist, President and Co-Founder of

I think there’s actually a chance 2013 will be a significant year in climate history — the year when the planet’s leaders actually ran out of excuses for their inaction. We’re seeing record temperatures, record melting, record storms, record everything: it’s clearly not the same world we thought it was even a few years ago. But we’re also finally seeing record dissent. In the U.S. for instance, students on more than 190 campuses are fighting to demand the divestment of stocks in fossil fuel companies. They’ve peeled back the layers of the onion — they’re not demanding new lightbulbs, they’re demanding systemic changes in the balance of power, trying to weaken the forces of the radical status quo, the ones systematically altering the chemistry of the atmosphere.

It’s a hard fight, of course, because those forces are led by the richest industry on earth — the oil, coal, and gas tycoons. So I don’t predict the outcome. Only that the choice for the powerful is going to get harder almost by the week, if we keep building the movements we need to build. We’re not as powerful as Exxon yet, but we’re closer than we used to be, which is the only good news I can think of.

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  1. triffids January 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I enjoyed the predictions but there is a huge component missing. There seem to be no predictions that include addressing the biggest green thing – the existing plants and biodiversity and design that includes enhancing or protecting this biodiversity. The closest to even mentioning the word plant is the prediction by Ferry and Monoian concerning pre-industrial (low energy) ideas. Perhaps 2013 will not see the recognition that all life needs plants and that is why this basic green sustainability component is not listed.

  2. report from the heartland January 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Someone has to start evaluating everything by embodied energy and the impact on wildlife, plant and animal. A \”recycled\” material here, a bike there: nice, but unless we are made to pay the true cost of the way we live bye-bye birdies… and us.

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