• Electrifying Change: Five City Buildings Take the Energy Challenge!

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    By Anaïs Cipriano and Rachel Segrest

    The City of Savannah is known for its beautiful natural elements, and the city’s Office of Environmental Services and Sustainability is doing its part to preserve that beauty. As one example of many, the department is exploring employee competitions, with the goal of creating a sustainability culture among the city work force. This platform was employed for the first time last year with a campaign to reduce recycling in 5 of the city’s buildings. The Thrive Five recycling campaign was a big success.

    Meanwhile, SCAD’s Design for Sustainability department offers a class to advanced M.F.A. students surrounding behavior change as outlined by Dr. Stephen Wendel’s publication, Designing for Behavior Change. The course’s aim is to familiarize students (that’s us) with the ways that habits govern behavior, making us ideal candidates to try our hands at designing a competition pertaining to changing participants’ behaviors.

    This round, the Sustainability department presented our SCAD design team with a new competition idea: to reduce energy consumption among 5 city buildings during the month of March 2017. As Savannah is a historic city, preservation efforts bar some buildings from being as efficient as their contemporary counterparts which heightened the need for human behavior changes to decrease electricity usage as hard infrastructural or physical changes were not options. The five buildings chosen to hold the competition are City Hall, Thomas Gamble, Broughton Municipal, Cultural Affairs, and Development Services.

    Starting with research, we first took stock of the current situation. We visited employees at their workplaces and gathered insights on their experiences while performing separate assessments of the buildings themselves. We needed to figure out infrastructural influences on current habits and behaviors. Next we reviewed case studies on behavior change, paying particular attention to methods that worked and how we could replicate those strategies in our own designs.

    During a presentation to Savannah’s Thrive Committee, our team introduced the idea of what it would mean to reduce current consumption by even 1%. We visualized the impact of reducing electricity by showing how it would affect trees, since Savannah in particular is known for its live oaks.

    To illustrate, if City Hall could decrease consumption by 1% it would be equivalent to planting 263 trees (that would serve to otherwise capture the carbon dioxide created by that electricity production). If each building reduced energy by 1% the results would be as follows: 91 trees for Gamble, 564 trees for Broughton, 192 trees for Development and 74 trees for Cultural Affairs. That’s a lot of trees! And a lot of money saved!

    We finally chose to design a playful competition using a mascot that participants could have fun with. We created stickers with gremlins on them for employees to stick close to areas or devices of high consumption. The idea being, to both share awareness to decrease wasteful use of electricity while staying engaged in the continual process of improving habits.

    The concept is playful, and aims is to break the doldrums of the workday and elicit delight from employees while driving positive behaviors.

    Employees will have to pledge their participation by simply writing their name on a card and dropping it into a dedicated pledge box. The idea of this small action is based upon the notion that small commitments will lead to larger commitments, as described through frameworks such as community based social marketing, or CBSM.

    Additionally, these pledged names will be entered into a lottery at the end of the competition. Each building will have a lottery for a sun therapy lamp. Meanwhile, occupants of the building that achieves the greatest reduction in energy use will be given two additional chances to win larger prizes. These prizes include a solar Bluetooth speaker and a hand crank radio. All prizes are sponsored by Hannah Solar. The competition will be facilitated by Thrive, the City of Savannah’s volunteer-based sustainability group.

  • Reflections of a Design Manager on Sustainability

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    By Hernan David Maestre Piedrahita

    Design is not easy, it requires consistency and passion. It involves an innate desire for change from individuals who see the rough present and believe that their contribution over time will have a positive impact in their context. Designers understand that creative work will always allow improvement, that to pass from invention to innovation we have to endure a diffusion curve that might seem as an uphill battle, that we need a clear vision, a strong project, and key actors for our project to diffuse and be successful.

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  • Are We More Connected Than We Think We Are?

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    By Jingya Zhang

    On Oct. 31, we were excited to make our midterm workshop happen at Gulfstream Center for Design, home to SCAD’s Design Management and Design for Sustainability programs. With the help of the Department of Environmental Services and Sustainability, we were glad to host several department heads and staff members from city government in a midterm workshop. Our goal was to present our research process, generate insights and concepts derived from 3 weeks of interviews with representatives from a dozen city departments, and determine next steps for the remaining five weeks of our course.

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  • A New Take on Affinitization

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    By Gabi Campagna

    After looking into different city case studies regarding sustainability initiatives and department dynamics, it was time for us to begin our primary research. With the help of the Department of Environmental Services and Sustainability, we were able to contact several department heads within the City of Savannah as interview subjects. Our goal in these interviews is to understand the mission and methods of each city department so that we may find areas of convergence and opportunity for sustainably driven departmental collaboration.

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  • Inspiration from other Sustainability Plans

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    By Beki Diaz

    As our first dive into the topic of sustainability, we decided to start by looking at other cities and how they have started to shift to sustainable practices. We chose a diverse range of cities including Atlanta, Charleston and New York. Not only did cities these provide different approaches, they represent the ideals that the City of Savannah’s Office of Environmental Services and Sustainability looks forward to embracing and incorporating. As we start to work with them to find strategies that can help them move forward, a look at these role-model cities was the best way to understand their goals.

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  • Sustainability from a Design Management Perspective

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    By Pilar Moreno-Azcarate

    Three weeks ago we started a journey of understanding and welcoming sustainability into our practice as design managers.

    In our first week of exploration, we discovered that design management methods and sustainability models are very similar; both are based in systemic thinking and in a holistic approach to problems. This is not a coincidence; both emerge from the urgency of changing the way society has been developing. “The Industrial Age has brought extraordinary improvements in public education, human rights, and material wellbeing, but it has also destroyed ecosystems, swallowed up traditional cultures that had thrived for centuries, and created a way of life that cannot continue for much longer” (Peter Senge, 2008). We are shifting to a new era where the only way to bring development to everyone and guarantee a safe future is transforming our paradigm to start a truly sustainable way of living. This implies changes in how businesses project their vision and structure. Business models need to incorporate systemic thinking: “invest seriously and immediately in building a regenerative economy and society that mimics nature as fully as possible” (Peter Senge, 2008).

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  • Taking the Next Sustainable Step

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    By Claire Partlow

    As our ten-week project has drawn to a close, the UST team reflects on what has been a productive and insightful first step into Sustainable Small Business in Savannah. Throughout this project we have endured a rigorous process of ethnographic research and analysis. We also had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing numerous “champions” of sustainability in Savannah. In addition to our research, we hosted three events to gain feedback from key stakeholders. Through our extensive research process, we were able to discover compelling insights that are supported by data.

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  • How Will Our Next Date Look?

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    By Alexis X.A. Roberts

    Insights are indeed the keys to good design: We had heard from our Green Business stakeholders in Savannah that the existing social events geared toward sustainability in town had grown unfruitful, and a little stale. We responded to this with a Green Speed Dating event. To be clear, we weren’t actually trying to have our Green Business Owners date one another. Instead, this event was meant to introduce our stakeholders to a new way of approaching the existing social landscape of Savannah’s Small Green Business network. Our Green Speed Dating was intended to stimulate conversations around future plans, and around the idea that innovative collaborations between businesses can create the right conditions to nurture those plans.

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  • Keys to Meaning + Good Design

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    - A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

    by Alexis X.A. Roberts

    Insights are the keys to design that are meaningful and compelling. We shared some of these insights with a number of pioneers of Green Business in Savannah to gather more input during our midterm presentation and workshop. Now the challenge was to bring our original insights and these newly discovered ones together to inform our next step. We had just over a weekend to make them come to life but we ended up with something exciting which you’ll read about in a later post. Here’s a little bit about the journey we took to get there.

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  • We’re All In This Together

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    By Claire Partlow

    We live in a world of interconnected systems. Each seemingly insignificant decision you make has a ripple effect of varying consequences that affect other systems. According to scientist and author Donella Meadows, “a system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. A system must consist of three things: elements, interconnections and a function or purpose” 

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