Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An "A-B-C-D Approach to Making Better Products" - a report

The Greening of Design, from A to D

I wonder if I should have used such as this when developing the RE:tie?


48 pages. Wow.

I used to present logos by holding 'em up and saying 'Here it is'. Then I got wise and added the document with all the blurb on the why, who, where... etc. The latter seemed to get a better hit rate, and oddly no one ever asked if the consumer would ever be issued with this information as the delivery van zipped by.

It seems a shame that in this day and age that, without a lot of process, product is now seldom going to be the driver, no matter how pertinent.

Wouldn't it be nice to get back, at least a little, to the old aircraft designers' adage that 'if it looks right; it'll fly right'.

Another one bites the dust!

We are talking about another Labour Party environmental pledge that was even included in a Government White Paper commitment.

It was "one of just five official Labour Party environmental pledges" announced by David Milliband when he was Environment Secretary. But now, "the little clip-ons which you can attach, and which vividly reveal how much electricity you waste by leaving the iron on when doing something else, or when running the spin-dryer on a sunny day" have gone the way of so many other environmental initiatives that have turned out to be little more than hot air or spin.

Full report is from the Telegraph.

Another abysmal failure, or perhaps, to try to put a more +ve spin on it, a tremendous piece of successful ineptitude? Boy, am I glad I wasn't one of the poor businesses that threw everything into manufacturing these devices. I wonder if they'll be able to claim against the failure to follow through an "Environmental Pledge"? My guess? No chance! Because any 'pledge' coming from a Pol means absolutely sweet Fanny Adams!

The mouths of those who teach our babes...

We'd love to go green. But who's going to pay for the solar panels?

'We'd love to go green. But who's going to pay...'

Sort that little one out across the board, and I think we have the whole issue covered.

Certainly those who can afford to pay quitting lambasting those who cannot would seem a good start.

There's also the not insignificant factor in making sure that one has a good handle on what is 'green' and whatever you pay to go there is best directed. Assuming the aim is to improve the future for our kids and not just tick the odd box.

It seems astounding to me that there is not centralised research and purchasing on this by government departments to ensure the best product for the job is sourced (Ok, I am ignoring history), and in volumes to generate highly beneficial costs (and, again).

Like so much in the environmental arena, our government seems excellent at lobbing around silly targets that it cannot meet itself, and then making it up to anyone but itself to solve the messes they have created.

And the lack of joined up thinking evidenced by the reduced transport diktat, going hand in hand with increased needs to travel all round, is breathtaking.

Wait for me!

Like so many posts of this nature, the way the question is phrased seems rather designed to give the answer one wants.

Give your colleagues a lift
Would you risk the early-morning conversation of your work colleagues in order to reduce your impact on the planet?

Were it only a matter of enduring a deconstruction of last night's putting a ball in the other sides net or what who said to who about what that is just, like, soooooo unreal.

For many of us, especially not living in an urban ideal, the bus or train may not be a real option, at least within a reasonable timeframe. Ditto cycling, and I find it just so cute how this admirable form of personal transport is so often gaily mentioned with none of the actual downsides. Doing a day's work soaked to the skin is hardly a pleasure.

Hence driving may well still be the only practical means to get to work on time, and in a fit state to carry out one's job, which I think to be fair goes a bit beyond just seeking 'comfort and convenience'.

Hence sharing does very much make sense. However, before scooting off on yet another 'why are you all so beastly to the planet?' tirade, one has to again look at certain practical issues.

While mutual start times are more predictable (hence the rush hour jams), and hence matches easily made, I do often wonder about the return. I've never worked 9 to 5 (and am now a happy..ish homeworker), but what happens when Mr. Brent asks you to stay back 30 minutes to finish off the report. 3 cheerful co-jaunters dodging wardens in the bus layby, relishing the chance to catch up on more Chris Evans?

The notion of a 'day' to address this is both laudable but also in danger of coming across as a bit more like the other 364 we get each year to raise awareness of this or that (it's currently a recycling week, apparently - which might explain the 20 press releases on £200 home furnishings I am getting 'in celebration of'). I hope it works, but do wonder if it's more for a bit of a PR/slow news media mutually-assured back-patting than really addressing the issue.

What I am more interested in is the mechanisms of the matchmaking services there are, how they can be coordinated better to complement local authority systems, and how the power of the web, IT and personal comms might be harnessed to better engage those out there who are not, for possibly selfish but also often highly understandable reasons.

Ugly truths

It was only after a while in my Civ. Eng. training that I realised an ugly truth.

Foundations are the most important aspect of any project. They take the most time, cost the most money.... but once the mostly trivial, pretty, above-ground bits are in place, few will even know they are there.

Well, unless they fail.

I was minded of this by an article about a US windfarm that is all nicely in place, but essentially delivering very poorly on its promise, by virtue of there being no infrastructure for it to deliver what it generates.

It's a sorry metaphor for so much I see in matters mega-green these days. Loads and loads of cash and attention given to high-profile, high-vis symbols of 'solutions', but very little thought it seems given to the highly necessary preceding infrastructures that these need to rest upon to actually deliver meaningful deliverables.

And why should there be, when targets, votes and subsidies seem to revolve around the pretty facades rather than any substance below.

Greenbang - Texas ponders its ‘thousands’ of idle wind farms

BBC - Wind power supply to be boosted

I just hope that this is part of a genuine attempt to deliver renewable energy to a positive enviROI, and not some box-ticking, target-meeting effort. I write this looking at a piece on a wind farms in Texas that make mighty purty lookin' twirly doo-dads, but are not, as such connected to anything as the visible, sexy bits were stuck up first, with little thought to unsexy infrastructure. And for the life of me I still cannot understand (though suspect and dread) why such reports use terms such as 'could' and 'hoped'. Don't they blooming well know???! This aspect interests me a lot more than 'controversy' over the odd shredded seagull.