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Resource & Model – The Natural Edge Project’s Whole System Design Education & Training suite is now publically online!

Posted in Models, Research by Ferne Edwards on October 19th, 2007

There are now 10 Units of The Natural Edge Program‘s (TNEP) Whole-Systems-Design Education and Training Package freely downloadable from:

The message below has been forwarded from Mike Smith, The Natural Edge Project.
The purpose of the Whole System Design Suite is to provide introductory technical design based teaching material to demonstrate how advances in energy, materials and water efficiency can be achieved through applying a Whole System Approach to Sustainable Design. Whole System Approaches for designing buildings, cars, cities, industry plants, motors, farming and agriculture, and lighting systems are increasingly being seen as the key to the most cost effective reduction in negative environmental impacts. Whole System Approaches to Sustainable Design can help to achieve 75 percent (Factor 4) or greater eco- efficiency savings in new designs. This is because “by the time the design for most human artifacts is completed but before they have actually been built, about 80-90 percent of their life-cycle economic and ecological costs have already been made inevitable.” Newly designed buildings and technologies often have long design lives hence it is critical that all designers ensure that their new designs are as sustainable as possible. Hence it is now widely acknowledged that all designers – engineers, architects, industrial designers and urban planners – need to become more educated and skilled in how to implement Whole System Approaches to Sustainable Design.

Whole System Design Approaches can also assist to achieve large eco-efficiency savings in existing built environment and industrial technical systems. This was also one of the conclusions of the Australian Federal Government’s 5-year Energy Efficiency Best Practice (EEBP) program, run by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. Take for instance motor systems that are used in almost every industry. The EEBP program found that a Whole System Approach to optimising industrial motor driven applications, when coupled with best practice motor management, can deliver energy savings of between 30-60 percent.

Units 1-5 of this new Whole System Design Suite outlines in detail how to implement a Whole System Approach to Sustainable Design. The first 5 units show how the operational elements of a Whole System Approach to Sustainable Design enhance a traditional approach to Design.

Units 6-10 of this Whole System Design Suite focus on demonstrating, through worked examples, the application of a Whole System Design Approach to the following common systems: industrial pumping systems, passenger vehicles, electronics and computer systems, temperature control of buildings, domestic water systems.

This package distills the key lessons we have learnt from leading sustainability design experts such as Amory and Hunter Lovins, Bill McDonough, Ernst Von Weisacker, Adjunct Professor Alan Pears, Dr Janis Birkeland, Dr John Todd, Geoff Andrews and many others.

This package is new in a number of ways. For the first time it
a) Provides fully worked technical calculations to demonstrate the benefits of a Whole System Approach to Sustainable Design. (Units 6-10)
b) Provides a clear description of an rationale for the 10 key operational elements of undertaking a Whole System Approach to Sustainable Design (Units 3,4 and 5)
c) Shows how a Whole System Approach to Sustainable Design enhances traditional Systems Engineering Design approaches/frameworks taught in mainstream engineering university courses. (Units 2 and 3)

Hence we hope this new package (freely available online) will greatly assist the mainstreaming of sustainable design into the education and practice of all engineers across all engineering disciplines. This package has already been incorporated into the ANU 2nd year Engineering “Systems Design” course, thanks to the leadership of ANU academic Dr Paul Compston. TNEP will be running a workshop on this new package at the Australian Association of Engineering Educators conference in December in Melbourne in late 2007.

The Natural Edge Project

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