[ 5] Slaughter, R. A.
and the Politics of
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[ 6] Nathan, L.P.,
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[ 7] Taylor, N. Urban
Planning Theory Since
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 Dunne, A., and F.
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[ 9] Friedman, B.,
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2.0., Value Sensitive
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[ 10] International
July + August 2009
[ 11] Petersen, J.E., et al.,
Exposed to Real-time
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Journal of Sustainability
in Higher Education, 8
sensitive design research [ 4]. Focusing on each
dimension through Envisioning Cards can scaffold problem solving around complex challenges
such as environmental sustainability.
The current set of Envisioning Cards is a work
in progress [ 9]. Beta 2. 1 consists of 30 3.5x5.5-
inch cards. The card includes the title of a concept on one side and an evocative image on the
other. The text side includes a brief description
and an activity to assist a design team in considering that particular concept in relation to
their design project. The design team determines
when to use the cards in the design process, how
much time to spend with them, which cards to
use, and how to use them (e.g., stimulate initial
brainstorming, develop scenarios, craft product
requirements, conduct focus groups, engage in
Individuals working within a short development cycle may feel daunted when attempting to
envision how the design they are working with
might encourage future cultural shifts. The card
set includes a two-minute sand timer that serves
to alleviate this pressure, suggesting that even in
a short period, the cards can go some distance in
stimulating creative solutions.
The cards help designers grapple with the
following questions: Might stakeholders’ other
values conflict with their concern for environmental sustainability (e.g., the desire to accumulate cutting-edge technologies versus reducing
consumption)? How might the environmental
influence of a design shift as the tool becomes
pervasive within and across societies (e.g., laptops use less energy than a desktop machine,
but overtime proliferation leads to more toxic
batteries in landfills)? On the previous page are
examples from the Envisioning Card set, demonstrating how the cards can assist in engaging the
issue of environmental sustainability.
We readily acknowledge that the Envisioning
Cards do not address extremely difficult questions. For example, will the material and energy
costs of creating and maintaining a “green” computing design throughout the design’s life cycle
be greater than the benefits? That said, the cards
can help designers and policy makers consider
complex, environmentally oriented design challenges, and begin to address specifics such as
functionality requirements, compatibility issues,
and context of use.
Energy use, for most of us, is hidden and poorly
understood. In large organizations such as university or corporate campuses, people consume
a considerable amount of energy through their
technologies, buildings, and activities. But how
much and to what effect?
Hundreds of universities around the world
have signed declarations at major environmental
conferences, promising to reduce their institutions’ carbon footprints as well as promote sustainability within their educational and social
missions. At the University of Washington, we
are developing the Community Energy Platform
so that a wide spectrum of stakeholders can
use data on energy consumption, including student designers/researchers, facilities engineers,
environmental activists, and artists. We seek to
enable people to engage with the concept of energy on their own terms, with their own projects.
The platform is a Web-based system, consisting of four main components: 1. A data service
for storing and accessing time series data on
energy consumption and other related data
(campus population changes, daily temperature, and luminosity readings, among others); 2.
Applications for making sense of the data, which
will be deployed on Web pages, desktop computers, social networking sites; 3. Online environments for civic inquiry and deliberation, which
make use of the applications; and 4. Policies for
steering the platform’s evolution at the university over the long term.
At the University of Washington, a network
of electricity meters was installed in the 1990s,
with meters connected to more than 200 main
campus buildings. The problem is the data has
remained largely sequestered within the facilities department. With the Community Energy
Platform, the data will become a public resource
for creating presentations that allow the exploration and scrutiny of electricity consumption.
However, even when readily available in the
public sphere, graphic presentations of energy use,
such as real-time readings, daily and weekly time
series, and yearly demand-curve summaries, are
not likely to improve the community’s knowledge
of energy use, much less support desired changes
in human values and actions. Such presentations
tend to be abstract, technical and large scale, useful to specialists but mysterious to lay people.