And the Green Design Awards Go To…

They may not have the sensational cachet of Oscar contenders
dolled up in designer duds, but a recent spate of awards have put a
spotlight on a different kind of design — the sustainable kind.
And the real winners are the Earth and ecominded consumers.

On April 26 the Next Generation design competition announced
its 2007 winners. The competition is organized by
the design guru magazine Metropolis and draws together
young designers from myriad fields, such as urban planning,
community building, product design, environmental management, and
housing solutions. Top honors this year went to the Lunar Resonant
Street Lamp from the design group Civil Twilight. In order to
reduce both light pollution and energy consumption, the lamps will
use photo-cells, which work like a dimmer switch, to adjust their
light output in relation to moonlight. So, the romance of moonlit
nights will be saved from glaring streetlights, and the energy grid
(and the environment) will be saved from an unnecessary drain. The
runners-up in the competition were spread across a number of
industries, from LED displays in showers and faucets that monitor
water usage, to new types of highway walls that absorb airborne
pollutants, and plugs and outlets that help conserve energy usage
by regulating electricity while appliances are on standby.

In February the architectural firm organicARCHITECT announced
the winners of its
2007 organicAWARDS, which recognize leaders
in the design industry for their ecoconscious products and
services. This year’s awards highlight a quirky collection of
products, such as the EcoSmart Fire — a small metal box that
uses clean-burning fermented sugarcane to create a bright open
flame that looks more like a futuristic lantern than a
fireplace. The awards also celebrate designers who use
innovative technology to create green products, such as the
Organic Concrete created by e-studio. The permeable surface of
the concrete allows for plant growth while the porous material
is able to retain water and slowly release it over time, which
makes for a green surface even in the dry season.

Far less quirky but equally focused on the environmental impact of
design, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the
Committee on the Environment (COTE) have announced what they
consider the
top ten green projects of the year
. AIA and COTE look not only
at the ecological and social impact of buildings but also at how
these factors influence design. Some of the 2007 winners include
the Artists For Humanity EpiCenter in Boston, whose roof-mounted
array of photovoltaic cells is the largest in the city and provides
renewable energy to the entire building. Another honoree is the Z6
House in Santa Monica, California, which was built with six project
goals: zero waste, zero energy, zero water, zero carbon, zero
emissions, and zero ignorance. One of the most visually striking
projects is the Whitney Water Purification Facility in New Haven,
Connecticut. The building is set into a hill and uses the
temperature of the surrounding ground as a heating and cooling
system. Though the building’s sleek and modern design makes for a
striking contrast with its natural surroundings, ultimately it has
a limited impact on the neighboring ecosystem and the native
wildlife.

Go there >>
The 2007 Next Generation Design Competition
Winners

Go there, too>>
The organicARCHITECT 2007 Green Product
Awards

And there>>
The AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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