The Designer's Accord


At this year’s AIGA’s Compost Modern event I was really excited to be introduced to The Designer’s Accord, “a coalition of designers, educators, researchers, engineers, business consultants, and corporations, who are working together to create positive environmental and social impact.” Originally referred to as the “Kyoto Treaty of Design,” the coalition was formed by designer, Valerie Casey of IDEO as a collective way to increase intelligence about sustainability within the business community.

To join the Accord, you must follow the coalition’s guidelines of:
1. Do no harm;
2. Communicate and collaborate;
3. Keep learning, keep teaching;
4. Instigate meaningful change;
5. Make theory action

Depending on your level of involvement in the coalition, your specific guidelines for upholding these 5 main guidelines are different. Members are divided into 3 categories: Adopters (design firms, corporations, educational institutions), Supporters (artists, freelance designers, students) or Endorsers (organizations).

For example, the guidelines for “Design Firm Adopters” are:
1. Publicly declare participation in the Designers Accord.
2. Initiate a dialogue about environmental impact and sustainable alternatives with each and every client. Rework client contracts to favor environmentally responsible design and work processes. Provide strategic and material alternatives for sustainable design.
3. Undertake a program to educate your teams about sustainability and sustainable design.
4. Measure the carbon/greenhouse gas footprint of your firm (includes operations and client engagements), and pledge to reduce your footprint annually.
5. Advance the understanding of environmental issues from a design perspective by contributing actively to the communal knowledge base for sustainable design.

It’s great to see that as more people take an interest and are more informed about the environment and the impact we have upon it, that green practices within the design field are finally being seen as mandatory vs. being optional. The Designer’s Accord is a great place where designers can educate themselves and find tools to educate their clients about what “being green” in our field really means.

There’s a great article in Business Week about Casey and the Accord here. An interview with founder, Valerie Casey about how the Accord came to be created can also be found here.