Sustainable Virtual Design Advances in Triumph Everywhere

Since the beginning of 2012, more and more hits on “sustainable web design” have appeared in the media. Here some noteworthy developments:

How Earth-Friendly is Your Smartphone? AT&T Wants to Know:

According the the Mashable article, and the AT&T video, this year will see the launch of a cellphone Eco-Rating, imprinted on each device sold. The ratings will include sourcing of material, as well (interesting to us) energy efficiency.

The same post references a slideshow showing rising consumer awareness of the “green-ness” of electronic devices. In time, they’ll also be looking for “energy star” ratings on their favorite websites.

Deloitte Survery on Green Consumers

We’re starting to see web design shops list “sustainable web design” as what they do…

Sustainable Web Design – Philadelphia Web Design Press Release

“Sustainability is the backbone of the structure of their business, their client base, and their design strategies. Significant changes have taken place for Philadelphia’s sustainable web designand branding firm, formerly named Web-Wis-dom..”

GWis Concepts

BretGlassett – Eco-Friendly and Green Web Development

Yoke Design Studio

At present, the green-ness of these web design shops is in the “Green Office”, and the (intentional) lifestyle of the founders and employees. Web designers are just starting to think about how web design, as a medium, can be itself sustainable. So it’s wide open – anyone should feel free to join and collaborate on the idea of sustainable web (and other virtual) design!

And finally, a discussion of the relative “green-ness” of print versus digital design – I suppose this is a case of the Empire striking back for some:

Print versus Digital

And a study on paper versus digital (by a newspaper) finds print is sometimes greener:

Here’s the actual study report from Alma Media (uses strange left-hand accordion-style menu, so play around)

Alma Media Environmental Study

The page above has a great graph, showing online impacts certain areas more than print (e.g. water). Online impacts are correctly cited as relative to use time.

Print versus Digital, environmental costs, from a study by Alma Media
Print Versus Digital for a newspaper in Finland
Another discussion of the relative “green-ness” of print versus digital:
And another:
Don  Carli at the Institute for Sustainable Communication may be a bit “paper-centric”, but its good to see ANY recognition that the digital “dematerialization” is not automatically green.
Finally, we’re getting some evidence for the digital world not being “weightless” – and the need for sustainable design principles to be applied to virtual products as well as to the physical.

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