LEED sustainable certification for data centers…but no WEED for software, much less DEED for design!


The following press release reminds us that Sustainable Virtual Design, and it largest component, Sustainable Web Design, are going to need more work by designers and developers. Sustainability has to become part of design, or, as Nate Shedroff says, “Design is the Problem”. Designers have to create efficient design, coders need to swap “green” libraries for bloatware, and it all needs to be part of a formal certification process.

But in the present, we’re missing the tools, certification, and methodology to certify a website as “sustainable”, even as we move forward on sustainable Internet hardware. So, I’ve grabbed a “green webhost” description and tried to map it to Sustainable Virtual Design.
Case in Point – data centers are rapidly going “green”, and using standard LEED certification already applied to interior design and architecture to do so. This article discusses how

http://www.pingzine.com/equinix-recognized-for-green-data-center-design-17595/

Telling quote:

LEED was developed by USGBC in 2000 and provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. It takes into account factors such as energy savings, water efficiency and CO2 emissions reduction.

Let’s try to translate this to the various things we do in the virtual world, with a hypothetical “WEED” certification process for web development, implemented by an imaginary W5C agency.

Warning: WEB DEVELOPMENT hypothetical!

WEED was developed by the Web/Interactive design community at W5C in 2012 and provides site creators and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green use of HTML, CSS, efficient JavaScript and server libraries, effective code re-use, ongoing Web Performance monitoring and optimization tools, and maintenance solutions, all ensuring long-term viability. It takes into account factors such as CPU and power reduction at the client and server level, efficient coding and HTML markup, efficient use of design tools in a “green” office, and results in a “CO2 footprint” for a website which may be used to move to ongoing CO2 emissions reduction.

Now, lets try to write the equivalent for design, with a hypothetical “DEED” certification process…

Warning: WEB DESIGN hypothetical!

DEED was developed by the Web design community at W5C in 2012 and provides visual designers, layout artists, and creative directors with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green use of design principles, layouts, color theory, type and user experience, as well as a standard for evaluating designs at an early stage in terms of sustainability. This ensures long-term viability of design, and avoids the “greenwash bloatware” trap many eco-sites fall into. It takes into account such factors as the difference between layout tools such as Adobe CS and coded web pages, promotes direct “prototyping in code”, at the earliest level of design, ensuring that designs are completed quickly and effectively. This lowers the “embodied energy of design”, and contributes to a “green office” strategy at design shops. The product is a lower “CO2 footprint” for a web design project, which can be used as an ongoing guide to increase design sustainability.

Don’t like these? Submit your own! It would be great if the design and developer community sat up and started writing their own mission statements for sustainability that were more than pious riding of bicycles to work. Design itself needs to be sustainable, not just the designer.

Now, moving on, let’s see if we can translate other parts of this document. Here’s the original:

Specific achievements highlighted as part of the LEED Certification include:

  • 100 percent reduction of potable water for sewage conveyance through the capture and reuse of rainwater ― meeting USGBC’s exemplary performance requirement
  • 78 percent of on-site generated construction waste diverted from landfill
  • Use of up to 98 percent of the building’s existing structural elements (walls, floors, and roofs) — the LEED Gold Certification required a minimum of 55 percent of elements be reused
  • Overall energy cost savings of 22.24 percent*

For WEED certification (front and back-end development):

Warning: WEB DEVELOPMENT hypothetical!

Specific achievements highlighted as part of the WEED Certification include:

  • 100 percent one-size fits all JavaScript libraries with smaller, efficient equivalents (see MicroJS for examples) ― meeting W5C’s exemplary performance requirement
  • 78 percent reduction of prototype rewrites via efficient reuse of existing libraries and frameworks
  • Targeted content delivery of 98 percent of the site in formats appropriate to featurephones and older browsers — the WEED Gold Certification required a minimum of 55 percent of elements be reused
  • The overall reduction of the site’s carbon footprint was 22.24 percent between early prototypes and final launch

FOR DEED certification (design and UX):

Warning: WEB DESIGN hypothetical!

Specific achievements highlighted as part of the WEED Certification include:

  • 100 percent reduction of design tools not created specifically for web design – avoiding wasteful re-mappings of wireframes and page comps to the fnal site ― meeting W5C’s exemplary performance requirement. Design workflow, software used, and workstations were all adapted to more effective strategy. This prevented the creation of designs which required excessive re-working during testing, or the use of bloatware code to match a non-web design to the web.
  • At the user experience level, a “mobile first” strategy resulted in a 78 percent reduction of ineffective designs between early and final prototypes, as defined by improved User Experience and conversion to actual site code
  • Customer-centric design resulting in 98 percent of the site being used during early operation (walls, floors, and roofs) — the DEED Gold Certification required a minimum of 55 percent of the site provide good user experience, and avoid irrelevant “eye candy”. The ultimate design fits the DEED standard of “design for your audience”, rather than “design for your fellow designers”
  • Overall carbon footprint reduction 22.24 percent*

Don’t like these? Write a better one, and send it! Better yet, formulate your own, and make it a mission statement for the introduction of sustainability at all levels in your design process. I didn’t try writing one for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or downstream Web Performance Optimization (WPO) but hopefully someone will try.

Here’s the last part from the original:

About the U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit usgbc.org and connect on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

I leave it to you to imagine what the web/interactive/user experience/SEO/WPO community could create as an equivalent. What would be the equivalent of the “US Green Building Council”? How could we create it? How could an equivalent of LEED certification be developed for the web, as well as online games, MMOGs, and Virtual Worlds?

Try writing it yourself! This could be the start of something big…

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