Life-Cycle Design

The design of sustainable buildings has long focused on reduced energy needs during the operational phase, largely disregarding energy and material consumption as well as emissions associated with the construction, maintenance, re-use, and demolition. Newly designed buildings can operate increasingly efficiently, and the focus of sustainable design is beginning to shifts towards the lifecycle evaluation and thoughtful deployment of building materials themselves. While the design and assessment of building products from recycled materials remains poorly understood some products have successfully employed (and marketed) recycled materials. Designing building products from the recycled stream, in fact, may open entrepreneurial avenues when creating value from trash using materials that would otherwise be disposed of at significant cost.
The lecture/workshop presents the broader issues of lifecycle design, with a special interest in performative components and assemblies for the building envelope. The course introduces the fundamentals of product development and prototyping, manufacturing processes, market research and economic analysis. These aspects and other issues are discussed under the umbrella of lifecycle performance. Various methods for analyzing material flows and processes are used to guide the evaluation of existing components as well as enable the creative development of new ideas for products that create value from waste materials.
In the first part of the course, students will work individually and focus on understanding limitations and opportunities for lifecyle design through the analysis and development of short case studies. During the second part of the course, small student groups will develop proposals and prototypes for a newly conceived building component based on recycled materials. These projects forefront creative design ideas in the context of lifecycle assessments while addressing technical and business aspects as well.
Offered by the Graduate School of Design, students from the Harvard Business School and other graduate schools are encouraged to enroll. Interdisciplinary teams of students will be formed to develop the product design projects.

 The course will be offered at the GSD through October 5th, and at the Harvard Innovation Lab from October 12th on. There are no prerequisites.