Green with Service Envy — The Live|Work and Streetcar Partnership.


"Our major challenge is to enable people to express who they are through the use of services instead of through ownership of things. We must create "service envy"."

These are the words from Live|Work a London based Design Studio who specialize in the creation, development and management of services. It is their mission to use design tools to make services more desirable than owning products, thereby reducing consumerism of objects and increasing the more sustainable consumerism of services. It is Treehugger’s mission to bring Green Design into the mainstream and prove that it is not only sexy and desirable but accessible and practical, therefore we are very excited that this is exactly what Live|Work’s projects are all about.

A great example of creating Service Envy is their project with Streetcar, which is a car-sharing service operating in London and Brighton. Streetcar provides a fleet of cars around the Greater London area (and soon to spread further) and Brighton which can be accessed using a smartcard and pin. The idea is that anyone who doesn’t own a car, but needs to use one every now and again can just pick a Streetcar up and use it for half an hour to do the weekly shop or take it for a weekend jaunt out of town.Streetcar’s target is to take 300 cars off London’s roads each year. They have reached this target as of April 2005, within their first year of operation. Research has shown that each shared car replaces 6 privately owned cars. Further research has shown that people drive 47% fewer miles when they join a car sharing company. If they continue at this rate Streetcar’s service will be reducing pollution in London at a rate of 400,000 kilos of CO2 per year. Streetcar is not only providing a brilliantly convenient service, but its great for the environment too.

While these positives might seem obvious to you and me, there is still the main challenge in providing any new service, which is convincing people that the service is better than the product it is replacing. In this case it is to persuade people that it is more desirable to not have the hassles and expenses of owning your own car while still having access to one at a moment’s notice. Since the car is probably one of the most desirable consumables on the market this is a serious challenge. As Live|Work say

"to make this shift a service must rival the design quality of the product."

While Streetcar provide the excellent service, Live|Work provide the impetus for social change. They do not just help Streetcar set up the service, but they monitor its performance and analyse the customer’s experience, enabling them to improve the service as it grows. This is an ongoing partnership that will enable Streetcar to operate at their optimum level while continuously developing and improving their services to convince people that less cars on the road is better for everyone. And this is my friends is what is they call ‘Service Envy’ and we here in Barcelona sure are envious!
Luckily Streetcar isn’t the only existing car-sharing service for there are many others operating around the world, for example Zipcar as previously posted on Treehugger. ::Live|Work ::Streetcar
[Leonora & Petz]

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