Image via NASA
Last week, design software firm Autodesk held a sustainability summit at their San Francisco office. The designs created with Autodesk software are often impressive, and very often have a sustainable bend. But there were two presenters whose projects particularly highlighted the greener edge to using the various programs in Autodesk's suite of tools. The first was NASA Ames building, which broke ground back in 2009 and is set for completion in just a couple months. The second is a laptop concept that revolutionizes how devices can, and should be made for ultimate recyclability, repairability and upgradability -- the Bloom Laptop.
Image via NASA
The NASA Ames building is a phenomenal example of what can be accomplished when a design team combines its strengths with the best technology NASA has to offer. Determined to build essentially a space station on the ground, the design team worked to use the natural resources available to them as much as possible, with little or no external input. This means a building that maximizes passive solar heating and cooling, renewable energy, and smart technologies to minimize water use and even have zero sewage waste.
At the Autodesk event, two of the lead designers on the project explained the technologies used and how concepts were honed into reality. The building is set for completion in May, and it has already been dubbed the "rogue" campus within NASA -- it is now a standard to which other buildings will be held. You can read more about the building here.
Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch
Also present at the event were two members of the design team behind the Bloom Laptop, a computer that can be broken down in just 45 seconds by the owner without using any tools. Aaron Engel-Hall explained that the group prototyped and tested countless designs, searching for one that would have everything a consumer wanted, plus would be the ideal device for minimizing environmental impact.
Researching how consumers respond to various features in reyclability, they came up with a laptop that has only the most basic pieces, locked together without any screws, which can be upgraded, repaired, or recycled with the least effort.
Image via Autodesk
From designing a brand new friction hinge for the display to figuring out how to make the required bulkiness of the keyboard a desired feature by making it wireless, the team has come up with a concept that should be the future of all laptop -- and electronics -- designs. The team notes that thanks to planned obsolescence, their design isn't likely to be taken on by Apple or other big players, but nevertheless, it's certainly a laptop many would consider purchasing. Check out more on the Bloom Laptop here.
Both of these projects were especially inspiring because both teams noted how impossible their tasks would have been without the advanced Autodesk software. The software helped visualize, manipulate, and recreate various possibilities without having to go through production of countless more prototypes than necessary. It goes to show that with the right tools, the greenest designs are definitely possible -- we just have to begin dreaming them up.
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