• 24/04/2024
  • 10

Principles of Sustainable Design in Transportation

The concept of sustainable design is simple and embodies a holistic approach to design to reduce the negative impact on the planet. It encourages the well-being of people and brings eco-friendly durability to design. Sustainable design has a clear objective, to reduce the dependence on non-renewable resources, minimize waste, and create a healthy habit of circular economy practices.

Sustainable transportation design is when designers aim to bring disruptive mobility solutions that have the least carbon impact on the planet. Decarbonization is one of the key elements of sustainable transportation design. It aims to foster innovative and modern mobility design solutions that have a carbon-neutral impact and give users an enhanced journey experience.

The Key Areas of Sustainable Intervention in Transportation Design

Sustainable principles have two key areas of intervention in transportation design.

1. The vehicle design

This means considering all aspects of the vehicle. Ergonomic design, eco-friendly materials, reduced weight of the material, eco-friendly interiors, the material of the car seats, reduced friction of tires, and bringing in more hybrid and electric vehicle models are some examples of sustainable solutions in transportation design.

2. The transportation infrastructure

This means designing sustainable solutions across infrastructure design, urban planning, materials, and manufacturing. Leading to overall energy efficiency and emission reduction. Designing focused lanes for ride-sharing vehicles, and bike lanes, enhancing public transportation access and connectivity, and pedestrian-friendly pathways. This also includes introducing concepts of smart red lights for traffic optimization. IoT devices on emergency vehicles that integrate with smart traffic lights to allow their free and quick movement.

Both are equally important in sustainable transportation design where the former offers users a variety of models in vehicles that suit their needs and preferences. The latter offers them convenient public connectivity and highlighted lanes for biking and car-sharing.

Sustainable Design Considerations for Transportation Design

Designers must understand the critical role they play in solving modern world carbon footprint problems. In transportation design, they work with scientists, engineers, and other stakeholders to come up with innovative solutions. Their role becomes of core significance when they replace traditional practices with innovative solutions that lower the consumption of limited resources. When working with sustainability as a core, here are a few design principles for transportation designers:

1. Assessing the lifecycle of the design

Conducting a Lifecycle assessment (LCA) is an essential sustainable design principle. This means assessing the transportation design projects and measuring their environmental impact. In this measurement designer will go through the entire process from the prototype to its grave. They will consider every bit and part, the material and resources required to produce the vehicle. Think of the materials, the construction, operations, energy required, maintenance, and finally its disposal.

In an LCA, transportation designers will also consider the infrastructure present, new infrastructure requirements, and different alternatives. This is also the stage where designers can identify areas of improvement, iterations to build more circular models, optimize design solutions in collaboration with other stakeholders, and monitor the overall vehicle performance and impact.

2. Inclusivity and accessibility

A key design principle in designing sustainable transportation is making it inclusive and accessible to all communities and abilities. Designers need to ensure social inclusion in their planning and design stages. This means thinking from diverse perspectives like designing for the:

i. Elderly,
ii. Low-income group (especially in the case of public transportation design)
iii. Disable
iv. Minorities and various ethnicities
v. Safety
vi. Social justice and access to all, etc.

These aspects foster a social inclusion aspect that needs careful consideration, especially in public vehicle design and infrastructure design.

3. Innovative adaptability

This principle explores the inclusion of tech in design that aids in integrating energy efficiency in vehicle design. Exploring new technology innovations, solutions, and tools that help designers to improve the vehicle’s efficiency and effectiveness. Including smart solutions like sensors, AI, embedded smart tablets connected to the internet acting as IoT devices, etc. These help to enhance the management and operations of the vehicle. Tech integration helps designers to build new models from a data-driven approach. Gathering critical insights from current vehicle use and adapting new changes basis the insights from use case data analysis. Key tech integration aiding sustainable solutions in transportation are:

i. Data analytics, monitoring, and IoT devices: Helps to identify patterns, and address things like temperature control, fuel level, optimal routes, better energy management, and more.
ii. AI for Smart transportation systems: Critical for the development of smart cities in our modern world. This means interconnected services, and intelligent transportation systems for automation, sensing, and coordination on the road.
iii. Blockchain for on-hire transportation services: Blockchain helps to decentralize service platforms that offer car-sharing, and ride-sharing-like services.

4. Green Infrastructure and resource sustenance

Another key sustainable design principle is to sustain and conserve present-day resources. And build more green transportation infrastructures. Including planting trees, gardens, bioswales, etc at, say, EV charging stations. Designers aim to enhance the modes of transportation by working on green transportation modes like wind and solar energy, hydroelectric, biomass, etc. It helps to provide multiple benefits that offer solutions to modern world challenges. Like reducing the urban heat effect, improving air quality, and creating more circular practices in transportation design.

5. Energy efficiency and carbon neutrality

This principle focuses on reducing the energy consumption of the vehicle from design to its entire lifecycle. Using sustainable and innovative materials can help the interiors to stay cooler utilizing less energy. Electric vehicles offer our fossil fuel time to replenish while utilizing carbon-neutral energy resources. Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions thereby reducing the vehicle’s carbon footprint.

These are a few principles designers work with in collaboration with other stakeholders to reach fuel efficiency solutions, design hybrid models or EVs, and adopt technology models that optimize vehicle efficiency. Transportation designers are working towards human-centric design where their prime focus is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving the user experience of public and private vehicles. Building resilient transportation solutions, reaching disruptive innovation, and increasing accessibility are the overall focal points for transportation designers in our modern world.

Interested in Designing the New-age Transportation Design Solutions?

Join Strate School of Design, Bangalore. The school has an industry-first approach to its learning with unique and exclusive partnerships with leading transportation brands in the country. The curriculum is closely linked with global immersion to Starte Paris and Starte Lyon to offer students cultural exchanges to evolve their design ideologies.

Know more about the Transportation Design program here.

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