Principles for designing sustainable services
Principles for designing sustainable services

This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Service design is all about understanding people’s needs and delivering services that meet them. So why do we design and implement these services without understanding the impact they have on our planet?

The climate crisis poses a massive risk to meeting the most basic human needs — access to food, water, clean air and shelter. If these risks are to be mitigated, each of us who are designing and delivering public, private and third sector services, needs to work to reduce emissions and find climate-positive solutions.

Environmental considerations need to be positioned as a priority in all of our existing service design standards, including (especially) the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) Service Standard. Currently, the Digital Scotland Service Standard is one of the few that mentions the environment. …

A red roadwork sign in a parking space that says ‘parking bay suspended for social distancing’
A red roadwork sign in a parking space that says ‘parking bay suspended for social distancing’
Image credit: Julie-Ann Gylaitis on Unsplash

There are a lot of things happening right now to make life safer — but how inclusive are they? This is a question we set out to explore in the midst of lockdown.

Who are we? Andy (from Go Upstream) creates opportunities for people with disabilities, primarily people with dementia, to work with transport providers to raise awareness of travel challenges and to work on designing solutions. Ness (from Snook) is a service designer and has involved people in the co-design of public services for over 10 years, including trains, bikes, planes and bikes-on-trains. …

Our recent Design+Climate event looked at ‘how to talk about designing for the climate at work’. A topic we identified as a key barrier to persuading clients and colleagues to include the environment in design briefs. Here’s a wrap up of our key, actionable learnings to improve your climate chat.

Image for post
Image for post
Illustration: Jo Flood

We were lucky to be joined by Tom Crompton from the Common Cause Foundation and Chris Adams from Greening Digital and ClimateAction.Tech, to share their different approaches to climate conversations, from Tom’s values to Chris’ tools.

Values and tools are both important to shape good conversations that inspire action:

“In order to get to values, you need explicitness about what you are doing now and what the impacts of this might be …. Then we can ask, how is the work we are doing meeting those values?” Chris…

Image for post
Image for post
Illustration: Isabella Bunnell

At Snook, we have been thinking about how service design can help shape a more sustainable society. So far our thinking has been outwards focussed; about climate change as something created ‘out there’, by other people. I’d like to now turn our attention inwards, to service design practice and the sustainability of our solutions.

We always put users and their needs at the heart of product or service development. But what if the needs we are designing for today, compromise the needs of future generations? Basic but vital requirements, like access to clean air, food and water. Speed and convenience are common user needs, yet often lead to unsustainable solutions that damage the environment and our health. …


Ness Wright

Service design + sustainability

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store