Bodies and Buildings Class 1: Intro to Systems Thinking

Have we reached the limits of growth:

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Bodies are in trouble right now – despite reaching the peak of productivity the US now leads the world in the rampant growth of chronic diseases that lower life expectancy, and reduce life quality.

“People are living longer than projected in 1990 — on average, 10.7 more years for men, and 12.6 more years for women. But for many of them, the quality of life during those years is not good. On average, people are plagued by illness or pain during the last 14 years of life.”

Buildings account for the largest source of both electricity consumption (68% of global use) and greenhouse gas emissions (48% of global emissions) in the world. –UNEP.

Purpose of this course:

You are better equipped than MBAs to envision and build our way out of this trap, but often lack an understanding of the mega forces of business, regulation, and bad cultural habits that keep us from saving ourselves.

What we will cover in this course:

  • Meta view
  • Focus on points of intervention
  • Conceptual scaffolding

“Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in ‘leverage points.’ These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big change in everything .”

Introduction to Donella Meadows, and learning about stocks, flows, and hands on the faucets.




LCA Event with o2NYC

Join o2NYC as we begin a learning group whose goal is to understand Life Cycle Assessment, and to develop our skills as design professionals to provide the systems thinking approach and holistic understanding that LCA provides.


When: Wednesday, February 25th. 6-8 PM.
Where: Smart Design. 601 W 26th Street, Suite 1820.
RSVP: j at o2nyc dot org
$10 suggested donation.

As a concept, a product lifecycle makes intuitive sense. Designers conceive of a product or service, and source materials that are mined from the earth, refined, manufactured, packaged, marketed, sold, used, and then either retired in landfill, or in a better world, recycled back into the system. Cradle to cradle, here we come. In practice, knowing the full impact of a product’s impact on the environment be the first thing we do as designers when developing a new product idea. A comprehensive approach that takes in all phases of a product lifecycle is the best framework for letting us know which action to take in redesigning for green – which approach is the most environmentally friendly.

Yet as a practice, life cycle assessment is both daunting and complicated, but this may be a case of LCA reflecting the complexities of how we make things today. Lloyd Hicks and I will lead an introductory discussion about the principles and practices of LCA, the first in a series dedicated to showing designers how they can access this critical tool for understanding an entire product service system.

Space is limited. Please RSVP to confirm your participation!