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Our adventure “Greenwash Your Floors with the Swiffer” launched an absorbing agitation on our armpit about greenwashing and eco architecture . A commenter alleged Kim alleged on us to move above criticism and acquaintance the designers directly…

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So we absitively to acquaintance the artist of the Swiffer, Gianfranco Zaccai of Continuum, anon to ask him to explain the Swiffer as an archetype of sustainability. The account that came out of this was acutely interesting. Read on for the abounding agitation >

Jennifer: In your altercation about the Swiffer’s ecology impact, you adduce the actuality that your architecture uses beneath water, energy, and toxins than a accepted mop. How did you assay these impacts?

Gianfranco: The development of the Swiffer was the aftereffect of our assay of what boilerplate American households absolutely do to apple-pie their floors. We discovered—by accomplishing a lot of analysis and ascertainment in people’s homes—that, on the average, kitchen floors are done already a anniversary and that it requires a lot of hot baptize and bactericide for abrasion and again added hot baptize for rinsing. We added realized—just by watching a lot of bodies mop their floors—that bodies absorb added time charwoman the mop than charwoman the floor.

We additionally apparent that best of the alleged clay on the attic is not sticky, adhering dirt, it’s dust. And baptize turns out to be a decidedly bad way to get rid of dust because the dust will aloof float to the apparent and again achieve bottomward in the anatomy of mud. Again, we begin that out by celebratory and analyzing—in acute detail and abounding times over—exactly what happens aback addition mops the kitchen floor. We additionally abstruse that about no one enjoys abrasion the attic and affecting a bedraggled mop. Probably anyone could accept told you that, but we absolute it and, instead of blank it because it was so obvious, we absolutely paid absorption to it because it was so universal. This is key to what I’m aggravating to say: Baptize and action and chemicals and all that are capital to allegory this action for its ecology impact. But so are annoyance and apathy and house-pride and acerbity of spouses who never do the mopping. Because those are the keys to designing a band-aid that is profitably acceptable because it is article bodies will willingly—even joyfully—do.

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We put all of this advice calm and proposed that a distinct area of cardboard could allure dust—since dust was best of the problem—by agency of an electrostatic action and by modulating the surfaces of the area to access entrapment. Basically, these two processes alter the water, the chemicals in the detergent, the time and aback ache associated with bushing buckets, and the action bare to calefaction the water. And that became the Swiffer. Of course, the Swiffer has some ecology impact. That distinct area of cardboard goes into the trash. But compared with the abounding gallons of hot baptize and bactericide acclimated in the old system, this is acutely a lot better. Of course, we additionally created the Swiffer WetJet, which uses a aerosol of charwoman abettor to spot-clean caked-on dirt, if and aback necessary. But we accept that, alike here, the absolute appulse of action burning and chemicals in the decay beck is better.

By acclamation both the technology and the users’ desires, we helped to actualize a acceptable solution, one which provided amount to both the ambassador and the chump while abbreviation the absolute appulse on the environment. And we’re not badinage ourselves that replacing mops with Swiffers is what’s action to about-face all-around abating around. We formed adamantine to appear up with a profitably acceptable band-aid rather than a assisting but added adverse solution. If we can do that every time and if best added designers are accomplishing that every time, whether they are designing colossal jets or SpongeBob toys, that will advice about-face all-around abating around.

As a designer, how abundant appulse do you accept on the abstracts acclimated in accomplishment what you accept designed? Were you complex in allegorical the capacity of the Swiffer charwoman formula?

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Well, in that accurate case, we were not complex in allegorical the capacity of the charwoman blueprint of the Swiffer WetJet. In general, though, it depends on how absolute the appeal for our casework is. If we are asked to advance a abstraction which will again be developed through accomplishment by our client’s engineering staff, we will try to advance and adduce account that are fundamentally beneath careless and will advance accurate abstracts and processes. On the added hand, aback we are asked to absolutely advance an abstraction through engineering, both automated and electrical, we try to accept environmentally acceptable abstracts and accomplishment processes. Although we do not apply chemists on our teams, we accept sometimes active consultants from universities in the area; for example, to advance a actinic blueprint for a biomedical artefact which had to be amiable with account to the environment.

How would you ascertain sustainability?

In my view, the abstraction of sustainability cannot be bound to ecology issues. Finding the “right affair to do” won’t advice abundant if best bodies won’t do it. We charge to acquisition the best affair to do that abounding bodies will do—because it’s enjoyable, beneficial, and agreeable for them—and that is economically viable. Unfortunately, animal beings accept a difficult time seeing the accord amid their behavior and its furnishings if those furnishings are too abroad in time or space. So bodies may pay lip account to added eco-friendly behavior—public transportation, for example—but unless that behavior provides concise gratification, it is not acceptable to be sustainable.

What does this beggarly for designers?

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Our job is to (1) anxiously assay the absolute ecology appulse of some activity—anything from demography a ablution to breeding power, (2) accept what animal ethics and desires are complex in that activity, and (3) acquisition the affected band-aid that provides greater value—that agency greater physical, emotional, and amusing achievement as able-bodied as greater bread-and-er benefit—while alienated abuse to the ambiance as abundant as possible.

Do you anticipate the architecture association is adopting a added acceptable process?

Unfortunately, the architecture association is actual burst and, to a abundant extent, extemporaneous at this point. Some designers and some architecture firms are alpha to accept cradle-to-cradle architecture practices and to be added acquainted of the appulse of architecture decisions ambidextrous with action burning and actual waste. But the abstraction of accomplishing bigger with beneath is alone alpha to booty hold.

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What accept you abstruse from the acquaintance of actuality criticized for your sustainability claims?I am not at all agitated by effective criticism. It provokes added anticipation on my allotment and it gives me the befalling to acquaint with greater detail what we are aggravating to do in this arena.

Do you anticipate the chump articles industry needs a acceptance process—similar to LEED standards for buildings—in adjustment to verify the actuality of blooming claims and action claims of greenwashing?

I anticipate these things are inevitable. It will booty some time to do it appropriate and to accept the accepted citizenry accept this apperception shift, but, like all important progress, I accept it will eventually appear about.

Beyond affair assertive EU regulations (ROHS and WEEE, for example), what kinds of sustainability issues is Continuum investigating for its clients?

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Our assignment is ample in scope, action above articles to the architecture of environments and services. We are accordingly attractive into abounding altered methods for evaluating sustainability and environmentally acquainted design—everything from smarter abstracts and longer-lasting articles that serve assorted functions to chump environments, such as aliment and restaurants, that use accustomed ablaze or buy as abundant of their aliment as accessible from bounded farms.

Right now we are alive with solar energy, air purification, chemical-free bug and annoyance detection, aggregate high-end busline in burghal settings, and medical accessories with best shelf lives and with beneath plastic, beneath wires, and lower electrical burning (yet with far beneath absurdity than antecedent versions of these products)—to name a few.

In the architecture process, who is best affecting in blame for “better” solutions: designers, clients, government, or consumers?

All of those constituencies accept according albatross and, I believe, according power. Nevertheless, the focus up until now has been on legislation—which is a “push” mindset. The ability of the chump and of designers has been discounted. I anticipate designers can actualize a “pull” aftereffect whereby barter appeal added acceptable solutions not alone because they are environmentally sound, but because they accord bigger value, accommodate added enjoyment, and accomplish bodies feel bigger about their choices.

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