Eco-Conscious Consumer Psyche
Savvy consumers are lovers of stuff – sleek gadgets, iconic furniture pieces and chic abodes. Consumption is based on what their pocketbooks allow and dictated by trends, product availability and technological innovation. More and more, consumers are becoming eco-conscious as they opt for green alternatives – purchasing energy-star rated, efficient appliances, organic threads and locally grown foods.
From a design perspective, what is bought is often less important than how and why consumers choose to buy what they do. What, where, and how people buy makes a statement about their identity and the type of person they are, or would like to be. Contrary to popular belief, most of us don’t weigh the full costs and benefits of our purchasing decisions. Instead, we are strongly influenced by emotional factors, the behavior of others and our own habits – tending to not use all of the information available. The undeniable fact is that impulse buys make up nearly 75 percent of today’s consumer spending where a purchase serves far more than just a functional need.
At EDSA we challenge you to join us in creating a smarter, more sustainable world. Based on an increasing emotional desire to make eco-friendly purchasing decisions, how can we make more informed decisions to live a greener lifestyle?
Start by calculating your Ecological Footprint using http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator or a similar assessment tool. The result is a rough estimate of resources expended in relation to the biological capacity of the planet. These results are largely based on the products we consume, our behaviors surrounding these products and the spaces we inhabit. Let’s all work to reduce our impact and educate others on protecting the planet.
Change is not about modifying needs, it’s about adjusting values. Do you believe in recycling, but throw away used appliances and electronics? Buy organic produce but let food go to waste by not eating leftovers? Passionate about saving resources, but don’t cut down on driving? Carry a cloth bag to the grocery store, but fill it with disposable, overly packaged products? We must all make a commitment to practice what we preach, lead by example and encourage cohorts to do the same. Here are our top suggestions to get the ball rolling:
- There is a tendency to limit product lifecycles and unnecessarily replace items we consume (i.e., refrigerators, vacuums and home furnishings). Taking time to maintain possessions is always more efficient than consuming an entirely new product.
- While we’re busy surfing the web, listening to our ipods and twittering away, it’s all too easy to lose track of the energy these devices consume. Pull the plug on gear not currently in use. Computer adapters, appliances and even cell phone chargers constantly suck up energy so long as they remain plugged in.
- Don’t complacently rely on technology. Energy efficient appliances will not scold you for running the dishwasher when it’s half full. Your LEED certified home will not prevent you from keeping your thermostat at 80 degrees in the winter and 55 in the summer. You have to do these things yourself.
- Cut down on commute times by choosing to move closer to employment or offer telecommuting to employees. Seek out teleconferences rather than attending in person. Downsize your vehicle and use mass transit whenever possible. And, don’t forget to bike, walk and use human power to propel you where you need to go, whenever possible.
- Since the 1970s’ the average American home has grown by more than 500 square feet, while the average family size has decreased. This incongruity should signal that our want for space has surpassed our needs. Consider how well you can live by living small. Design spaces to be multifunctional, de-clutter and tear down walls to let in natural light.
The need to conserve natural resources is not a temporary situation and therefore demands lasting changes in how we live, work and play. It’s time to make a difference regarding our personal dependence on energy and natural resources. We encourage you to share these environmental values by emphasizing the importance of action to those around you.
Healthy Lifestyle Design
Everyone agrees that eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and effectively coping with stress is beneficial to the body and mind. But pause to consider, that links between the health of our global population and health of the environment are also undeniable. In the United States, life expectancy has increased by approximately 40 years since 1900. Only seven of those years can be attributed to improvements in disease care while the rest are the result of improved prevention efforts (such as immunizations) and improved environmental conditions.
By definition, the our environment includes all that is external to us as individuals – the air we breathe, the water we drink and use, the land and built structures that surround us – in essence, all natural and human-formed conditions. Simply put, the way we design and build our communities also affects our physical and mental health.
Supporting this theory is a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that describes a healthy community as one that continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments by helping people support one another in all aspects of daily life. We can therefore conclude that design plays a pivotal role in creating and fostering quality of life where people can live, work, worship, learn and play and are free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible and affordable options.
We have seen first-hand the profound influence environment can have on public-health, as noted in some of our healing gardens and hospital work. We know and understand how comfort, natural light, clear circulation patterns, views to the outside, access to well-conceived landscapes and a relaxing atmosphere promotes patient healing. In parallel, people who live near parks and public open space tend to be more physically active. Related studies confirm that older urban residents live longer if they have places to walk, tree-lined streets and access to parks.
Lifestyle-based design integrates health strategies into housing, urban development, land use, transportation, industry, recreation and food source/agriculture decisions. These decisions in turn influence neighborhood configuration, housing design, parks, location of stores and schools and residual factors such as traffic density and air/water quality. For today and for the future, health must be an explicit component of planning.
Decisions about development density, mix of uses, architectural massing, access to food sources and physical connectivity affect peoples’ physical health and psychological well-being. In well-designed communities, the overall social fabric is strengthened by connecting people to means of livelihood, education, recreation, culture and other resources. Integrated natural areas can further bolster a sense of community by drawing people together and enhancing social connections.
At EDSA, we continue to refine the definition of healthy lifestyle as related to ‘next’ practices in our planning and design work. We view very assignment as an opportunity to combine past experience with today’s leading applications in the creation of healthy and sustainable living environments.
Adventure Based Travel
Tourism is a powerful industry, one with the influence to transform economies around the world. So it’s only natural that sub-sectors develop and evolve within the tourism platform. Gaining strength and growing in prominence is adventure tourism. According to a George Washington University study, conducted in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), consumers spent more than $89 billion worldwide on adventure travel in 2012 and it is expected to continue growing at about 16% every year.
One reason for this change is a global, cultural shift toward people wanting more transformative experiences. Explorative and innovative travel, community engagement and “dialing down the bling” are all part of the latest trends. Cementing this sector’s mainstream appeal is campaigns like Tourism Queensland, who teamed with pop culture figure Oprah Winfrey to market Australian tourism. Similarly, shows based on the evolution of expedition-discovery, like The Amazing Race, Survivor and the National Geographic Channel, have all played a role in creating a market for this category.
The momentum for adventure tourism revolves around a desire by participants to step outside their comfort zones and see the world in a new way. Its broad base includes not only those that seek physical challenge and risk, but also those looking for intellectual, spiritual and emotional adventures. The common thread of adventure-based travel is empowerment of travelers to awaken to, and ultimately transform their lives through a physical activity, cultural exchange or engagement with nature.
In its most traditional form, adventure travel is typically grouped into either "hard" or "soft" adventures. Hard adventures involve some kind of extreme sporting activity: paragliding, rock climbing, surfing, spelunking or scuba diving in remote and exotic locations. Soft adventures are leisurely and entail less strenuous activities where the focus is often on education. Activities such as archeological tours, culinary or wine classes, bird watching, canoeing, fishing and horseback riding all fall within these parameters.
However, the most significant finding in recent studies by the ATTA is the emergence of cerebral pursuits, consisting of adventures that don’t necessarily involve high levels of risk, challenge or physical fitness. Instead, they rely more on immersion and discovery such as historic exploration, volunteer tourism and religious pilgrimages, where cultural and environmentally sustainable activities are top priority and travelers have the opportunity to get personal with the local population. These first-hand experiences tend to leave powerful and lasting impressions, often inspiring thoughtful and helpful action.
Whether hard, soft or cerebral, adventure travel is gaining favor because it involves healthy-physical activities, allows for a deeper cultural exchange and an appreciation for the fragility of places. It is also more often viewed as a “guilt-free” holiday option given that money spent can penetrate more deeply into communities and contribute to local economies. In this vein, adventure travel focuses on a “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit.
The tourism industry is quickly learning that consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and better able to identify the needs and activities to achieve their personal goals. Adventure industry providers, hoteliers and communities must create and market a broader range of products, refine current services and continually explore the preferences of target audiences to maintain and gain a competitive edge.
EDSA Project Visits in July to Several High Profile Projects on Hainan Island, China
Ryan Clifton and Matt Renauld recently had the opportunity to visit five different EDSA project sites currently under construction across Hainan Island in southern China. The visits gave our designers the opportunity to conduct field observations of current construction and final walk-throughs to review final design details for our Clients. “The size of the proposed projects and the ability to construct these developments at such a large scale is very impressive”, said Ryan Clifton.
Matt Renauld added: “I was excited to see that the time and efforts made by our studio to model and study the proposed amenities and details in Sketch Up paid great dividends. It was amazing to compare the finished built product to our studies and to see how the scale and detail worked perfectly."
Project: Wenchang Resort - Wenchang, Hainan Island, China
EDSA has been working closely with KWG Properties on the Wenchang Resort since 2011. Our efforts kicked-off with a master plan charette that led to full design services through construction documentation. The overall master plan has been carefully constructed to maximize ocean views, while creating an open space system that links all users to the oceanfront. Modern styled amenities and features will blend with rustic materials and traditional design to create memorable places and experiences for users and guests. The central focal point of the resort, is the clubhouse, which has been positioned atop the ridge line and at the heart of the open space system. Its amenity terraces are highlighted by the dramatic infinity edge swimming pool, which offers unparalleled panoramic views to the South China Sea. EDSA has completed conceptual design, master planning and construction documents for this exciting project, which will be officially opening in the Fall of 2013.
Green Roof Installation
Panorama photos of the gatehouse arrival
The Wenchang clubhouse amenity area is designed to open out to views of the South China Sea and is highlighted by the infinity edge pool
Wenchang SketchUP before and after shots
Mission Hills Lan Kwai Fong-Haikou Town Center
EDSA has continued its partnership with Mission Hills Group and contributed to the planning and design of a low-carbon Mission Hills Lan Kwai Fong-Haikou Town Center with hotels, shopping and entertainment that will open later this year. The hotel, shopping and entertainment complex will add 300-plus renowned anchor brands such as, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance and Hard Rock hotels, ice-skating and ten-pin bowling attractions to the resort that is already home to the world’s largest collection of volcanic golf courses. The EDSA team had the opportunity to visit the site and see the construction progress.
EDSA VP Ryan Clifton reviews towncenter construction with the client
Mission Hills towncenter rendering (by Callison)
EDSA SketchUP of Mission Hills towncenter
Quarry Lake at Mission Hills' Town Center core
The Town Center core is focused on the Quarry Lake, which will create a magnificent visual centerpiece as guests arrive to the Town Center. The lake acts as a backdrop and stage for a sweeping water and light show that will activate the site at all times of the day. The edges of the lake are designed to offer a variety of experiences for the user, while offering sweeping views of the retail and entertainment uses.
Quarry Lake current construction progress
August Workshop in Xishuangbanna, China
Principal Scott LaMont shares his experience at this workshop:
"During this trip, we were hiking for days on end in the rain forested mountains of Xishuangbanna. Throughout the journey, we spent time in the local mountain villages visiting with the local village leaders in their homes. In fact, we had the opportunity to share in their local new year’s celebration; which was a very memorable and bonding experience. In the villages, our team studied their architecture and the layouts of the homes learning how and why their public and private open spaces were configured so perfectly on the steep hillsides. They had it right. And we were determined to let their approach guide our future design work.
In the end, this experience inspired our team and the client to move forward and explore the concept of incorporating these villages into the heart of the project, allowing the future visitors of this unique destination to enjoy and experience what we had."