Case Studies in Sustainability from the Designers Accord: An Introduction

Valerie Casey, founder and executive director of the global sustainability movement, introduces a new series of case studies on

Designers Accord


In July 2007, with a call-to-action dubbed the Kyoto Treaty for design, the Designers Accord was founded as a global coalition of designers, educators, and corporate leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact.

Since then, the Designers Accord has become one of the fastest moving and most influential organizations within the creative community: It has been adopted by over 170,000 members, representing each design discipline. In 2008, Fast Company wrote that it is “on a path to change the culture of the creative community from bottom to top, and with it, the way everything is made, from toothbrushes to airplanes.”

Our creatives from all over the globe–designing everything from toothbrushes to airplanes–are working to integrate the principles of sustainability into all aspects of design: from education, to practice and production, and ultimately consumption. We are catalyzing new thinking by collectively building our intelligence around issues of climate change and social justice, and tackling those challenges with optimism and creativity.

For example, frog design’s color changing, lichen-based wall art is used to detect carbon monoxide or other pollutants in the home.

frogware lichen sensor

IDEO’s hourglass-inspired interface that visually controls electricity usage at home. When the hourglass empties, the electricity that runs through the house turns off automatically.

IDEO eiffel

Adopters of the Designers Accord commit to five guidelines that provide ways to take action. Becoming a member of the Designers Accord provides access to a community of peers that shares methodologies, resources, and experiences around environmental and social issues in design. And that encapsulates the unifying philosophy of the Designers Accord: open source. We advocate inverting the traditional model of competition, and encourage sharing best practices so we can innovate more efficiently and quickly.

Fast Company was a leading adopter of the Designers Accord, and with us, champions the belief that sustainability is good for the triple bottom line. So we’re excited to announce that right here on is where we will be sharing the brightest and boldest game-changing case studies from our community to show how design thinking and knowledge sharing can change the world.

If you have a design and sustainability story to share, let us know about it! And follow us on Twitter @designersaccord to hear what the Designers Accord community is thinking about.

Browse more Designers Accord Case Studies

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Valerie Casey is a leading thinker and practitioner in the areas of design and open innovation. She specializes in helping organizations–from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups–develop their internal and external networks to address cultural, economic, and environmental challenges with greater agility. Valerie is the founder of the Designers Accord, the global coalition of designers, corporate leaders, and educational institutions focused on creating positive impact.

Valerie currently leads the digital experience practice at IDEO. Prior to IDEO, Valerie was Executive Creative Director at frog design, an Associate Partner at Pentagram Design, and Associate Creative Director at vivid studios. Her work has been highlighted in multiple publications, and in 2008, she was named a “Guru You Show Know” by Fortune magazine and a “Master of Design” by Fast Company. Valerie lectures on design throughout the international community, and is an adjunct professor at California College of the Arts. She holds a master’s degree in cultural theory and design from Yale University and a BA from Swarthmore College.