Introducing the Living Principles Scorecard

by Caitlin Dover on Sunday, September 11, 2011 in FeaturesTools

Assessing the overall sustainability of a design project can be a challenge. To aid designers and design instructors in that process, Living Principles co-architect and ambassador Phil Hamlett has created a new, user-friendly tool. The Living Principles Scorecard, downloadable here, makes it possible to easily rate the various aspects of design work according to the four Living Principles and their component concepts.

The Scorecard, which rates levels of sustainability on a scale of 0-4 (with 0 being “Doing Nothing” and 4 representing “Restoration”), is intended for the studio and the classroom in equal measure. For instance, a design team working on a branding and packaging system for their client might use the Scorecard during the early stages of project planning, applying the scores to each aspect of the proposed solution and then gauging where more sustainable measures might be taken. As part of a design curriculum, the Scorecard can be used during group projects and can stimulate discussion about what goes into sustainable design practice.

Nathan Shedroff, Living Principles ambassador and Chair of the MBA in Design Strategy Program at the California College of the Arts, points out the flexibility of this new tool: “The Living Principles Scorecard is one of the few assessment tools a designer can use to evaluate impacts across the wide spectrum of sustainability categories. Ideally, it would be introduced, along with the concepts it references, in a class or unit on sustainability and then used in every class and for every project thereafter.

Hamlett, the Graduate Director of the School of Graphic Design at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, developed the Scorecard with input from Shedroff. They explain that the Scorecard was inspired, in part, by the Sustainability Helix, a comparable tool co-developed by Natural Capitalism Solutions and graduates from Presidio School of Management. However, as Shedroff points out, “The Helix is a corporate level tool—it’s more about an organization’s behavior, strategy, and policies than the sustainability of specific products and services.” The Scorecard is more specific to design, and, says Shedroff, “allows [designers] a quick assessment of a solution’s sustainability opportunities without a lot of work or a whole culture change. That change can come over time, as more and more people within an organization or studio use the tool over and over.”

The Scorecard has already made a successful debut in Hamlett’s own classroom, where he used it to give his students ownership and deepened understanding of the Living Principles. “To insure that everyone participated, I brought each student’s responsibility down to just a few principles,” he explains. “Specifically, I took the 21 discreet principles, divided them by the 9 students in class — which meant that each student had two principles for which they were responsible. Thus, as the sheriff of good “behavior,” one student was compelled to comment on that dimension of every project in the room, as well as determine a score. Once we had all of that information in front of us, discussion flowed very freely. It was a surprisingly effective tool for setting the terms of engagement in critique.”

We encourage you to download the Living Principles Scorecard for use in your own classroom, boardroom, or studio.


The Living Principles Framework

Sustainability Helix

Nathan Shedroff speaks about the Sustainability Helix at Compostmodern 2009

Nathan Shedroff reviews the Sustainability Helix in his book Design is the Problem