Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design

What is Sustainable Design?

Sustainable communication design is the application of sustainability principles to communication design practice. Practitioners consider the full life cycle of products and services, and commit to strategies, processes and materials that value environmental, cultural, social and economic responsibility.


Values and Principles

The definition of sustainable design and sustainable design values and principles for GDC members to follow.

  • By acknowledging that we are part of an interdependent world;
  • By accepting responsibility for the consequences our actions have on our natural environment;
  • By developing and building sustainable strategies and practices;
  • By participating with the international design community in developing global best practices
  • By working to create products and services that are re-usable and/or provide long term value; and
  • By purchasing recycled, local and non-toxic materials wherever possible.
  • By sharing these principles through our Icograda network;
  • By collaborating with other design organizations worldwide to promote and develop best practices for sustainable communications design;
  • By integrating environmental criteria into all design processes and organizational decision making;
  • By employing accountable and transparent processes and procedures;
  • By reviewing our environmental impacts regularly and continually working to reduce them;
  • By adopting practices that use materials in continuous cycles;
  • By seeking suppliers who use sustainable practices;
  • By acting as community and industry advocates for environmentally responsible design practices; and
  • By by developing and providing products and services that improve the quality of life of all beings and support the health and well-being of the planet.
  • By promoting the intrinsic and greater value of sustainable communication design;
  • By encouraging clients to integrate sustainable principles into their communication projects;
  • By providing education and information resources to our members and the community at large to inform environmentally responsible design decisions; and
  • By championing sustainable communication solutions for our communities.

Sustainable Design Resources

4 Ways to Give Sustainable Client Gifts

This year, use your gifts as an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about the planet and people.

Congratulations GDC Fellow: Valerie Elliott CGD, FGDC

Valerie Elliott CGD, FGDC, was inducted into GDC Fellowship at the National Annual General Meeting in Calgary, Alberta on June 5, 2015.

Print It or Digitize It?

Designing to lower impacts

Festive & Green

Sustainable gift-giving hints for your design business.

Case Study: U of M Stops the Presses to Take it Online

Manitoba’s first Certified B Corporation, Manoverboard is a purpose-driven design firm whose mission is to “help businesses and organizations create a better world by design.”

Case Study: The GermSmart Campaign

A unique approach to hand hygiene

GDC Sustainability Case Studies

Highlighting the work of GDC members who embrace principles of sustainable design. Learn more about their projects and processes!

Making Sustainability Make Cents

Speaking the language of business when promoting sustainable design

Case Study: Design illustrates green tech at Science World

In-house design team at Science World, led by Carolina Becerra, uses design to engage and inform visitors on the science centre’s new green technologies.

Design For All

Accessibility in design today

Below is a collection of projects from GDC members who embrace principles of sustainable design. Learn more about their projects and processes:

Case Study: U of M Stops the Presses to Take it Online

Manitoba’s first Certified B Corporation, Manoverboard is a purpose-driven design firm whose mission is to “help businesses and organizations create a better world by design.”

Case Study: The GermSmart Campaign

A unique approach to hand hygiene

Case Study: Design illustrates green tech at Science World

In-house design team at Science World, led by Carolina Becerra, uses design to engage and inform visitors on the science centre’s new green technologies.

Case Study: smashLAB is Leveraging Design for Meaningful Clients

The designers at smashLAB give credit to their client for the opportunity to make an impact online and reduce the need for printing with The College Sustainability Report Card website.

Sustainability: Recommended Reading

External publications for the sustainability minded designer.

Sustainability: Tools for Designers, Educators & Students

Useful GDC tools about sustainable communication design.

Follow the GDC Sustainable Design Committee:

About The GDC National Sustainability Committee (NSC)

Founded in 2006, the NSC's first work focused on creating a definition for sustainable communication design—believed to be the first formal definition to exist worldwide. In 2009, the GDC adopted Sustainability Values and Principles, giving us a strong foundation from which to build. We continue to work to bring you tools and resources.

NSC Members:

If you are interested in sustainable communication design, please consider joining our dedicated team: Contact us!

NSC Vision & Mission

Purpose: connect our national design community to our core values of sustainability

Our mission is to: encourage, educate and enable the GDC community, our clients and our partners to embrace and implement the many dimensions of sustainability into their design practices.

We accomplish this by: fostering awareness of environmental, social, cultural and economic responsibility; providing principles, guidelines, standards, resources and recommendations accessible to support and encourage sustainability; developing educational materials to inform members, client, sponsors and the community at large of best practices in sustainable communications design; acting as advocates in the community and industry for sustainable design practices; and increasing the committee’s visibility.