Trajectory of Environmentally Responsible Design

"An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing"

- Masanobu Fukuoka -

A big thanks to all of you for introducing us to Bill (one of the most masterful jobs of facilitation I have ever had the privilege of experiencing as evidenced by the fact that I never jumped up to the board once!). Honestly an amazing experience.

Paul and I decided you guys are the superhero team, mild mannered Clark Kent who when called into action shed that persona and reveal the Superheroes in terms of sheer depth and breadth of knowledge, competence, ability to articulate; passion. If we end up doing this multimedia production company on regenerative living every one of you have to be on our advisory committee (stay tuned for that).

So thanks again…you are all the best!

- Palo Alto, CA -

Our culture is growing in understanding of how to address and embrace the complexities of living systems. Designers are rapidly moving to create guidelines of practice that help us move beyond the boundaries of conventional scopes of work. IDC is a leader in living systems design processes.

Limiting the Damage (still Degenerating)

High Performance Design - Design that realizes high efficiency and reduced impact in the building structure, operations, and site activities. By focusing on technical efficiency, this design approach may limit embracing the larger natural system benefits.

Green Design - A general term implying a direction of improvement in design- i.e., continual improvement towards a whole and healthy integration of human activities with natural systems. Some people believe this is more applicable to buildings and technology.


Sustainable Design - See "Green Design" with an emphasis on reaching a point of being able to sustain the health of the planet's organisms and systems over time. Sustainability is an inflection point from degenerating to regenerating health.


Restorative Design - This approach thinks about design in terms of using the activities of design and building to restore the capability of local natural systems to a healthy state of self organization.

Regenerative Design - This starts with place-based design. By engaging all the key stakeholders and processes of the place – humans, earth systems, and the consciousness that connects and energizes them– the design process builds the capability of the people to engage in continuous and healthy relationship. There is continuous learning and feedback so that all aspects of the system are an integral part of the process of life in that place – co-evolution.

Whole System Integration Process - A process that seeks to optimize (make the best use of) the relationships among key systems and entities in the service of desired objectives. It's not a system if it doesn't have a purpose.

This process typically requires that the smallest unit of design be the largest manageable watershed within which the project resides. If we only work within the property boundaries, we are missing the point.


Sustainability, as currently practiced, addresses generalized and planetary issues by limiting the intensity of the damage we cause.

Regeneration is local in practice, and addresses how we partner and thrive in relationship with the unique social-ecological system of each place.