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Is Porsche The King Of Sustainability?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 4, 2007

No really, I mean it. Thanks to great comment posted by a London graphic designer, Ben Terret, there is reason to call the sports car maker Porsche The King of Sustainability.

Why? 60% of all Porsche’s ever made are still on the road today. Now think about that.


What if 60% of all computers made were still in use and not in junkyards in China? What if 60% of all plastic water bottles we carry around made were still in use and not in dumps? Coffee cups? You get the picture.

Read Ben’s blog item for a powerful rif about how designers are responsible for all the disposable crap we make and throw away, polluting the planet—and he does it in a very amusing way.

Then Ben goes on to show how designers can also reduce all that crap if given a chance by their corporate clients. There’s one little rif on airplane flight patterns—if they can be redesigned, something like a fuel efficiency gain of 12% is possible. 12%!

Listen to what Ben says about redesigning airports:

“So I spoke to some air traffic controllers. They said that whilst that would work, you can’t just go around redesigning flight paths. There are all sort of restrictions. For example you can’t fly over Buckingham Palace.

But listen to their other ideas for making flight paths shorter, this is the exact words,

“Better airport signage = better retrieval of baggage = better turn around time for aircraft loading and unloading = more gates available through operating hours = more aircraft can be landed in a given time period = less aircraft time in the air waiting to land = less fuel wastage from circling aircraft.”

“Even better carry on luggage storage may mean less time loading/unloading = more gates available for a new plane to land at = less time in the air waiting to land. Maybe it’s not better storage but better carry on luggage.”

“Maybe it’s better exits in an aircraft - could the side of the aircraft just roll up?”

“Maybe the aircraft could be a “canister” carrier, unload the canister, pickup a new one and away you go.”

Let’s look at what they said there: Better airport signage. Better luggage storage. Better carry on luggage. Better exits. Just better aircraft. Aren’t these all design problems? Are you starting to see what I mean?”

Yep, I do Ben.

Reader Comments


October 4, 2007 4:08 PM

Good idea. But it is totally against market economy. For the economy to boom people have to comsume. If we never buy new stuff to replace what we have, the economy will go down the drain.

Gong Szeto

October 4, 2007 4:16 PM

these are some of the most brilliant ideas i've heard in a long long while. inspiring. thank you for sharing.

Solveig Mortensen

October 4, 2007 4:47 PM

Article re Porsche


October 4, 2007 7:22 PM

Ahhhhhh, the timeless (or nearly so) 911. Look at the door. The same design was used for 30 some odd years. When Lagaay, Porsche design director, was asked why they hadn't redesigned the new 911's door he simply answered; "it's a good door".


October 4, 2007 8:10 PM

As a frequent traveler, I love the idea of less time on the tarmac. Unfortunately, with regard to fuel savings, the logic in your argument is flawed. If plane A is allowed to land earlier, its only because plane B has taken off earlier. Either way, there's a plane in the air, burning fuel. In fact, greater efficiency on the ground means airlines can operate more flights per day (think Southwest Airlines), so this strategy actually increases fuel consumption.


October 10, 2007 8:12 AM

I had read before that 60% of their cars are still on the road. Indeed, a good friend of mine recently finished a restoration of a 911 from the early 1970s. And while the 60% number is impressive, there is at least one carmaker that has done better: Land Rover. Typically associated with polluting the Earth’s skies and oceans and the like, Land Rover has a long tradition of building sturdy cars that have lasted since the inception of the marque in the late 1940s. Incredibly, the 4 millionth Land Rover rolled off the assembly lines this year, and yet 70% of those 4 million are still in use today. Do SUVs pollute the atmosphere? No doubt about it. Land Rover gets more than its fair share of negative press, but at least this manufacturer’s cars are not all ending up in the landfill.


November 13, 2007 12:51 PM

Clint misses the point about fuel efficiency and flying time. The key is to reduce/eliminate CIRCLING aircraft. Planes that are burning fuel going NOWHERE. The point-to-point fuel consumption will presumably stay the same; it's the wastage due to process inefficiency that's relevant here. And aren't pretty much all travelers who want/need to go by air already doing so? How could there be a substantial increase in flights per day? Maybe the schedules will just be less stupid, and the ordeal less hellish.


August 14, 2008 9:34 PM

Great picture of that classic Porsche BTW :-)

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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