Product designers, architects, interior designers, and graphic designers are particularly influential in design decisions that affect our limited resources and the quality of our shared habitat. The new 2014 Okala Practitioner guide is organized for working designers, educators, and students in all design disciplines with practical methods for designing products, services and systems with low impacts to ecological health and human health.

Ecological design takes a holistic view of products and services, attending to the complete range of environmental impacts over the full cycle, from material extraction to end-of-life. Systemic tools such as the Ecodesign Strategy Wheel and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) help designers see the wider view and manage a depth of information to steer their work towards more ecologically responsible designs and ways of living.

life cycle

Okala Impact Factors are a designer-friendly form of LCA developed with robust North American science. They were designed for quick “back of an envelope” decision-making, so that an understanding of ecological impacts can be factored into design decisions as early as the concept phase. Okala Impact Factors have been calculated for more than 500 materials and processes employed in hard products, architecture, soft goods and electronic systems. They include a wide range of transportation, energy use, incineration and landfill processes, which allow modeling of environmental performance over the entire life cycle.

The guide is configured so that designers with limited time can easily find the core methods. Supplementary chapters describe topics in more depth, including the science of LCA, the condition of the planet, and the challenge of resolving social inequity. Overall the tools and information in this guide support informed dialogue and responsible decisions with your clients, supervisors and design team members.


As a designer working in the early, conceptual stages of design and innovation, I find that the Okala Practitioner serves as a useful and accessible framework for integrating Ecodesign into the process from day one.

- Greg Burkett, Senior Designer, IDEO

Okala gives the assurance of better environmental outcomes, and expands understanding of the development teams, while supporting our competitive advantage.

- Steve Malchow, VP of Operations, Engineering and Sourcing, Trek Bicycle Corp

Okala Practitioner is the definitive guide for design professionals - a must have resource that provides accessible and intelligent methods for life cycle assessment, frameworks for innovation and up-to-date data that will inform both designer and client.

- Debera Johnson, Executive Director, Pratt Center for Sustainable Design Strategies

This concise, textbook-worthy guide offers understanding of the problems and solutions at a big-picture level, a toolbox of strategies for use on a day-to-day level, examples of success, and the connections between.

- Jeremy Faludi, Sustainable Design Strategist and Researcher

Every choice that designers make during the design process has an ecological impact. The Ecodesign Strategy Wheel, combined with the Okala Impact Factors, offers a simple way for designers to focus on the areas with the greatest potential to minimize that impact.

- Eric Park, Creative Director, Ziba, Paul Backett, Industrial Design Director, Ziba

I have recommended the original Okala Ecological Design guide since it came out, and I agree with colleagues who find that it's still one of the best available publications on the topic. I'm confident that Okala Practitioner will prove equally enduring!

- Ann Thorpe, Author, The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability and
Architecture & Design vs Consumerism