Unconventional methods to inform sustainable design: Mediating the needs of people and nature in Nordic after-dark environments

Urban developments are growing, and related design has evolved by putting human needs and interests first. In order to develop in a sustainable way, we urgently need to balance our needs with the needs of nature. Education and policymaking play crucial roles to provide balance for responsible practices, however, concrete data and knowledge is necessary to inform policy development. In this broader context, one focus area particularly relevant in Nordic countries is the use of electric light in after-dark outdoor environments, and the impact it has on flora, fauna, and energy use, as well as human behaviour and wellbeing. Our project strives to develop new knowledge crucial to design for sustainability in the urban after-dark. Our strategy is to bring relevant disciplines together with representatives from design, technology, psychology and ecology to:

  • Investigate the topic of sustainable after-dark design in a holistic way that, while supporting human needs, minimizes energy use, light pollution, and negative impacts on wildlife
  • Support innovation within each discipline involved and generate evidence for sustainable, research driven design practices and policymaking
  • Collaborate with organizations and municipalities to assure evidence-based application and practice
  • Foster awareness about the interaction between human and wildlife under urban lighting conditions
  • Develop methods for an interdisciplinary, more-than-human-centric design approach
  • Develop digital twin tools to support designing, planning and simulating more-than-human-centric urban lighting conditions as well as data integration, analysis and visualization

With this proposal, we actively support and bridge the following development goals set forth by Agenda 2030: Good health and wellbeing (#3), Sustainable cities and communities (#11), Responsible consumption and production (#12), and Life on land (#15). Within the research framework our group will contribute to:

  • Practices that promote perceived safety and well-being in green pockets embedded in urban environments
  • Practices to enable access to public green spaces
  • Information for education and policy to raise awareness of evidence-based practices for sustainable development and lifestyles in better harmony with nature
  • Encouragement of the adoption of sustainable practices
  • Development of digital twin tools, knowledge and guidance to integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values and opportunities into design, planning and development