Design Workers Unite!

How can design-based R&D create jobs in-house, in manufacturing, and in communities?


Climate change will mandate such an overhaul of our global infrastructure that the transition process has been termed the “Green New Deal” in the United States, referencing the influx of job opportunities created in the U.S. following the Great Depression in the 1930s.

In many ways, the economy will grow exponentially as an effect of climate change, specifically in how we create jobs for pollution control, environmental regulation, and reusable goods production. The expansionary period to come has the potential to even reduce existing wealth disparities, particularly through public projects funded by governments worldwide.


Design industries have a critical role to play in providing job opportunities for climate change mitigation. Across its many disciplines, design industries will contribute to the following means of planning for an infrastructural transition:

  • Architects will be responsible for designing structures capable of withstanding natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, extreme heat, and wildfires
  • Industrial designers must reduce the amount of material that enters and exits the economy through more efficient product design
  • Fashion designers will have to reduce the pollutive impact of their industry while also creating garments that will be conducive to extreme weather patterns
  • Communications designers can leverage their skills to advocate for climate-positive planning and policymaking
To advocate for the role of design for sustainability, we aim to track how many jobs are created in studios, in manufacturing facilities, and in communities by design firms and agencies responding to climate change. In doing so, this project will not only validate the foundational role design industries play in the economy, but it will also enable quantifiable projections around just how many products and services have changed as an effect of climate change.

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