© 2013 - Institute for Sustainable Design
Washington State University

IDX — Integrated Design Experience

Developing Sustainable Solutions That Address Real World Issues

To pioneer and catalyze changes to the infrastructure and built environment that facilitate a sustainable future. Our goal is to develop and deliver the professionals, scholarship, and leadership necessary for society to realize the materials, fuels, products and infrastructure of our sustainable future by improving our natural resource use while being economically viable, socially acceptable, and aesthetically pleasing.

The Integrated Design Experience will focus on real projects, serving as a supplement to actual ongoing design and construction with the possibility to enhance the owners, industry and communities. Our version of a sustainable design experience will address challenging design focused projects that require an integration of disciplines to develop inspired designs. This program will unite both undergraduate (seniors) and graduate (MS) from a variety of design and engineering disciplines. Similar level students from supporting disciplines depending on the project requirements will augment these groups. These may include landscape architecture (low impact development), engineering management (minimizing life-cycle costs) electrical engineering (distributed renewable energy), computer science (human interface development), etc. Project outcomes will include comprehensive project design, analysis of complex components, and practice-oriented journal papers

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Current Project

WMC biofuels project

As part of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), IDX is working in the Western Montana Corridor (WMC) to assist communities in identifying and realizing the opportunities available to them for participating in the biomass to biofuels supply chain.

Student teams are working with the Montana Forest Products Retention Roundtable to look at specific assets in the WMC region including identifying and designing depot sites (biomass preprocessing facilities) and conversion facilities. A supply chain team will analyze transportation and economic costs associated with various alternative options.

2-hour drive with volume rings 2-hour drive with volume rings


WSDOT ferries project

Students developed a conceptual design for the following Washington State Ferry Terminals:

  • Bainbridge
  • Seattle Colman
  • Fauntleroy
  • Vashon

The goals of the Washington State Ferries Terminal Engineering Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) were to:

  • Develop a sustainable transportation plan.
  • Develop sustainable design standards for stormwater treatment and building materials.
  • Use Low Impact Development (LID) techniques to control and treat stormwater.

The projects show how sustainable and LID design techniques can be incorporated at the ferry terminals listed above. Design components included redesign of ferry terminal buildings, stormwater treatment facilities, traffic patterns and queuing locations, etc. During the first semester of the class, students analyzed the site and map features integral to design. Tools used to analyze the site included ArcGIS, InDesign, Sketchup, and Diagramming. During the second semester of the class (students are welcome to take one or both semesters), students used the information generated during the fall to design the ferry terminals. Tools used for design included Revit and Civil3D.


AUBURN project

The AUBURN project was a year long academic design course at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. IDX partnered with the City of Auburn to develop innovative stormwater strategies at multiple scales in the built environment. The Spring 2011 semester was a continuation of the year-long collaboration with Auburn. In Fall 2010, allied engineering and architecture courses proposed multiple conceptual urban and sustainable design strategies. The spring section brings the disciplines directly together in a design studio format to work in integrated teams to create one large vision for the Auburn and to develop relevant strategies to a 20% construction document level. This level is defined as a proof of concept milestone where external professional firms could theoretically pick up the design ideas and further develop for actual bidding and construction.

Goals for this studio were to have every student exit with strong collaborative research, questioning, and design methods to utilize in their academic and professional work. The focus was on developing open-source design thinking processes that foster innovation across multiple disciplines of research and practice.


smartFARM project

The Smart Farm provided a model for organic agricultural processes that incorporates technology, comfortable living spaces, educational opportunities, and compassion and connectivity to the surrounding community. The Smart Farm stems from a holistic view of global interrelationships; specifically environmental, economic, and social needs.

Each system and sub-system is linked together by a constant interchange of resources. The interaction between these systems make the world we live in complex and interesting, but also very fragile. When a force causes just one sub-system to move out of equilibrium, the result is an imbalance throughout the entire system. Our real and perceived needs as human beings have led us to lifestyles that cannot be repeated in the future. By design, the Smart Farm will positively impact the environment and future generations.

There is a common misconception that the environment and social infrastructure are deteriorating slowly, and there is plenty of time to repair it. However, this is only true when comparing it to the speed in which we encounter our immediate needs on a daily basis. This misguided thought has led society to value instant gratification over long-term sustainability. False senses of entitlement and poorly chosen priorities have developed as a result. Humans have manipulated relationships that were not, and can never be, fully understood. The result? We are depleting our resources, deepening social rifts, negatively impacting the natural environment, and starving our economic future.

In essence, the Smart Farm represents a realization that sustaining human life, needs, and desires for the future requires a drastic change in our lifestyles today. The Smart Farm will be a repeatable and scalable model to prove that change is not only possible, but desirable.