On Saturday, March 25, 2017, Pratt’s CSDS will host the 7th annual Sustainability Crash Course, a day-long series of presentations, panel discussions and workshops with a host of experts from Pratt’s faculty and elsewhere.  In years past we have had over 20 different speakers present topics including Ecology, Biomimicry, Packaging Design, Life-Cycle Assessment, Fashion, Architecture, Policy and Environmental Activism. This year we have an entirely new line up of exciting and inspiring presenters. As in the past, the event is free and open to the Pratt Community as well as the general public, but registration is required. View the eventbrite page.

View videos of ongoing and past presentations on our Youtube Channel.


Pratt Institute – 200 Willoughby Avenue.
Engineering Building. Brooklyn, NY 11205


Presentation Schedules

10:00am – 10:50am

Built Practices/Built Ecologies
Indoor Environmental Quality = Quality of Life
Sustainable daylighting with the latest PV

11:00am – 11:50am

Will the next Alexander McQueen be a Biologist?
Biophillic Design: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Professional Practice
Art the Changes the World

1:30pm – 2:20pm

Design Responsibility: A New Generation of Eco-Smart Textiles
Sustainable Touch Points: A media agnostic approach to sustainable design
Book Launch for “Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective” by Carl Zimring

2:40pm – 4:10pm

Marketing ethical, fair trade, and sustainable brands
The Plastic Bag Mandala Project & Workshop
Upcycle This! Creative Challenge

4:10pm – 5:30pm Closing Reception


Upcycle This!  Creative Challenge

Bunny Yan. CEO of the Squirrelz 

Bunny Yan is a Fashion Institute of Technology (New York) graduate who’s been working in the marketing and design industry for over 15 years. While living in China, Bunny was confronted with the large-scale waste problem among manufacturers, especially in the textile and fashion industry. She started her company with a focus on upcycling these new pre-consumer materials and leading designers to discover these reusable treasures. As one of the experts in this field, Bunny is continually exploring how to reduce waste through creativity and educating key stakeholders including manufacturers and the design community. Upon returning to New York, she launched her free material sharing app ‘Squirrelz’ to reduce community leftovers and waste among creatives.

Marketing ethical, fair trade, and sustainable brands

Andrea will explore the ever changing dialogue between customers and brands. Who is getting it right? Learn how to create a dynamic brand experience while keeping the message simple, concise, and clear. 

Andrea Reyes is the chair of the NYC Fair Trade Coalition. She currently works as an adjunct professor at LIM and Berkeley College teaching a variety of classes within the fashion industry. Andrea is also a small business owner. A. Bernadette was created in collaboration with her sister, Amberle, after living in Uganda. A. Bernadette works with artisans in Uganda creating accessories, home goods, and more from recycled/upcycled materials. She has received multiple degrees from various programs at F.I.T. including pattern making, International Trade and Marketing, as well as a masters in Global Fashion Management.

Sustainable Touch Points: A media agnostic approach to sustainable design

Whether one is designing complex systems and experiences or discrete objects, sustainable outputs must meet the needs of consumers and be economically viable. This presentation explores the challenges faced by designers working sustainably and examines areas where specific interventions and strategies can improve the ethical and environmental performance of products. By acknowledging the difficulties designers face, it is possible to identify particular areas of strength and to acknowledge where further improvements are needed. The presentation includes information about touch points for sustainable practice. These touch points, which have been adapted from the text Sustainable Thinking: Ethical Approaches to Design and Design Management (Sherin, 2013), provide an overview of the constraints and opportunities designers often face as they navigate the realties of creating market-ready socially and environmentally sensitive design solutions.  While they may not be applicable to every project, they are useful markers because they provide an overview of target areas which need to be considered when one is trying to produce a sustainable product or experience.

Aaris Sherin is an educator, writer, and designer. She is a professor of graphic design at St. John’s University in Queens, New York where she teaches classes on typography, sustainable design, packaging and advanced projects. Sherin is the author of a number of books including Sustainable Thinking: Ethical Approaches to Design and Design Management (Fairchild Books 2013), Design Elements: Using Images to Create Graphic Impact (Rockport, 2008), Design Elements: Color Fundamentals (Rockport, 2011) and SustainAble: A Handbook of Materials and Applications for Graphic Designers and Their Clients (Rockport, 2008). As guest editor of GroveArt (Oxford University Press), Sherin supervised the addition of more than thirty entries on women designers as part of the 2006 Women in the Arts update. Her writing has been featured in publications such as PRINT magazine, STEP Inside Design, Form, Leonardo (MIT Press), and Design and Culture. In her research Sherin addresses complex issues including the environment, creative thinking, and innovative problem solving methodologies that can occur across media and disciplines.


Built Practices/Built Ecologies:

Despite people’s best intentions, we live in a time and place where sustainability is consumed like every other commodity or product. This negates the true aim of sustainability as a project, which is to change the way we behave. This talk will look at how design can embody the complex ecology of production practices and the built environment to make sustainable design. We will look at how we have to build our day to day practices on the model of ecological systems in order to design and produce systems that are ecologically impactful, and use the time to look deeper into both processes and projects that embody this ethos.

Demetrios Comodromos is a practicing architect and founder of New York City based Method Design Architecture + Urbanism, PLLC—an award winning architecture and design studio in New York City.  He is also the Rensselaer School of Architecture Professor of Practice, and director of undergraduate design at the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology, and teaches Building Systems at Pratt. 


Art that Changes the World

We will go through a history of using art for activism and review work by several collectives to show how art can shift a popular narrative to build people power. After Q & A, we will attempt a group activity to make a “cantastoria” by working together using consensus.

Kim Fraczek is the Director of Sane Energy Project, a 6 year old, NY-based grassroots organization fighting fracking infrastructure via direct action and long-term campaign planning with a bottom-up approach to a transition of justice to community owned renewables. She is a co-founder of the People’s Puppets born in October 2011 during Occupy Wall St. The collective builds giant narrative art for the streets, and also teaches and offers free studio space to social justice groups wanting to enhance their actions with visual messaging.


Will the next Alexander McQueen be a Biologist?

Join Brooklyn Fashion+Design Accelerator founder Deb Johnson Smart Product Developer Dawn Moses to learn about how technology and science are taking on some of the larger challenges facing the planet. Learn about emerging bio-tech materials grown in labs that will replace silks and leathers, cottons that use synthetic DNA to track the supply chain for your t-shirt along with other exciting technological advances are redefining how we make, buy and think about our clothes. 


Indoor Environmental Quality = Quality of Life

All around our interior environments, we find conditions that affect our psyche and work production in negative ways. This presentation is prepared to mitigate these environmental stresses. The focus will be on how to influence the design of interior by exploring sustainable principles and process of creating ecologically sound environment. After this, you will be able to apply the knowledge directly to one’s wellness and healthier spatial conditions. You will be able to examine the interior in a different light than ever before!

Tetsu Ohara is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Departmental Sustainability Coordinator in the School of Design at Pratt. His commitment to integrating “smart design” (sustainable solutions as part of the design proposal) has been resulted in graduate students’ works since 2007.  He teaches qualifying level core design studio and interior options lab (Sustainability + Biomimicry). Also he leads Pratt Sustainability Coalition in order to organize the 12th annual GreenWeek (campus wide event showcasing green proposal/ideas/seminars/lectures).  With an architectural degree from College of Environmental Design at U.C. Berkeley, he uses his knowledge to engage in lectures about Sustainability in NYC. He is a partner at SpatialDesignStudio, Inc. practicing interior architecture in Asia, Europe and the U.S.



Upcycling what you already have is one of the most eco-friendly things you can do. For example, you can use empty jam jars as drinking glasses and oatmeal bowls to go, instead of buying new mason jars at the store.
During this upcycling workshop, we will be tackling two huge problems: single-use plastic bags AND waste from fast fashion. So, bring your old t-shirt and a crafty-collaborative attitude to our workshop where we will be upcycling old t-shirts into reusable tote bags that speak up for all the things you believe in.

Many countries and cities around the world have banned or are in the process of banning single-use plastic bags and other disposable plastics. However, the debate to rid New York of single-use plastic bags has been a long one. Unfortunately, earlier this year in New York, the law to ‘tax’ single-use plastic bags was killed a day before it was to come into effect. This has revived the need to push our lawmakers and our communities to say no to single-use plastic bags, take action and find better alternatives.

Conceived by Pratt design students as both a participatory art project and way to engage the public in dialogue around the environmental harms of single-use plastic bags, The Plastic Bag Mandala first took shape during a collaboration with Grow NYC and the Union Square Market in 2012.

The public was invited to bring their used plastic bags in exchange for a new reusable bag and then they were asked to weave their old plastic bags into the giant mandala while pledging to use the reusable bags. During this time educational information was available with statistics about plastics and recycling so that New Yorkers could better understand the issues.
Mandala (sanskrit for circle) is a symbolic form that represents the universe as well as the interconnectivity of mind and environment. The shape was chosen as a reminder that we are all connected and that we all claim a stake in each other’s future well being.

The project has been traveling around the city ever since, and has visited schools, farmers markets and festivals in order to raise awareness and continue the dialogue about the plastic bag issue. As part of this special project presentation at the Sustainability Crash Course, participants are invited to bring an old t-shirt to upcycle into a reusable tote.

Charlene Sequeira is a design strategist and recent graduate of the MS Communications Design program at Pratt. In her ten years of professional design experience, Charlene has been involved in strategic design, branding, advertising, publishing, retail design, events, community engagement and transformation design across Dubai, Mumbai, Muscat and New York City. On this journey she has developed a sense of global citizenship and nurtured a keen interest in the intersection of design thinking, education and sustainability.

Pursuing her passion, Charlene became the Co-Founder of ‘The Plastic Bag Mandala Project’ in 2012. She has also designed K-12 teaching material and methods that address pertinent environmental and cultural issues, and is currently developing a framework for sustainable cultures called Compassionate Systems Design. She is always looking to collaborate, solve problems, hug animals, and use design to positively impact communities.



By 2050 we are being told that the population will increase 33%, energy demands will increase 50% and water dependency will increase by 30%. So what will your garment be doing 20 years from today – will it be part of the ongoing environmental crisis or leading the way toward change? It is imperative that fashion designers, merchandisers, production and marketing make a connection between the fashion industry and well-being.

There have been many approaches toward sustainability, however most of the fashion industry, a multi-billion dollar global industry, has continued to be slow at embracing the necessary steps to activate change as an integral part of a new smarter business model. James will present a new generation of eco-smart solutions that inspire fashion design and creativity, as well as offer significant reductions in water, CO2 and energy consumption.

Eco Values = A Smart Business

James Mendolia is an energetic educator exceptional at building innovative fashion curriculum, as well as executive and professional workshops thanks to his past academic experience, which included ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP at Parsons School of Design.  He brings these skills along with extensive fashion career experience in merchandising, sourcing, design education, international business and textile research and development to FIT’s MFA Fashion Design program.

He has presented work related to DESIGN RESPONSIBILITY, Future Fashion Systems, Online Education, and Design Education to universities and fashion companies in Europe, Asia, Mexico and the United States. His current research is in direct response to the global movement to generate a sustainable preference in today’s changing marketplace. An experienced fashion professional, he creates programs that introduce participants to a new generation of textile technologies and training that include supply chain assessment, hands-on material analysis, luxury fashion, and interactive ECO-FASHION WORKSHOPS. 

In 2015, Mendolia partnered with C.L.A.S.S., the Milan based eco platform, to create C.L.A.S.S. Education a new division dedicated to introducing eco-smart solutions that offer significant reductions in water, CO2 and energy to empower like-minded fashion professionals and emerging designers to transform their current business model and ACTIVATE CHANGE.

Book Launch for “Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective” by Carl Zimring

The Pratt Institute seeks to teach its design students sustainable design strategies. This weekend, we launch a book that examines one of these strategies using the case of aluminum. Beginning in 1886 with the discovery of how to mass produce aluminum, the book examines the essential part the metal played in early aviation and the world wars, as well as the troubling expansion of aluminum as a material of mass disposal. Recognizing that scrap aluminum was as good as virgin material and much more affordable than newly engineered metal, designers in the postwar era used aluminum to manufacture highly prized artifacts, effectively upcycling discarded material decades before the term’s adoption. Zimring takes us on a tour of post-1940s design, examining the use of aluminum in cars, trucks, airplanes, furniture, and musical instruments from 1945 to 2015.

By viewing upcycling through the lens of one material, Zimring deepens our understanding of the history of recycling in industrial society. Along the way, he challenges common assumptions about upcycling’s merits and adds a new dimension to recycling as a form of environmental absolution for the waste-related sins of the modern world. Zimring will discuss the book and have copies for sale and signing.

Carl Zimring is an environmental historian interested in the ways in which attitudes concerning waste shape society and institutions. His first book, Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America (Rutgers University Press, 2005) documents how changing ideas about material reuse from colonial times to the end of the twentieth century shaped the scrap recycling industry.  He is general editor of The Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage (Sage Publications, 2012), and serves as associate professor in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at the Pratt Institute, where he founded the Sustainability Studies minor in 2013.  Prior to arriving at Pratt, he co-founded the Sustainability Studies program at Roosevelt University and taught environmental history for several years at Oberlin College. His doctorate in history is from Carnegie Mellon University and he has been an Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results fellow, an American Society for Environmental History Samuel P. Hays research fellow, and a scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institute Libraries. Aluminum Upcycled is Zimring’s third book.

Sustainable daylighting with the latest PV

Design research and development of photovoltaic colored glass which both generates electricity but also admits daylight as incorporated in skylights, roofs and south facades from on-going work in the Christina Porter Memorial Lighting Lab, Pratt Institute School of Architecture.

Brent Porter, Adjunct Professor of the School of Architecture, is in his 44th year at Pratt where among his on-going teaching is his role as head of the Christina Porter Memorial Lighting Lab. It is exploring sustainable skylights, building facades including the “window wall,” thermal wall components for daylighting in Canada, integration of photovoltaics and green roofs, and commitment to solar access — while at the same time, experimenting with a variety of LED and other lighting fixtures. His practice as an architect is engaged in a number of sustainable renovations, restorations and new facilities.
The on-going work of sustainability within the historic Machu Picchu has led to his team’s addressing the town below where 800,000 people arrive and depart each year, yet one-third of the roofs and top floors are incomplete with vertical rebars evident of the lack of sustainability which must be resolved.

Biophillic Design: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Professional Practice

The panel will explore the application of biophilic strategies from various practitioners. Moderator: Jaime Stein from Pratt Institute.

Tetsu Ohara
Tetsu Ohara is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Departmental Sustainability Coordinator in the School of Design at Pratt. His commitment to integrating “smart design” (sustainable solutions as part of the design proposal) has been resulted in graduate students’ works since 2007.  He teaches qualifying level core design studio and interior options lab (Sustainability + Biomimicry). Also he leads Pratt Sustainability Coalition in order to organize the 12th annual GreenWeek (campus wide event showcasing green proposal/ideas/seminars/lectures).  With an architectural degree from College of Environmental Design at U.C. Berkeley, he uses his knowledge to engage in lectures about Sustainability in NYC. He is a partner at SpatialDesignStudio, Inc. practicing interior architecture in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

Jonce Walker
Urban Planner
Terrapin Bright Green
Jonce is a senior project manager with over ten years of experience advancing sustainability. His background includes sustainability policy, green building consulting, urban planning, and community improvement interventions. His expertise at Terrapin ranges from biophilic design to net zero energy communities. A native New Mexican, his passion is to integrate nature and urban places to improve human health and wellbeing.

Narada Golden
Narada is a Principal at YR&G and co-leads the Design and Construction team. He has over 17 years of experience in architectural design and construction, building performance and cost-benefit analysis, human-centric design, integrative project management, and thought leadership in the field of green building. He has worked on a wide range of commercial, educational, institutional, residential, cultural, lab, manufacturing, and master plans projects–both nationally and internationally. Narada has spoken extensively on sustainability and green building, healthy building environments, integrative design, and building performance.He has also led a variety of sustainability trainings for corporate, government, and educational clients and facilitated large public and private workshops focused on net-zero energy and water neighborhoods, building occupant health and engagement, and green codes.

Helena van Vliet, AIA
Principal, Helena van Vilet Architecture
Helena van Vliet AIA is a Biophilic Architect, Researcher & Speaker on Health and the Built Environment. She is Principal in charge at Helena van Vliet Architect LLC. Helena considers Architecture a Health Care Profession, and has made the creation of spaces, which foster positive emotional connection to place her primary area of exploration. She views human attachment to and caring for place as essential for true sustainability as well as for physiological well-being. Helena is a biophilic consultant and facilitates biophilic design workshops and design charrettes. She is a contributor at the biophilic design hub Human Spaces, and a steering committee member for the Biophilic Cities Network. Locally, she is the founder of bioPhilly, a grass roots organization, which seeks to promote wild habitat biodiversity in Philadelphia. Helena is a guest speaker at various universities on the connection between architecture and health. She works with selected graduate and PhD students on thesis projects in biophilic sustainable design.