University of Vermont

Ecological Design is the process of integrating humans with the rest of nature in order to create a sustainable and desirable future. The term Ecological Design has often been used to refer to the process of designing the built-environment to better reflect ecological principles and processes. But it goes further than that. Ecological Design needs to happen at many spatial and temporal scales — from individual buildings to regional watersheds, from rural villages to global megacities, from physical relationships to intellectual development, it encompasses human intervention at all levels.

Ecological Design sees all systems as complex, adaptive systems, whether they contain human actors or not. Ecological Design therefore takes a systems approach. This perspective is essential if one hopes to reintegrate humans with the rest of nature and begin to heal the ecosystems we co-habit. Ecological Design employs transdisciplinary integration, cooperative energy, creative synthesis, and true participatory problem-solving to understand and resolve increasingly complex issues.