Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Alix Bent 

MA Design for Change

Alix is working as an Analyst Consultant at Ricardo Energy and Environment in the Sustainable Infrastructure and Operations Department in the London Offices. Alix recently completed an MA in Design for Change at IADT, her thesis looked at Environmental Shifts in Organisations with a focus on developing environmental sustainability practices for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Alix also holds a BSc in Landscape Architecture from UCD, as part of her bachelor’s degree course Alix gained international experience studying at Leibniz Universität Hannover. Alix has a real understanding of environmental issues and is passionate about supporting businesses to affect change.

Project Description

Change is possible at every level of society. As many people in Ireland are employed by Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) they are often overlooked as drivers of change. There is a real opportunity for SMEs in Ireland to make a valuable contribution in the fight against climate change. This thesis offers an insight into the environmental challenges facing SMEs in Ireland and explores the processes to design an environmental sustainability strategy and toolkit to help them to create a valuable contribution to the climate crisis.

Project Objectives

Explore existing environmental sustainability strategies and frameworks used by SMEs to reduce their carbon footprint using hard evidence from surveys and interviews.
Assess the effectiveness of environmental sustainability initiatives currently used by SMEs to address climate change.
Assist SMEs to implement effective strategies by designing a strategy and toolkit that can support and help them to make a valuable contribution to addressing climate change.

Project Outcomes

The output of the thesis focused on the strategic options and the development of a toolkit to be used by SMEs to assess both their positive and negative environmental impacts. All the research used in this project is grounded in real experience and feedback directly from SMEs giving greater validity to the strategy and toolkit developed. Facilitating a workshop for one of the SMEs and trialling the strategy plan and toolkit was extremely rewarding. It highlighted how with direction and support a small business can make a difference and become fully engaged in creating a more environmentally sustainable business. In addition, it afforded the chance to make improvements to the strategy. One of the big takeaways from conducting this thesis is that no business is too small to play their part in combating climate change.

Thesis Title

The Environmental Shift.
Designing Environmental Sustainability practices for SMEs in Ireland.