Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

ICoRD’15 – Research into Design Across Boundaries Volume 2. Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies


Thayer School of Engineering


Product companies generally see sustainability as a burden limiting their design process, similar to cost or safety limits. A method for sustainable design was created, attempting to turn sustainability from a burden into an innovation tool with inherent business value. The method combines creative whole-systems thinking with quantitative sustainability metrics. It facilitates innovation by the creation of visual whole-system maps that encourage more thorough and more radical brainstorming. It facilitates sustainability by using quantitative measurements, such as lifecycle assessment or point-based certification systems, to set priorities and choose final designs. The method has been anecdotally tested in classes at four universities, and many of the companies partnering with these classes have said the students provided both sustainability and feature / functionality benefits. This paper also compares the method to Lindahl's nine recommendations for being useful to engineering designers. Thus there is at least anecdotal evidence that the design method may turn sustainability from a burden into an innovation tool. Future studies should compare the method against industry-leading innovation and green design methods.



The attached article is the author's submitted manuscript. The publisher's final pdf version cannot be shared due to publisher copyright restraints.