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Development of Sustainable Indicators for Products and Processes

[+] Author Affiliations
Han P. Bao, Sundeep Bodapati

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

Paper No. DETC2011-48273, pp. 977-983; 7 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 31st Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Parts A and B
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5479-2
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Sustainable development is only a lofty goal as long as there is a lack of standard metrics and benchmark values to measure the performance of sustainable development. Measurement of sustainability has been articulated by researchers in several ways, but most definitions are based on the so-called Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach i.e., with Economic (Profit), Environment (Planet) and Social welfare (People) objectives. Individual measures were proposed by many researchers for these dimensions of sustainability using various indicators. The focus of this paper is on manufacturing processes and products, as opposed to services and organizational entities, it is meant to test the hypothesis that there is a concise subset to the wide range of indicators so far identified in the literature which could be applied to manufacturing processes and products. We wanted to address three issues: 1- What kinds of indicators can be used; 2- How often have they been used or, in other words, how relevant are they? and 3- Are there other indicators which may have been missing? Our primary approach was to look for real case studies in which the authors clearly intended their products to be officially declared as sustainable. All together we found 106 case studies which fit the purpose of our study in the Environmental Product Declaration (E.P.D., http://www.environdec.com). EPD is an organization which provides relevant, verified and comparable information to meet various customers and market needs. The categories of products in EPD range from food and beverage products to textile, wood, chemical, non-metallic mineral, basic metals, fabricated metal, machinery and equipment, and office machinery and computers. Each case study in EPD was carefully assessed with regards to the three issues indicated above, and the final result was the formation of a new set of indicators which will be more suitable for manufacturing processes and products. This new set of indicators, perhaps better described as a filtered set of indicators, was used in a case study to compare the sustainability of a Cathode Ray Tube (C.R.T.) and a Liquid Crystal Display (L.C.D.) desktop computer. Both of these products have been extensively documented by Sony Corporation and the EPA. They provided substantial quantitative data which enhance the validity of our own study. One other tangible result of our study was the determination of a “Sustainable Threshold“ for various products based on the 106 case studies indicated above. We wanted to submit the proposition that an aggregated score determined as indicated in our work can serve as a reliable measure for sustainability.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Sustainability



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