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Sustainability Assignment: Critical Review on Dfx methodology


Task: In this sustainability assignment you are required to write a ~2000 word report that critically reviews a DfX methodology of your choosing.


Design for X, or Dfx is a design methodology wherein X can be any attribute, such as reliability, sustainability, maintainability, and likewise. It is necessary that the design of a specific product is adequate so that its manufacturing and development can be appropriately done. Also, the end-user experience will be enhanced only when the product will have the effective design(Arnette et al., 2014). There are several attributes that are included under the design for X methodology. The discussion and exploration of the sustainability attribute is done in the report.

Design for Sustainability in sustainability assignment

Design for Sustainability – Overview

There is a lot of ecological disturbance that has been caused and the industrial manufacturing practices and the resulting wastes contribute towards the same. The eco-design methodology can assist the designers to adopt the design strategies to bring down the environmental impact of a specific product for the entire lifecycle of the product. The approach; however, does not focus much on the users’ behavior and usage to meet the design goals. The users also have a significant role in making sure that the sustainability development goals are met and the adverse implications on the environment are reduced(Albach et al., 2018).

The users need to be provided with the designs that can promote sustainability and this is the reasons that the designers are now determining the designs that can influence the user behavior towards sustainability. There are different mechanisms and strategies that are developed for this purpose and design for sustainability is one of the approaches towards the same. There are three primary attributes that come under the domain of sustainability. These include environment, economy, and society.

Design for Sustainability or Dfs is the term that is one of the attributes under the design for X concept and it includes a number of characteristics. Earlier, the designers primarily focussed on the aspects as environment and economy while developing the designs for sustainability. However, with further research and development, the social aspect shall also be included under the existing approach for Dfs(Battistoni et al., 2019).

Design for Sustainability – Triple Bottom
The figure that is depicted above shows the triple bottom for Dfs and showcases the various aspects that must be focussed upon so that the sustainability attribute is included in the design. The product shall be designed in such a manner that it comes with the ease of recycling along with the ease of disposal of the non-recycling elements.

Guidelines for Recommended Design Practices

There is a number of Design for X concepts that have their role and significance in the various stages of the lifecycle of a product(Celadyn, 2020). The design for sustainability aspect has a major role and involvement in the entire lifecycle of the product as showcased in the table below. For example, the design for environment will focus mainly on the usage and end of life phases as it will aim to bring down the impact of a product on the environment. Similarly, design for manufacturing focusses specifically on the manufacturing aspect of the product. The design for sustainability; however, is a concept that holds its relevance throughout the lifecycle.

Guidelines for Recommended Design Practices in sustainability assignment

It is essential to be aware of the standards and guidelines that are developed to have the sustainable design. There are standards that are required to provide the designers and manufacturers with the guidelines and understanding of the concept of sustainability and its inclusion in the design.

There has been an increased focus on the sustainable development since the past few years. It has resulted in the establishment of the standards in past two decades so that the guidelines for sustainable development are in place. These guidelines; however, are either too narrow or extremely broad in terms of the scope. The standards are defined to guide and influence the sustainability aspects of a product(Ceschin & Gaziulusoy, 2016).

ISO 14000 standards comprise of the systematic approach to bring down the environmental impact that are resulted because of the organizational activities. These standards comprise of the ISO 14020 series in order to have the environmental labels. These standards also comprise of various other standards, such as ISO 14040 includes the guidelines for the lifecycle assessment of the product and ISO 14064 includes the guidelines to control the greenhouse gases. All of these standards include the guidelines for sustainability(Ceschin & Gaziulusoy, 2020).

ISO 19011 is a standard that includes the guidelines to carry out the sustainability audits for quality and environmental management systems. Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment, WEEE is the directive for managing the waste that the industries generate(Goodship, 2015). The directive includes the guidelines that the manufacturers can follow to responsibly treat the waste. There shall be infrastructure available in order to recycle and reuse the waste equipment at the end of the lifecycle.

RoHS is a directive that is the abbreviation for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. The standard puts a limitation on the usage of some of the hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and many others(Fouche & Brent, 2020

The utilization of these standards shall be done by the designers and manufacturers so that the inclusion of sustainability is done in the design. There are 17 sustainable development goals that are also defined by the United Nations. These can be used as the objectives to develop the strategies and mechanisms for sustainable design.

Metrics for Evaluation
Sustainability Metrics

The measurement and evaluation of the product sustainability shall be done by using the effects in the areas as safety, renewable energy usage, and efficiency. The term recyclability refers to the ability to use the materials involved in the production and distribution stages for the other purposes in a closed loop. The safety aspect is not only associated with the human safety while using the product but also refers to the safety in terms of the air, water, land, and the atmosphere in generation while using the product. Also, the safety shall be measured during the production and distribution stages. Any of the byproducts shall also be safe for the environment(Gaziulusoy & Erdogan Oztekin, 2019).

High efficiency is the properly that illustrates the lesser use of energy along with water and other materials during the production and distribution stages of the product. The renewable energy usage is an indicator of the production and distribution of the material such that the cyclic usage of the material can be effectively done. The human rights shall be preserved and the social norms shall also be followed.

All of these aspects are measured under the aspect of sustainability metrics. For example, the determination of the efficiency rate is done in the percentage form.

Environment Metrics
There are a number of quantitative and qualitative metrics that are developed to come up with the eco-friendly designs and evaluate the same.

Some of the quantitative methods that are used include the determination of the material intensity per service unit which is also referred as MIPS. The cumulative energy demand, CED and Eco-indicator 95 are some of the quantitative metrics that are used to determine the aspect of eco-friendliness of the product(Hakio & Mattelmaki, 2019). There are also several qualitative methods that are used to understand the environmental design aspects in view of the sustainability of a product. The Kodak-Guidelines, referred as KGL, Eco-design Checklist method, ECM, etc. are some of the qualitative metrics that can be used.

The metrics that are developed to determine the aspect of eco-friendliness of the product can vary from one product to the other. These depend upon the specific characteristics of the product and the selection shall be accordingly done to determine and evaluate the environment and eco-friendly aspects of the product design.

There are several aspects that come under the domain of design for sustainability. One of the significant aspects associated with the same is energy. There is energy consumption that is involved during the entire lifecycle of a product. The consumption of the energy is done in the design and production stage along with the usage and disposal stages. The energy use can vary from one stage to the other and it also varies in terms of the product. There are metrics and standards that are defined to determine the energy use. For example, Energy Star is one of the parameters that are used to evaluate the energy consumption(Hsieh, 2020).

One of the most significant aspects is the determination of the carbon wastes and emissions from the industrial activities. The evaluation of the CO2 emissions is done to understand the sustainability aspect of the product design.

Tools, Approaches, and Methods
There are a number of tools and methods that are developed to make sure that the design for sustainability can be implemented at the different stages of the product lifecycle.

Structured Product Development
In many of the eco-design manuals, it is assumed that the design theory is known in advance. There are various European companies that begin with eco-design and these organizations do not comprise of the structured product development system. There are SMEs and large-scale organizations that deploy the industrial design engineers for the job. In various developing countries, the adoption of the eco-design is the first experience for a majority of the business firms.

There are various SMEs present in the developing countries that rely on the non-structured and informal procedure for design that is developed as per the practice experience. However, the preferred method to have the design for sustainability is to have the structured product development. The structured development includes the set of stages and steps to make sure that the step by step mechanisms are followed(Turki & Rezg, 2019).

Redesign Focus
The approach supports the selection of the reference product before the execution of the design for sustainability. There is primary focus that is provided to the new product development. The majority of the SMEs in the developing countries are currently presenting at the starting point of the learning curve. These organizations will carry on with the redesign of their current products as per the eco-design perspective. This will amalgamate the innovation, product development, and the sustainability aspect.

Another approach that is followed for design for sustainability is the benchmarking approach. The process of redesigning the product is basically considered as the benchmarking of the innovation process. There are a few common strategies that are followed by the business organizations to make sure that the benchmarking can be achieved. Some of these include the adoption of the lower price strategy and these generally compete with the products that are imported.

The comparison of the products is compared to understand the design aspects. Also, the use of the web and social media platforms is done to obtain the pictures of the products to determine and understand the changes and improvements that can be made in the design. For example, the eco-design approach that is followed in Europe is primarily focussed upon the innovation and redesign concept. In the developing countries, the focus is on the intelligent copying of the original approach(Turki & Rezg, 2019).

There are a few simplified tools that are present in the eco-design approach that is followed. These are usually complex and these require the insight to the aspects, such as environmental, social, and product development. LCD and LCA are the two tools that are of general nature and can be used for specific design practices. The 2D and 3D design software tools, such as 3DSmax can also be used to develop the design models.

The design for sustainability is a concept that includes various aspects and considerations. There are standards and guidelines that are developed along with the sustainable development goals to include sustainability as a significant aspect in the product design. There are mechanisms that can be followed to evaluate the design for sustainability. These include the sustainability metrics and environmental metrics. The usage of the specific tools and approaches shall be done to include sustainability in the design. These include the benchmarking approach, redesign approach, and structured product development. There are a few simplified tools that are also developed and can be used to include sustainability in the product design.

Albach, D. D. M., Razera, D. L., & Alves, J. L. (2018). Design for sustainability in future scenarios in the self-service food packaging sector. Strategic Design Research Journal, 11(3).

Arnette, A. N., Brewer, B. L., & Choal, T. (2014). Design for sustainability (DFS): the intersection of supply chain and environment. Journal of Cleaner Production, 83, 374–390.

Battistoni, C., Giraldo Nohra, C., & Barbero, S. (2019). A Systemic Design Method to Approach Future Complex Scenarios and Research Towards Sustainability: A Holistic Diagnosis Tool. Sustainability, 11(16), 4458.

Celadyn, M. (2020). Integrative Design Classes for Environmental Sustainability of Interior Architectural Design. Sustainability, 12(18), 7383.

Ceschin, F., & Gaziulusoy, I. (2016). Evolution of design for sustainability: From product design to design for system innovations and transitions. Design Studies, 47, 118–163.

Ceschin, & Gaziulusoy. (2020). Design for sustainability?: a multi-level framework from products to socio-technical systems. Routledge.

Fouche, E., & Brent, A. (2020). Explore, Design and Act for Sustainability: A Participatory Planning Approach for Local Energy Sustainability. Sustainability, 12(3), 862.

Goodship, V. (2015). Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) handbook. Woodhead Publishing Limited.

Hakio, K., & Mattelmaki, T. (2019). Future Skills of Design for Sustainability: An Awareness-Based Co-Creation Approach. Sustainability, 11(19), 5247.

Hsieh, H. C. L. (2020). Integration of Environmental Sustainability Issues into the “Game Design Theory and Practice” Design Course. Sustainability, 12(16), 6334.

Turki, S., & Rezg, N. (2019). Sustainable Supply Chain System Design and Optimization. Sustainability, 11(4), 1179.

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