Credits: 3

Semesters Offered

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

Learning Objectives

  • Examine the opportunities for engineers in the sustainability arena –globally and in USA by understanding sustainability issues 
  • Learn the Design for Sustainability (DfS) principles with examples and how these principles can be applied in the systems engineering process
  • Learn the methods to measure the greenhouse gas emissions of various manufacturing processes
  • Demonstrate Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) databases to calculate greenhouse gas emissions
  • Introduce Life Cycle Costing (LCC) to quantify the cost associated with various engineering and manufacturing activities. 
  • Business Case Analysis (BCA) to develop a project proposal
  • Learn state of the art technologies in energy, transportation, and waste management sectors to improve sustainability


Topics Covered

  • Define sustainability. Facts and figures on depletion of non-renewable resources, ecological damage, risk to human health etc.
  • Facts and figures on GDP, poverty, and lifespan. Population growth. Ann and Paul Ehrlich equation. Ray Anderson video etc.
  • Carrying Capacity, Tragedy of the Commons, Resiliance, non-linear response, etc.
  • Innovation. Lead User Research.
  • Three legged stool (Government, Corporations, Consumer).
  • Sustainability and Design for Sustainability, Design for Recyclability, Design for Disassembly etc.
  • Introduction to LCA and first two steps in process based LCA. Step 1: Goal definition and scoping step 2: Life Cycle Inventory Analysis
  • Continuation of step 2 (NREL Database), and complete steps 3 & 4. Epidemiology and toxicology. EPA CAA
  • Fuel tank Example to demonstrate process based LCA. Advantages and disadvantages of process based LCA
  • Continue process based LCA. Carbon dioxide emission from electricity, natural gas, CNG etc. How much energy and CO2 emitted annually from an average US household?
  • EIO-LCA model illustration, example to demonstrate EIO-LCA model, variations of EIO-LCA model, comparison of process based LCA and EIO-LCA
  • Variations of EIO-LCA model, comparison of process based LCA and EIO-LCA
  • Life Cycle Costing
  • Introduction to LCA tools: Gabi and SimaPro (Dr. Mahesh Mani, NIST)
  • Design for Sustainability - 12 principles
  • Understand each of the DFS principles and the examples to demonstrate the principles
  • Apply these principles’ and the examples provided to create more sustainable design in your industry
  • Understand how these principles’ apply in Systems V process steps
  • DFS principles based on unit process - minimize material consumption, minimize energy consumption, minimize toxic emissions, optimize product lifespan, improve lifespan of material
  • Sector Analysis - Additive manufacturing and sustainability (Dr. Mahesh Mani, NIST)
  • Enviromentally Benign Manufacturing (Dr. Mahesh Mani, NIST)
  • Sector Analysis - Industrial, transportation, energy
  • Sector Analysis - Material - Bio plastics


Learning Outcomes

  • an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
  • an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  • an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  • an ability to communicate effectively
  • the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
  • a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  • a knowledge of contemporary issues
  • an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

Additional Course Information


Arul, Senthil


Not required. Class notes and reference material will be provided.

Class/Laboratory Schedule 

  • Two 75 minute lectures per week
Last Updated By 
Senthil Arul, July 2017