ENME 489E - Design for Sustainability

3 Credits


Arul, Senthil


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


This course looks at various definitions of sustainability and examines what it means to corporations, consumers and policy makers.  It looks at sustainability from global perspective and scopes the opportunity for engineers in the USA.  The course introduces 12 Design for Sustainability (DfS) principles and elaborates with examples that engineers can use to design sustainable products and processes.
The course will have: (1) Five (5) assignments, (2) a closed book mid-term examination, and (3) a finals will have a choice:  Either a team project focused on developing a business case for a sustainable design/process or an examination (requires access to internet).


  • 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 


  • 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

Class/Laboratory Schedule 

  • Two 75 minute lectures per week

Last Updated By 
Senthil Arul, July 2017