A multi-stakeholder abridged environmentally conscious design approach

  • Francis O'Connor

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Environmental concerns play an increasingly important role in product design. As these concerns have mounted, so have academic and industrial research efforts into ways to reduce the environmental impact of products through approaches such as Environmentally Conscious Design (ECD). Existing research has not yet sought to understand the role of stakeholders in ECD. New ECD approaches and techniques will have to be able to adapt and interface effectively with various stakeholders in the design and development process and throughout the life cycle of a product to ensure that both single and multiple life cycle issues are considered. They will need to be able to assist in selecting a suitable life cycle strategy, analyzing designs and suggesting possible improvement methods. An exploratory multi-method research approach was chosen which involved the use of numerous qualitative and quantitative methods including surveys (questionnaires and informal interviews), industrial case studies and a focus group. The research explored the role of stakeholders in ECD, and developed a new methodology for integration of a novel stakeholder 'body of knowledge' through an abridged life cycle approach. It showed how ECD relies on the close co-operation and input of many different stakeholders both within and external to a company. The 'body of knowledge', a set of criteria representative of stakeholder views and opinions, had been gathered from a range of stakeholders over the life cycle of a number of electromechanical products and their packaging. The 'body of knowledge' is of global benefit with the data and weightings having the potential to be modified for different products. It also has the potential to be continually updated through consultation with other stakeholders and further case studies. The approach is based on an analyze-report-prioritize-improve framework and utilizes a clearly defined step-by-step procedure for assessing, scoring and subsequently reducing, the environmental impacts of products with single or multiple life cycles. It uses techniques such as life cycle strategy worksheets, flow diagrams, and matrices, with predetermined environmental categories, profiling, tailor-made guidelines and checklists. The approach contains an in-built mechanism for incorporating stakeholder requirements and strategies in the process. The paper-based 'Multi-Stakeholder Abridged ECD Approach' is quick and easy to use and of immediate value to the company with stakeholder participation and co-operation the key to its success. It ensures that multi-criteria value judgements are not based on an individual assessor, but a group of stakeholders, the Life Cycle Team members, who participate at predetermined stages of the ECO process. The data is generalized for a range of electromechanical products. The approach can be implemented as part of a Green Concurrent Engineering process, for re-designing an electromechanical product and its packaging or comparing alternative designs.

    In summary, in fulfilling the research needs the thesis presents an original contribution to knowledge in the field of ECO through the development and validation of a novel abridged ECD approach. The thesis also identifies areas of further work that will increase the knowledge base, scope and applicability of the work carried out.
    Date of AwardSept 2000
    Original languageEnglish

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