Why Should You Read This Guide?
There are probably as many reasons to read this guide as there are people reading it. That said, design engineers will want to incorporate sustainability principles into their work for at least one of four general reasons.
Many people are drawn to sustainable design because they want to use their talents and expertise to make the world a better place. As naïve as that sentiment might seem, it is a powerful driver behind a great deal of innovation and creative engineering. And, given the state of the world today, we could use all the help we can get.
Sustainable design is becoming a growth area, with many companies needing designers and engineers who have experience incorporating environmental impact considerations into product development. In fact, Forbes magazine included Industrial Designer in its list of ten “six-figure green jobs,” going on to say that “postings for environment-related jobs on TheLadders.com, a job search site for $100,000-a-year and more jobs, have increased by 25% over the past year.” Even if it’s not the central pillar of a designer’s job, it will increasingly become a standard component of the design process, so it’s best to get ahead of the curve.
Many readers may be here not because of their own interest, but because sustainable design is part of a company initiative. Whether driven by stockholders, customers, or senior leadership, “sustainability” is increasingly on corporate agendas. While social and environmental responsibility is often at the root of such efforts, many companies are also finding that sustainable design is just “good business.” Through it, companies find new ways to decrease material and energy costs, and increase revenue through resulting new product innovations.
In many markets, regulations restrict the use of certain materials in products manufactured and sold there. For instance, in the European Union the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive places strict guidelines on the use of specific materials in the manufacture of various electronics. Because this directive applies to products imported to, as well as made in, the EU, it impacts manufacturers worldwide. While adhering to sustainable design principles doesn’t necessarily assure compliance with such directives, these practices do support increased attention to exactly the issues that such regulations are intended to address, such as the toxicity of certain substances.
Whether you are learning about sustainable design and engineering because you want to be, or because you need to be, this guide will help you develop a better understanding of the topic, along with the tools and techniques that will enable you to design more environmentally responsible products.
 Throughout the guide, the term “product” is used to describe the object being designed, whether an actual consumer product, machined part, piece of equipment, or other component or assembly.
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