Tools for Design and Sustainability

Tools for Design and Sustainability


As engineers and designers, what you create will impact the world we live in. To help solve the global issues we face today, it’s more important than ever to invent products and services that help people and the world.

Inventing green can mean inventing a technology whose whole purpose is sustainability (like carbon sequestration or eliminating waste) or it can mean improving the environmental impacts of ordinary products, from material choice to energy use to changing users’ lifestyles. For many companies, being environmentally responsible is also good business. By using a mindset of “inventing green,” you can: save material costs with more efficient production methods; reduce liability risks associated with the manufacture or disposal of toxic materials; and meet customer demand for products that are safer for their families or less energy-intensive to use.

This site is for you: designers, inventors, and startup founders who are curious about your options and are seeking practical advice for taking action. The following tools allow you to jump into whichever topic you like. Each topic has ‘content’ for you to read or watch, ‘exercises’ for you to apply what you have learned, and ‘examples’ for you to reference.


Different product types will have different priorities for sustainability—some depend more on material choice, others on energy efficiency, and so on.  To have the greatest impact with the least amount of work, start with the Whole System Mapping design exercise to clarify the big picture and focus on what’s most important for your product.



If you teach design or engineering, you can also use these exercises as homework. The last topic in the menu above suggests how to integrate the content into different types of classes. Watch this video for the suggestions and a tour of the site.



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