Most products have the potential to negatively impact the environment during all life-cycle stages. However, most environmental impact assessment methods focus on a single product life-cycle and on a specific lifecycle stage. In addition, consumer products can potentially amplify these impacts with their larger production volumes, wide dispersion, and miniaturization trends. The main objective of this project is to develop a design optimization framework that allows for estimating the environmental impact of design decisions (e.g. materials choice, etc.) across all life-cycle stages in consumer products. This work incorporates into one framework customer preferences (including preference for environmental friendliness), consumer adoption translated into utility for the producers, and environmental impact quantification of design options. The methodology relies on QFD, multi-attribute utility theory, non-linear mathematical programming, and Lifecycle Assessment tools to estimate the utility of the design options to the customer, the producer, and the environment. A function that depicts the utility of design perceived by the environment is introduced. Also a “Global Utility” equation is introduced. It incorporates the utilities of all three stakeholders and reflects the overall utility of the design alternatives.

A case study is developed considering two design options of outdoor lighting: solar and low voltage powered lamps. The Global Utility (overall utility of product) is calculated for the two alternatives. Then, the model is flexed to illustrate the response of the model with different design orientations (environmental conscious and environmental oblivious design tendency). Also, a redesign application is exemplified by performing a material substitution in the solar lamp ground pole. Finally, a Monte Carlo sensitivity analysis is performed to demonstrate the robustness of the framework.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sustainable design--Mathematical models; Engineering design--Mathematical models; Industrial design--Environmental aspects; Product life cycle

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Industrial and Systems Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)


Andres L. Carrano

Advisor/Committee Member

Brian K. Thorn

Advisor/Committee Member

Marcos Esterman


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TS171.4 .B74 2012


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