Design for sustainability often considers three potentially competing objectives in economic, ecological, and social sustainability. In general, business success hinges on economic sustainability, while ecological and social concerns are treated as secondary objectives for marketing or political purposes. Previous research has shown that there is a tradeoff among these sustainability objectives regarding design decisions that include tolerances and material choices, and different market- or policy-driven incentives may result in different optimal design decisions. This study presents and demonstrates an approach for evaluating legislative opportunities that may internalize ecological and social objectives into the economic objectives of product-developing firms, using the case study of an automotive body panel. Modeling and simulation tools from Computer Aided Tolerancing (CAT), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and design optimization are combined using a novel framework to show how sustainability-driven government policies such as taxation may influence design decisions and sustainability outcomes.

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