When teaching sustainable design in industry or academia, we should teach design methods, activities, and mindsets that are most effective at driving real change in a industry. However, most studies of design practices are performed on students, not on professionals. How strongly do student perceptions of value predict those of industry teams designing real products? This study provided workshops on three sustainable design methods (The Natural Step, Whole System Mapping, and Biomimicry) for 172 professionals and 204 students, applying the methods to their actual products being developed. It surveyed both populations about which activities or mindsets within each design method provided sustainability value, innovation value, and overall value. Quantitatively, student results did not strongly predict professional opinions; professionals chose clearer favorites and valued more things. However, qualitatively, student results did predict the reasons why professionals would value the design activities and mindsets. Therefore, care should be taken to choose appropriate participants for the questions being asked in sustainable design research.

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