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From an Ecodesign Guide to a Sustainable Design Guide: Complementing Social Aspects of Sustainable Product Design Guidelines
  • Oh Sehun : Sehun Oh Design, Seoul, Korea

Background Designers influence the environment and society because they influence the way most products are made, used, and discarded. Sustainable design guidelines are usually the first and handy method that designers can easily consult and apply to their projects even at an individual level for specific ways of achieving more sustainable design results. Environmental design philosophies have evolved from green design to ecodesign and now to sustainable design. Environmental design’s scope of interest has also been expanded from just the environment to the economy and then to society in general. However, I found most current guidelines actually lack social aspects in their strategy list. So, this study aims to suggest a new sustainable design guideline that complements social aspects.

Methods Methods I examined 16 sustainable design approaches for this study and selected four sustainable design guidelines optimized for the industrial design field. Then I reviewed the features of each guideline and conducted a comparison analysis at the specific strategy item level. I identified the guidelines’ strengths and weaknesses through the analysis and discovered that most guidelines do not properly cover the social aspects of sustainable design and actually function as ecodesign guides. So I conducted further study on social aspects using three relevant books and extracted topics to suggest a new sustainable design guideline that properly covers social aspects.

Results Results The new guide evolved from an ecodesign guide to a sustainable design guide by incorporating social design aspects. I also tried to integrate the strengths because I found that each of the four guides has its own strong points. Through the comparative analysis, I extracted commonly suggested, high-priority strategy items. I also tried to minimize the number of items by combining similar or redundant items to keep this integrated guide as essential as possible. Finally, I updated the explanations and examples for each strategy item that were obscure or outdated.

Conclusions Conclusions Sustainable development is an ongoing unresolved issue requiring long and tortuous efforts by people from all walks of life and the design field is no exception. The role of sustainable design guidelines is crucial but I found that all of the reviewed guides leave room for improvement, especially regarding social aspects. So I tried to craft a better sustainable design guide by taking issues from three renowned social design books so that the revised new guideline can be consulted for thorough sustainable design issues. I hope this study’s result will be a convenient guide and an easy introduction to sustainable design for people seeking specific ways to make products more sustainable.

Sustainable Design, Ecodesign, Green Design, Product Design, Design Guideline, Design Strategy, Social Design.
pISSN: 1226-8046
eISSN: 2288-2987
Publisher: Korean Society of Design Science
Received: 21 Feb, 2017
Revised: 07 Mar, 2017
Accepted: 27 Mar, 2017
Printed: May, 2017, 31
Volume: 30 Issue: 2
Page: 47 ~ 65
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15187/adr.2017.
Corresponding Author: Sehun Oh (sehunoh@gmail.com)
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Citation : Oh, S. (2017). From an Ecodesign Guide to a Sustainable Design Guide: Complementing Social Aspects of Sustainable Product Design Guidelines. Archives of Design Research, 30(2), 47-65.

Copyright : This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits unrestricted educational and non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Background of the Study

Ecology, economy, and equity (3E) have been three main issues in sustainable development since the United Nations introduced the Brundtland Report in 1987, and John Elkington suggested the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) in 1994, which considers economic, environmental, and social aspects as three axes of sustainable business activity (Edwards, 2005). Sustainable design inherited this tradition and considers ecological, economic, and social issues as its main topics (B. Y. Kim & Kim, 2010). As a result, sustainable design has become a comprehensive subject that actually covers a large part of contemporary design issues that our generation’s designers confront. Industrial designers influence the environment because they suggest the way products are made, used, and discarded. They significantly affect the decisions for selecting materials, production methods, finishes, and packaging methods for most products people use (Cho, 2000).

If designers don’t think critically about their role in society, they are likely to serve only commercialism by encouraging endless excessive consumption through their ability to make products more attractive (Whiteley, 1997). If designers are aware of their influence on the environment and of diverse ways of making their design decisions more sustainable, they may be able to contribute to positive change. The role of sustainable design guidelines is important because design practitioners consult the guidelines for basic action strategies to achieve sustainable results for their projects. Design students also learn them as one criterion for their future works. In this study, I reviewed four sustainable design guidelines optimized for the industrial design field and conducted a comparative analysis. From this, I discovered that most guidelines do not properly cover the social aspects of sustainable design. So I conducted further research on social topics through three related books and extracted social items to suggest a new sustainable design guideline that properly covers social aspects.

2. Green Design, Ecodesign, and Sustainable Design

Sustainable design (or design for sustainability) is often confused with similar concepts such as ecodesign or green design, but each term has a different meaning when we take a closer look. “Environmental design philosophies have evolved from green design to ecodesign through to design for sustainability” (Bhamra & Lofthouse, 2007) over the years as “the design community’s response to the emergent environmental and social pressures and broader sustainability trends” (Sherwin, 2004). As explained in Table 1, green design was the initial attempt to reduce environmental impacts with methods such as minimizing material or energy use, fostering reuse, and recycling. Its focus, however, was simply the environment. Green design evolved into ecodesign, which is more closely integrated with the overall design process considering practical issues. Ecodesign is a product development strategy aiming to design, produce, and sell environmentally and economically excellent products by considering environmental aspects along with other elements of competition such as cost and quality (Chun, 2009). However, sustainable design inherits the holistic approach of sustainable development, which has taken the position that environmental, economic, and social issues cannot be dealt with separately since the UN World Commission on Environment and Development published the Brundtland Report (also known as Our Common Future) (Edwards, 2005). Sustainable design takes the same approach as ecodesign regarding environmental and economic issues, but also includes social issues such as equity and ethics.

Table 1
Differentiation of environmental design philosophies

Design Philosophy Explanation Related Issue*
Green Design Focuses on single issues, for example the inclusion of recycled or recyclable plastic, or consideration of energy consumption. Environment
Ecodesign Environmental considerations are considered at each stage of the design process. Economy
Design for Sustainability Design that considers the environmental and social impact of a product (for example usability, responsible use). Society
* Related Issue column was added to the table from Bhamra, 2007, p.39

3. Sustainable Design Guidelines
3. 1. Criteria for Guideline Selection

There are numerous approaches for pursuing sustainability from tens of thousands of organizations in various fields and Edwards (2005) explained the decentralized leadership as one of five characteristics of the sustainability movement. He introduced 23 selected principles in his book, and four, including The Hannover Principles and The Sanborn Principles, are directly related to sustainable design. I reviewed 16 sustainable design approaches in total including the four principles from Edwards’ book and discovered that those approaches can be classified into three categories. Table 2 lists all the reviewed approaches for this study by category and the terms such as principle, manifesto, guideline and strategy used in this study are derived from these reviewed approaches. The first category includes principles and manifestos that declare the fundamental behavioral criteria or philosophy of individuals or groups. In this category the statements are condensed and the document lengths are very short, usually just 1 or 2 pages. The second category includes guidelines and strategies that suggest lists of specific action items for implementing sustainable design results. Explanations and examples for each item tend to be included, so the document lengths range from several to scores of pages. The third category includes frameworks and processes that explain systematic procedural approaches for achieving sustainable design results, and usually those documents have larger volumes similar to book lengths.

Table 2
The list of sustainable design approaches reviewed for this study

Category Approaches for Sustainable Design
Principles & Manifestos The Hannover Principles (McDonough & Braungart, 1992, as cited in Edwards, 2005)
The Five Principles of Ecological Design (Ryn & Cowan, 1995, as cited in Edwards, 2005)
The Todds’ Principles of Ecological Design (Todd & Todd, 1994, as cited in Edwards, 2005)
The Sanborn Principles (Donald Aitken Associates, 1994, as cited in Edwards, 2005)
The New Sustainable Design Manifesto (Greenwood, 2014)
An Evolving Manifesto for Eco-Pluralistic Design (Fuad-Luke, 2009)
Guidelines & Strategies Developmental research guideline for sustainable design (J. H. Lee, 2010)
A Study on the Development of Guideline and Application for Sustainable Design (J. Kim, 2011)*
A Study on Sustainable Product Design Method in Product Planning (K. A. Lee, 2006)
The Designer’s Field Guide to Sustainable Design (lunar.com, 2016)*
ESP Design Strategies (Greenwood, 2012)*
Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel (White, St. Pierre, & Belletire, 2013)*
Ecodesign Strategy Wheel (Brezet & Van Hemel, 1997)
Eco-Design Strategies (Fuad-Luke, 2009)
Processes & Frameworks Aligned for Sustainable Design (IDEO & BSR, 2008)
Design for Sustainability: A step-by-step approach (UNEP & Delft University of Technology, 2009)
Life Cycle Assessment: ISO 14040 (ISO, 2006)
* Four selected guidelines for this study

I selected four guidelines for the comparative analysis from all 16 reviewed approaches and used the following selection criteria. First, I tried to choose approaches optimized specifically for industrial design rather than the guides targeted at the engineering or architectural fields. Therefore, I excluded the nominees like The Hannover Principles and The Sanborn Principles because their contents actually concern architecture rather than industrial design. Second, I focused on the second category, guidelines and strategies, in this article because they are usually the first and most handy guides that designers and design students, who are aware of the environmental impacts of their practices and want to know specific ways to achieve more sustainable design results, can easily consult and apply to their projects even at an individual level. Sometimes guidelines and strategies are proposed as parts of bigger processes, but I regarded them as the second category in this article as long as their guidelines can be used separately. Also, I examined if the guide provides proper explanations and examples for detailed analysis. I have found the 16 sustainable design approaches mentioned above during my search of guidelines with these criteria and finally selected four guides that are considered to best match the criteria: The Designer’s Field Guide To Sustainable Design by Lunar, ESP Design Strategies by Tom Greenwood, A Guideline for Sustainable Design by Jiyeon Kim, and the Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel by the Okala Team.

3. 2. The Designer’s Field Guide to Sustainable Design

One of the world-renowned design agencies, Lunar (founded in 1984), established its internal initiative, Elements, in 2008 “to enliven LUNAR’s long-standing charter to use creativity to make a difference for our environment” (lunar.com, 2016). The Elements team introduced The Designer’s Field Guide to Sustainable Design to help Lunar designers and engineers create more sustainable products, and also made it available to anyone on Lunar’s website. The guide provides 15 strategy items categorized into four topics like “What is it trying to accomplish?”, “How is it brought to life?”, “How is it used?”, and, “Where does it end up?” The topics are basically arranged in the product life cycle order, spanning from product planning through manufacturing to use and finally, to disposal. It provides detailed explanations and examples for each strategy item. The item numbers in Lunar’s guide are much fewer than the other three guidelines, and the simplicity makes this guide easier to access. However, the oversimplified item numbers are not sufficient enough to specify all important topics for sustainable product design. And another overlooked aspect in this guide is that it does not include the social aspect of sustainable design even though its title references sustainable design instead of ecodesign.

Table 3
The Designer’s Field Guide to Sustainable Design by Lunar

Category No. Strategy Items
A. What is it trying to accomplish? a1 Question the premise of the design
a2 Make it less complex
a3 Make it more useful
B. How is it brought to life? b1 Reduce material variety
b2 Avoid toxic or harmful materials and chemicals
b3 Reduce size and weight
b4 Optimize manufacturing processes
b5 Design packaging in parallel with products
C. How is it used? c1 Design for upgradeability
c2 Create durable and high quality design
c3 Design for life after death
D. Where does it end up? d1 Make it modular
d2 Use recycled, recyclable, renewable & biodegradable materials
d3 Minimize fasteners
d4 Don’t use paint

3. 3. ESP Design Strategies

ESP Design Strategies are a set of action items for sustainable design suggested by Tom Greenwood, a British brand consultant with a sustainable product design and engineering background. He started an online review of sustainable design tools, methods, and principles called ESP Design in 2004 under the acronym of Environmentally Sustainable Product Design, and a year later changed the name to Entirely Sustainable Product Design to include broader sustainable design issues. The UK government awarded him the 2007 KTP Business Leader of Tomorrow Award for his commitment to sustainability. He is not currently running the ESP Design website any more since 2013, and the previous website, www.espdesign.org, is now accessible only through the Internet Archive service (Greenwood, 2012). Now he is running another site called Live Wholesome (livewholesome.co.uk), and sharing his thoughts on wholesome living, green technology, and plant-based food. He wrote a blog post titled “The New Sustainable Design Manifesto” on this site and explained why he stopped updating ESP Design. He concluded that “genuine sustainable product design is simply not possible when we are designing for a system that puts financial profit before all other factors, and for a culture that is addicted to ever increasing levels of consumption” (Greenwood, 2014). ESP Design Strategies consist of 44 action items marked with icons representing environmental, social, or financial sustainability. For example, the 29th item, “Reduce Transportation” is marked with three icons because it relates to all three issues. Also, all the strategy items are explained with relatively detailed expatiation in ESP Design Strategies, but it does not provide case examples for each item.

Table 4
ESP Design Strategies

No. Strategy Items Related Issue* No. Strategy Items Related Issue*
1 Design the Business System First Env. / Soc. / Fin. 23 Plan for Continual Improvement Env. / Fin.
2 Clarify Core Functions Env. / Soc. / Fin 24 Minimize Leaks Env. / Soc. / Fin.
3 Select Responsible Suppliers Env. / Soc. / Fin 25 Minimize Cycling Losses Env. / Fin.
4 Product Service Systems Env. / Soc. / Fin 26 Renewable Energy Env. / Soc.
5 Multi-functionalism Env. 27 Rechargeable Batteries Env. / Soc.
6 Modularization Env. / Soc. 28 Feedback Mechanisms Env. / Soc. / Fin
7 Minimize Material Variety Env. / Fin. 29 Reduce Transportation Env. / Soc. / Fin
8 Weight Reduction Env. 30 Simplification Env. / Soc. / Fin
9 Recyclable Materials Env. 31 Integrate Packaging Design Env. / Fin.
10 Recycled Materials Env. 32 Durability Env. / Soc. / Fin.
11 Biodegradable Materials Env. 33 Re-Usability Env. / Fin.
12 Renewable Materials Env. 34 Remanufacture Env. / Fin.
13 Minimize Composites Env. / Soc. / Fin 35 Design for Disassembly Env.
14 Avoid Hazardous & Toxic Materials / Substances Env. / Soc. / Fin 36 Maintenance Env. / Soc. / Fin.
15 Low Embodied Energy Materials Env. / Fin. 37 Reduce Consumables Env. / Fin.
16 Minimize Material Contamination Env. 38 Integrate Disposal Instructions Env.
17 Identify / Label Materials Env. 39 Use Waste Products Env. / Fin.
18 Avoid Glass Env. 40 Closed Life Cycle Design Env. / Fin.
19 Look for Synergies Env. / Soc. / Fin 41 Design Products to be Loveable Env. / Soc. / Fin
20 Aim for Maximum Efficiency Env. 42 Rewrite the Brief Env. / Soc. / Fin
21 Design for Part Load Operation Env. 43 Start with a Blank Sheet of Paper Env. / Soc. / Fin
22 Efficient Processes Env. 44 Change Consumer Behavior Env. / Soc. / Fin
* Env. / Soc. / Fin. are the abbreviations for environmental, social and financial sustainability

3. 4. A Guideline for Sustainable Design

J. Kim extracted 60 action items for sustainable design from case analysis at the early stage of her study and verified the list through a survey targeting 25 designers and 25 consumers in her Master’s thesis (J. Kim, 2011). Then she refined the list and reduced the number of items according to the survey result into 52 items to be used as sustainable design guidelines or a checklist for evaluating sustainable products. Though her study is relatively focused on electric and electronic products, she extracted the items from actual product examples. The most important reason I selected her guide is that I thought her strategies are concrete enough to be used as action items when compared to several other similar studies conducted in South Korea. She also tried to integrate her sustainable design guide into the design process and actually designed an air purifier using her sustainable design process as the final result of her thesis.

The strategy items in this guide are grouped by each item’s nature, such as cycle, energy preservation, efficiency, safety, and sociality, while the items in other three guidelines are ungrouped (ESP Design Strategies), or grouped by product life cycle stages (Lunar’s guide and Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel). Another important difference is that J. Kim’s guide tries to earnestly cover social issues as a part of sustainable design while the other three guides are actually ecodesign guides, mainly focusing only on environmental and economic issues. However, when we look closely at the social items, they leave something to be desired. For example, the items belong to the first subcategory E1. User Consideration such as e3. User Convenience and e4. Understanding User Needs, sound too general to be used as action items. Also it is highly questionable if the items belong to the second subcategory E2. Information are relevant to the social category.

Table 5
Kim’s Guideline for Sustainable Design

Factor Strategy Items Factor Strategy Items
A. Cycle A1. Reuse a1. Reuse C. Efficiency C3. Usability c6. Durability
a2. Material Substitutability c7. Lasting Use
a3. Upgrade c8. Interaction
A2. Recycle a4. Biodegradable Materials c9. Expandability
a5. Recycled / Recyclable Materials C4. Function c10. Faithful Basic Functions
A3. Reduce a6. Purity of Material c11. Integrated Functions
a7. Single Material D1. Environmental Safety d1. Regulation Compliance
a8. Minimal Finish d2. Nontoxic Materials
A4. Repair a9. Easy Assembly / Disassembly d3. Harmful Substance Free
a10. Easy Maintenance d4. Pollution Reduction
B. Energy Preservation B1. Material b1. Durable Materials D2. User Safety d5. Safety Consideration
b2. Nature Revertible Materials d6. Safe Shape
B2. Natural Energy b3. Self Generation Electricity D3. Clean & Safety d7. Cleanliness Consideration
b4. Clean Alternative Energy E. Sociality E1. User Consideration e1. Providing User Options
b5. Storing Natural Energy e2. Intuitive Usability
B3. Energy Saving b6. Transportation Cost Reduction e3. User Convenience
b7. Minimal Resources e4. Understanding User Needs
b8. Simple Manufacturing Process E2. Information e5. Providing Product Information
b9. Energy Efficiency e6. Environment Information
b10. Optimal Design e7. Broken Appliance Collection System
B4. Life Extension b11. Product Life Extention E3. Universal e8. Ergonomic Design
C. Efficiency C1. Identity c1. Component Standardization e9. Equity (Nation / Generation)
c2. Modularization e10. Improving Quality of Life
C2. Reduction c3. Minimal Cost E4. Ethics e11. Considering Developing Countries
c4. Minimal Quantity & Weight e12. Use of Local Resources
c5. Package Integration e13. Fostering Donation Culture

3. 5. The Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel

Philip White, chair of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Ecodesign Section, Steve Belletire, and Louise St. Pierre formed the Okala Team in 2001 as a result of the designers’ and academics’ struggle to understand how to practice and what to teach about ecological design. The team named itself after the Hopi word “Okala” which means “life sustaining energy” and started to develop an ecodesign curriculum for undergraduate industrial design schools. They also started to teach field designers in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the next year. They published “Okala: Learning Ecological Design” in 2004 and have updated their publication at intervals of every two or three years up to the current edition, “Okala Practitioner: Integrating Ecological Design,” published in 2013. The authors provide practical information about ecodesign from business and ethics perspectives, and also present Okala Impact Factors which can be used for quick impact assessment in the Okala Practitioner, besides the Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel. The Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel successfully converted the original Ecodesign Strategy Wheel (Brezet & Van Hemel, 1997) UNEP published into an industrial designer’s field guide. However, some of its 47 action items are actually redundant because they are classified by the product life cycle order. For instance, the items about minimizing energy use (items no. 18, 29) and toxic emissions (22, 32) appear repeatedly in the category C. Manufacturing and E. Use. Another critical limit of the Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel is its scope. As it specifies in its title, this guideline focuses on ecodesign and does not properly include social aspects of sustainable design.

Table 6
Okala Ecodesign Strategy Wheel

Category Strategy Items Category Strategy Items
A. Innovation 1. Rethink how to provide the benefit D. Reduced Distribution Impacts 23. Reduce product and packaging weight
2. Design flexibility for technological change 24. Reduce Product and packaging volume
3. Provide product as service 25. Develop reusable packaging systems
4. Serve needs provided by associated products 26. Use lowest-impact transport system
5. Share among multiple users 27. Source or use local materials and production
6. Mimic biological systems E. Reduced Behavior and Use Impacts 28. Encourage low-consumption user behavior
7. Use living organisms in product system 29. Reduce energy consumption during use
8. Create opportunity for local supply chain 30. Reduce material consumption during use
B. Reduce Material Impacts 9. Avoid materials that damage human or ecological health 31. Reduce water consumption during use
10. Avoid materials that deplete natural resources 32. Seek to eliminate toxic emissions during use
11. Minimize quantity of materials 33. Design for carbon-neutral or renewable energy
12. Use recycled or reclaimed materials F. System Longevity 34. Design for durability
13. Use renewable resources 35. Design for maintenance and easy repair
14. Use material from reliable certifiers 36. Design for Re-use and exchange of products
15. Use waste byproducts 37. Create timeless aesthetic
C. Manufacturing Innovation 16. Minimize manufacturing waste 38. Foster emotional connection to product
17. Design for production quality control G. Transitional Systems 39. Design upgradeable products
18. Minimize energy use in production 40. Design for second life with different function
19. Use carbon-neutral or renewable energy sources 41. Design for reuse of components
20. Minimize number of production steps 42. Integrate methods for used product collection
21. Minimize number of components / materials H. Optimized End of Life 43. Design for fast manual or automated disassembly
22. Seek to eliminate toxic emissions 44. Design recycling business model
45. Use recyclable non-toxic materials
46. Provide ability to biodegrade
47. Design for safe disposal

4. From Ecodesign Guide to Sustainable Design Guide
4. 1. Comparing the Guidelines

Each of the four guides has its own strong points. On the other hand none are perfect, and each leaves some room for improvement when compared with each other. Lunar’s guide is essential and easier to remember but its simplicity is also a disadvantage because the guide list is too short to thoroughly cover sustainable design methods. Also it does not include social aspects of sustainable design. The ESP Design guide explains each action item relatively in detail but it does not provide example cases. Only J. Kim’s guide covers the social aspects of sustainable design in earnest, while the others actually just focus on ecodesign. Many of J. Kim’s social items, however, seem unsuitable for the category or too comprehensive to be used as strategy items. The Okala guide successfully converts the original Ecodesign Strategy Wheel published by UNEP into an industrial designer’s field guide, but it also overlooks the social aspects of sustainable design. Table 4 summarizes these key features of the four guides for easy comparison at a glance. In the case of the Number of Society Items, the seventh comparison standard of the table, the financial, environmental and social relevance overlaps in the ESP Design guide, unlike the other guides that classified the specific items to be included in a specific group. So the classification criterion has been reviewed on an equal basis with the rest of the guides, and the detailed information on the two items of the ESP Design guide categorized as the society group can be found in section 4.4 Extraction of Sustainable Design Strategies.

Table 7
Guideline Comparison

Lunar ESP Design J. Kim Okala
Year 2008~ 2004~2013 2011 2001~
Media Lunar Website ESP Design Website (Archived) Thesis (Master) Book (Latest edition 2014) & Okala Website
Grouping Criteria 4 Groups by Product Life Cycle (Circular) Environmental, Financial, Social (Overlapping) 5 Groups by Item Attributes 8 Groups by Product Life Cycle (Circular)
Origin Not Explained Not Explained Case Study EcoDesign
Strategy Wheel (Brezet & Van Hemel, 1997)
Number of Items 15 44 52 47
Number of Society Items* 0 2 9 3
Explanation Level for Each Item Detailed Detailed Brief Brief
Examples for Each Item All Items Few Items Some Items All Items
* Society item details can be found in the section 4.4.

4. 2. Making up for Social Aspects

Environmental problems are closely related to social issues and we can find that viewpoint’s origin in the sentence “many problems of resource depletion and environmental stress arise from disparities in economic and political power,” explained in the Brundtland Report’s Equity and the Common Interest section (World Commission On Environment and Development, 1990). Environmental design philosophies have evolved from green design to ecodesign to sustainable design to keep pace with the times, as we discussed earlier. However, the three guides except J. Kim’s guide are actually ecodesign guidelines, and even J. Kim’s social items leave room for scrutiny before taking them as strategy items for sustainable design as I explained in chapter three. So I tried to study the social aspects of sustainable design further using three social design books. I summarized their major topics in Table 8 and as a result, I categorized the topics into six groups.

Table 8
The major social design topics from the three selected books and J. Kim’s guide

Topic Category Design for the Real World
(Papanek, 1985)
Design for Society
(Whiteley, 1997)
Social Design
(Park, Oh, & Cho, 2015)
J. Kim’s Guide
1. Design to relieve consumerism - Consumerism design
- Throwaway society
- Kleenex culture
- Planned obsolescence
- Consumerism design
- Overconsumption
- Throwaway culture
- Style obsolescence
- Consumerism design
- Materialism
2. Design with responsibility - Design for people’s ‘needs’ instead of ‘wants’ - Responsible design
- Ethical consuming
- Interest in social issues
3. Stimulate community - Local economy
- Community oriented
e12. Use of Local Resources
4. Consider equitable use - The handicapped
- Senior citizen
- Pregnant woman
- The handicapped
- Feminist perspectives
- The handicapped
- Design for equity
e1. User option
e9. Equity
c8, e2, e3, e5, e8**
5. Consider underprivileged People & Fields - People in the 3rd World
- Underprivileged field
- The underprivileged
- Appropriate technology
- The underprivileged
- People in the 3rd World
- Appropriate technology
e11. Developing Countries
6. Minimize environmental impact - Environmental pollution
- Ecology
- Dense population
- Destruction of the environment
- Limited resource
- Green consumption
- Environmental pollution
- Ecosystem first
- Upcycling
A. Cycle
B. Energy Preservation
C. Efficiency
D. Safety
* Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
** c8, e2, e3, e5, e8 items are also related with intuitive and ergonomic design issues

4. 3. Making a New Comprehensive Guideline

I aimed to complement the guidelines by adding social design topics that were overlooked or treated as subordinate issues in the previously examined guidelines, so that the integrated guide can be used as a sustainable design guideline beyond the role as ecodesign guides. I also tried to integrate the previously examined four guidelines by extracting commonly suggested strategy items to make it easier for field designers and design students to consult specific sustainable design methods. The augmented guide basically inherits the product life cycle order as grouping criteria for the strategy items from the Okala guide because I determined that the classification method has been refined since Brezet & Van Hemel’s Ecodesign Strategy Wheel. I also located the newly added Society group between the Innovation and the Material groups because social topics need to be considered at the planning stage of design process. The grouping and arrangement results of the final guideline items, item descriptions and case examples can be found in detail in the section 4.5 Sustainable Design Strategies, and the criteria from which each of the detailed items are derived are as follows. Basically, I selected strategy items when more than two guides suggest them or when I see them as equally important to other selected items if they are suggested in just one guide. I tried to minimize the number of items by integrating similar items when they appear repeatedly due to the product life cycle classification method. Section 4.4, Extraction of Sustainable Design Strategies, explains how strategy items overlap among the guidelines, how similar items are integrated, how social items are complemented, and how the final sustainable design strategies were extracted. I selected item titles from existing items when I found the proper title to represent the integrated items; otherwise I made new titles for the integrated items. I also integrated five topic categories extracted from three social design books as strategy items in the Society category of the new guide.

4. 4. Extraction of Sustainable Design Strategies

4. 5. Sustainable Design Strategies

4. 5. 1. Innovation

Origin:(L)=Lunar / (E)=ESPD / (K)=J. Kim / (O)=Okala

4. 5. 2. Society

4. 5. 3. Material

4. 5. 4. Production

4. 5. 5. Transportation

4. 5. 6. Use

4. 5. 7. Disposal

4. 6. Exemplifications of Successful Sustainable Product Design

In the section 4.5 Sustainable Design Strategies, individual design examples for each strategy item have been presented in order to introduce as many cases as possible that best feature each item. However, for real products that accomplish sustainable design successfully, it is often true that many of the strategy items are met at the same time. In this section, I will explain the practical value of the sustainable design strategies presented through this study by looking at the examples of two successful sustainable product designs in which the strategy items are actually applied in combination to become sustainable products. Green Toys Inc., which makes eco-friendly toys, was founded in San Francisco's Bay area in 2007 and currently sells products in more than 80 countries, including the US, through retailers such as Amazon, Whole Foods, Pottery Barn and Nordstrom. According to Forbes, over 10 years after its establishment, now it is considered as a leading brand in the US preschool toy market(Choi, 2015). Green Toys' products are basically made of pure high-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycled from milk jug (M4. Use recycled or recyclable materials) without using any screw, glue, or paint so that there is no need to disassemble them when recycling (M2. Minimize material variety / M8. Minimize composites or contaminative finish / P1. Make it less complex). As of March 2017, more than 47 million milk jugs have been recycled so far according to the company's homepage (greentoys.com). Since they only use the recycled food packaging container, their material does not contain harmful substances such as bisphenol A or phthalate (M7. Avoid hazardous & toxic materials, substances). The packaging of the product is also made to a minimum size with recycled paper printed with soy ink (T2. Reduce size & weight). Green Toys stimulates local economy (S3. Stimulate community) and reduces greenhouse gas emissions for transportation compared to many other companies that manufacture in China because their headquarter, plastic recyclers, product manufacturers, packaging companies, and warehouses are all within five mile distance (T1. Reduce transportation). In terms of aesthetics, Green Toys adopts a relatively classic design direction, so their toys can be used for a long time without style obsolescence (U3. Create timeless aesthetic). Also, their products can be cleaned in a dishwasher so they are easy to maintain (U5. Design for maintenance and easy repair).

Figure 1 Recycling Truck by Green Toys (www.greentoys.com)

The second example of a sustainable product design is the 606 Shelving System designed by Dieter Rams and built by Vitsoe, which has been sold for nearly 60 years since 1960. When we take a look at Dieter Rams' well-known 10 principles for good design, we can understand that the principles like "9. Good design is environmentally friendly" and "7. Good design is long-lasting" refer directly to sustainability, and most of the remaining principles are also largely related to the sustainable design strategy items reviewed in this study. In particular, the 606 Shelving System is one of the most representative products that reflect his design philosophy. 606 Shelving System consists of E-Tracks (a thin strip-shaped wall mounts), the shelf modules made of folded metal sheets and connecting pins, and basically the use of materials is extremely efficient in this system compared to other shelving designs because it uses walls as the frame of the shelving structure (M1. Reduce material use). 606 System can be easily expanded or modified according to the user's changing situations thanks to its modular structure consists of the components such as various shelves of four depths and two widths, sloping shelves inclined at two angles to accommodate magazines, hanging rails for hangers, cabinets, drawers, and even tables (U6. Consider upgradeability / U7. Make it modular / P2. Make it more useful). Users can easily replace only the problematic part when it is broken (U5. Design for maintenance and easy repair) or they can reuse it in parts (U8. Design for reuse). Also, it is easy to recycle because basic modules such as E-Tracks, shelves, and pins are made of single material (aluminum or steel) just except for some modules like cabinets (M2. Minimize material variety / M4. Use recycled or recyclable materials / D1. Design for disassembly). The 606 system was designed using an essential design language and the product's aesthetic completeness is so great that it has been more than 50 years since the product was designed, and is still a success story of a typical timeless design that is still loved and steadily sold by users without a sense of outdated feeling (U3. Create timeless aesthetic). The designs of each modular component are simple, complete and robust, so they minimize the possibility of trouble (P1. Make it less complex / U1. Create proper and durable designs). If the various sustainable design strategies covered in this study are taken on board and can be applied in combination as we have seen through the examples of Green Toys and the 606 Shelving System, the result of this study can be used as a useful guideline to set the design direction for making more sustainable products in actual design projects.

Figure 2 606 Shelving System (www.vitsoe.com)
5. Conclusion

At the end of 2015, leaders from 195 countries in the Paris Agreement agreed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C, with an ideal target of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5°C , to prevent the global climate catastrophe, and it was reported as the most important climate change agreement in history by Time magazine (Worland, 2015). Sustainability may sound like a wornout or insensitive topic to some people because it has been debated for several decades. It is still, however, an ongoing unresolved issue requiring long and tortuous efforts by people from all walks of life—including designers without a doubt.

There are various sustainable design principles, manifestos, guidelines, and strategies that many organizations and researchers present due to the decentralized nature of sustainability movements. This study introduced and compared the four selected guidelines which field designers and design students can conveniently access and consult. I identified each guide’s strengths and the weaknesses and also extracted commonly important issues through a comparative analysis of item details. Through the analysis, I realized that three of the four reviewed guidelines are actually ecodesign guidelines that do not properly cover social aspects of sustainable design. Therefore, I tried to strengthen the point by taking issues from three renowned social design books, so that the new integrated guideline can be consulted for thorough sustainable design issues.

Additional research on the social aspects could give a more comprehensive perspective for clarifying and categorizing related strategy items. I also tried to complement the explanations and examples of strategy items when the current ones are considered obscure or outdated. I hope this study results can function as a convenient guide and an easy introduction to sustainable design for people who want to know specific ways to make things more sustainable. This study focuses on just sustainable design guidelines and the qualitative aspects of sustainable design, so further study on how designers can conveniently apply quantitative approach such as Life Cycle Assessment for achieving more sustainable results in their practices is required in the future.

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