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An Innovative Approach to Teaching Sustainable Design and Management

September 30, 2015

For many years the market leadership was driven by offering better price on more product functions and services. The world is currently shifting towards social responsibility thinking. This changes the market behaviour, and leads to more innovations, such as designing new product/service/system using re-usable parts, new electric motor concepts, or inventing new chemical production procedures generating less waste, and many more opportunities. This paper introduces a research valorisation activity that aims at developing a program of training and coaching to prepare students and industry partners to this emerging innovation wave. The most outstanding particularity of this program is that it combines management and engineering aspects of sustainability in a form that empowers trainees to deploy sustainable approaches in practice. The particular target group of design engineers get equipped with fundamentally important sustainability knowledge enabling them to include sustainability considerations in their products and systems design. Eco-design is positioned as a key lever towards achieving sustainable product-service systems.

Sustainability Indicators for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Transition to Provide Product-Service Systems (PSS)

January 1, 2015

Product-Service Systems (PSS) were developed as more sustainable alternatives to traditional product sales, especially through better and more intensive use of materials. Some companies currently use this business model successfully, while others are still in the process of transforming to PSS. The change from providing a product to providing a service has proved to be rather difficult and actual sustainable benefits have been questioned. The research described in this paper was part of the ServINNOV project.The initial idea was to find out if, and how, indicators could help in the move to PSS. Indicators could give a clearer picture of the situation and monitor progress during the transition period. Indicators could also help companies focus on their core activities, and determine whether a PSS offering really helps them to become more sustainable. The study covers an overall view of sustainable indicators, with a focus on environmental issues. The research for this paper was carried out through both theoretical and empirical studies. Empirical findings were obtained from interviews with three companies, all of them working with PSS on different levels. The results will guide transition to provide more sustainable PSS.

Scenarios as a Tool for Transition towards Sustainable PSS

June 30, 2014

Moving from selling goods to Product Service Systems (PSS) will promote coupling of environmental objectives with economic growth. However many difficulties hinder their implementation. Companies must rethink business models and replace value of exchange by value in use, involving long term relations. This paper proposes using 'scenarios' as a methodological tool to help support decisional processes when moving towards sustainable PSS. Transition scenarios formulate possible futures and provide a shared vision. They identify potential difficulties and help to formalize problems, reducing uncertainty for decision makers. This paper follows a twofold approach: theoretical and field studies in small companies. It concludes with initial propositions to structure scenario building in sustainable PSS.