Sustainability in product design

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Sustainability in product design

First Published 2018
Ages 14-18

This item is a download

Awareness of the issues around sustainable design has increased markedly in recent years and building sustainability into products is now recognised as essential. To fully understand the issues and approaches designers need to be aware of the impacts of design and manufacture and change their thinking and approaches to ensure products are viable in terms of minimising negative effects.

This free resource, developed with the support of SolidWorks, offers a wide-ranging look at sustainability in product design at an appropriate level for GCSE and A Level students. It looks at the role of the product designer and the many factors they should be aware of when designing.

The importance of researching, measuring and assessing existing and potential impacts, and the limitations designers face are all covered. Students can bring this knowledge to developing their GCSE and A Level designs for the contextual challenge and in written exams.

Hyperlinks to useful external sources of further information are also included.



  • Why design with sustainability in mind?
  • Definitions: what is sustainability?
  • Designing in contexts
  • How to use this guide
  • The role of the product designer
  • Sustainable thinking
  • Sustainable technologies
  • Developing products                                                                                                                   
  • Lifecycle Stages
  • Measuring sustainability
  • Product analysis
  • Research
  • Results of research
  • Designing in contexts – considering sustainability
  • Sustainable design strategies
  • Designing for success at GCSE and A Level
  • Sustainable design challenge and example case studies
  • National Curriculum specification on sustainability
  • Awarding organisations
  • Exam questions
  • Useful links
  • Weblinks and further information


Also included are some short thought-provoking pieces on the following topics:

  • Natural resource depletion
  • Discussion: Who benefits?
  • Discussion: positive and negative effects of sustainable design
  • Designing in situ – localised solutions
  • Climate change impact
  • Human health
  • Impact on the environment example
  • Costs of transport, etc
  • Life Cycle Assessment



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