Sustainable Design by Numbers

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Instead of seeing labels on products such as 'green' or 'sustainable' or 'made from recyclable materials', this analysis tool allows for a points system to be placed on consumer products and industrial processes. A consumer, designer or engineer can then make quick and yet informed decisions when purchasing or implementing products and/or processes. Much like nutritional value labels, sustainability value can be present on labeling. Environmental, Economic, and Ergonomic (human aspect) impacts for consumer products and industrial processes are evaluated with this multi-point sustainable design tool. In short, the analysis tool quantifies impacts across the 3 pillars of sustainability in a consumer friendly manner where only qualitative analysis and/or complicated math was common with other tools. With the implementation of user-friendly measurement methods, dimensions of analysis are found. The data output comes in the 3-dimensional form a tetrahedron, where 3 edges, 3 faces, and 1 volume can be measured. The 3D form of data output was the break-through of the research, which allowed 3 disparate categories of sustainability (environment, economy, ergonomics) to be analyzed non-biasedly and yet still contribute a single final impact weighting (point value). The analysis tool is currently undergoing revamping to make it even more useful; it should incorporate space (over-crowding, environmental encroachment, etc.), information (data, etc.), and time (work-hours wasted, etc.) as additional entropic systems that can be measured with said tool. Future advancements in the system see a sustainability catalog accesible online and through smartphone application, for more responsible design and purchasing decisions worldwide. With the public made aware of the impacts of their decisions (relative comparisons among products in the same categories), industry will be more persuaded to make more sustainable decisions. This project and product is being developed by Joshua Dwayne Barnes (physics and mechanical engineering double major) under the mentoring of Dr. Zhanhu Guo and supported by the McNair Scholars Program, all of Lamar University. The researcher hopes to publish and market this system by the end of 2012.


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  • Name:
    Joshua Barnes
  • Type of entry:
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Joshua's favorite design and analysis tools:
    Visual Basic (Excel), ProE
  • Joshua's hobbies and activities:
    inventing, graphic design, tutoring physics
  • Joshua belongs to these online communities:
    facebook, twitter, linkedin, instagram, youtube
  • Joshua is inspired by:
    An inner appreciate for the cross-over between mathematics and art.
  • Software used for this entry:
    Microsoft Office Excel
  • Patent status: