Design for the Environment in UK Product Design Consultancies and In-house Design Teams: An Explorative Case Study on Current Practices and Opinions

By Philippe Francois Marius Radlovic, Mark Lemon and Peter Ford.

Published by The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper considers the perceptions of design consultancies and in house design teams about design for environment (DfE) and its implementation. The research reported investigates the current design for the environment practices, if any, that are evident within twenty British product development teams. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken where possible with designers, engineers, production managers and managing directors about their current projects in order to generate a state of the art picture about the adoption of DfE in product development. The paper presents an overview of the preliminary analysis of these case studies and proceeds to highlight the difficulties that design for the environment faces within product development teams; these include low reputation, recognition and adoption of DfE, as well as a lack of cohesive direction across the process. The need for further research that focuses on how these difficulties could be overcome in different parts of product development and the wider context of operations management is highlighted.

Keywords: Design for Environment, Eco-tools, Product Development, Design Team, Case Study, Sustainability

The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.73-83. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 215.023KB).

Philippe Francois Marius Radlovic

Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, School of Design, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

I am a research assistant in designing for the environment and my work focuses on environmental supply chains. I am also completing a PhD in “Design for Environment Collaboration” in the area of the paper proposal. My main research activities include investigating the use of design for environment principles in small to medium-sized British companies and their supply chain. I am particularly interested in the interactions and relationship between customers, product development teams and suppliers when integrating environmental concerns in projects. I also work on European and national funded projects dealing with design and the retail industry, where I train product design teams on design for the environment and the supply chain collaboration advantage. My background is in product design, with skill and knowledge in environmental management systems and lifecycle management.

Dr. Mark Lemon

Principal Lecturer, Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

Mark Lemon is a social scientist with an increasingly distant background in community development and the construction industry. His research over the past twenty years has covered issues relating to the human-technical interface as it affects the natural environment and sustainable development. He has focused on organisational culture, knowledge management, and the way that multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams define and respond to complex environmental problems. He has published extensively on the characteristics of integrative research and the development of trans-disciplinary, cross-cutting skills. Mark has managed cross-disciplinary research into desertification, environmental management and resource use for European and UK research bodies, and for companies such as Lafarge, BT and Cisco. He is currently pursuing research into the dynamic relationship between indoor and outdoor environments, human behaviour and exploring the potential of that understanding for more sustainable urban design. Mark has supervised over twenty Doctoral and M.Phil. students, and has over one hundred publications, including over thirty in peer-reviewed journals.

Prof. Peter Ford

Professor of Design, School of Design, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

My work is being drawn more and more toward the “effective” knowledge transfer of the latest product design methods, techniques and thinking between the university and small and medium enterprises within Leicestershire and the East Midlands. This work has led to a number of key DMU initiatives. These include the DMU Regional Design Unit, Improving Business by Design (IBD), the Resource Efficient Design Initiative and the New Product Development Centre. This work is starting to have a significant impact on Leicestershire’s design and manufacturing economy. The local design community has benefited from the direct investment of funding in design projects, and to date IBD alone is set to increase annual business turnover of the region by over £1.3 million and in so doing, the creation/retention of over 20 jobs. These activities are helping establish De Montfort University as a key player in how to effectively undertake business engagements and knowledge transfer in the context of design.