Overcoming decision traps in sustainable design

Amit Kaldate, Deborah Thurston, Hamidreza Emamipour, Mark Rood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The call for sustainability has created opportunities for taking a more holistic view of design. However, it also poses challenges for designers who must often resort to heuristic decision rules in order to deal with its complexities. The problem is that these heuristics can lead to suboptimal designs. The decision traps encountered in sustainable design are identified as focus on end-ofpipe treatment, pollution transfer, objective isolation and status quo anchoring. An illustrative case study of a new technology to recover solvent emissions from manufacturing operations is presented. A normative decision tool in the form of multiattribute utility is used as a design evaluation methodology. Four different objectives of capital cost, operating cost, liquid recovery and environmental impact are integrated in the evaluation function. The resulting designs involving decision traps are seen to be of lower overall utility as compared to the design methodology that addresses these traps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of ICED 03, the 14th International Conference on Engineering Design
EditorsAnders Folkeson, Margareta Norell, Ulf Sellgren, Klas Gralen
PublisherDesign Society
ISBN (Electronic)1904670008
StatePublished - 2003
Event14th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2003 - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: Aug 19 2003Aug 21 2003

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED
VolumeDS 31
ISSN (Print)2220-4334
ISSN (Electronic)2220-4342


Other14th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2003


  • Activated carbon fiber
  • Design for recovery
  • Design optimization
  • Hazardous air pollutant
  • Multiattribute utility
  • Sustainable design
  • Volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation


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