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Sustainable Design Enablers – Use Case Summary

In the blog, “Small Software for Enduring Prosperity“, I wrote about one micro-app called Design Intent, that satisfies a simple use case in sustainable design.   In this prezi, I outline a number of other use cases that we collected and provide the greater context.   (Note: To view the prezi, choose full screen, and click on objects to zoom in.  You also can use the arrow keys or the scroll pad to zoom and pan. This prezi is a work in progress.)

Many of these use cases present an opportunity for industrious technologists to build one or more micro-apps that will help society remake the way that we make things for enduring prosperity.   Networked, socially enabled environments like SAP StreamWork make a good platform for such micro-apps.  Below is a quick abstract or summary of high level use cases and requirements from the prezi


Quick Summary of Use Cases, Requirements, Challenges:


  1. Transparency:   The core requirement for enabling sustainability is to find a practical way to roll-up ‘environmental performance indicators’ in categories such as material safety, material flows, energy, emissions, and social equity in a way that respects the intellectual property (e.g. proprietary relationships and formulations) of suppliers (nodes) in each part of the global supply network.   Only then can someone at the endpoint (such as a consumer) know with confidence that the product that they are using is ‘sustainable’ as defined by some standard (such as “Cradle to Cradle”).  This type of transparency the core enabler.  There many opportunities to build platforms, interfaces, apps, and micro-apps that contribute to enabling this type of transparency. 
  2. Compliance:   Note that in order to understand if I am compliant to a standard or regulation, I likely need to know what’s in my product (see transparency above)  (e.g. any element, compound, or likely derivative compound above 100 PPM or ambient trace amounts).  I also need to thoroughly understand the details of the relevant standards and regulations (the filters that I apply to determine compliance).  Enabling this use case will require materials, property, standards, and regulatory data.
  3. Safe Materials (white list):  I’m designing a product, and I want to use a specific component or material.  Is it safe?   This is another twist on, or result of, a compliance checks.     (e.g. Does it pass the 19 specific eco and human toxicity tests defined in the C2C v2.1.1 protocol?  If I’m selling it in California, does it require a prop 65 label?)   A federated safe materials database could be one part of enabling this or related use cases.
  4. Banned Materials (black list):  Which materials are prohibited?  A federated safe materials database could be one part of enabling this, or related use cases.
  5. Alternatives:  I have a material that is not “safe” in one of my products or components.  I need a substitute.  Which materials are good substitutes (and will not likely be banned in the future)?
  6. What materials exist for my application?:   I need a material with specific attributes (e.g. safe, certain tensile strength, biodegradable, infused w nitrogen).
  7. Innovate and Pool:  Create a new material for me that has attributes X, Y, and Z.   We’ll make it practical for you by pooling our demand with other customers.  We’ll do this using an IP framework that is attractive to you.
  8. Supplier Visibility:  What is on the materials roadmap of my suppliers?  (What is on the roadmap of regulators!)
  9. Change:  I need to change suppliers at minimum cost.
  10. Certification – downstream:  My largest customers, distributors, management, or my government has mandated that I meet certain requirements, standards, or regulations (e.g. Design for the Environment, C2C Design Protocol, Prop 65).  What does this mean?   What are the requirements?  What’s the process?  What’s the value?
  11. Certification – upstream:  My suppliers need to know with ambiguity what data I need for specific certification processes.
  12. Collaborative Toxicology:  I don’t want to reproduce toxicology work already performed by others OR we’ve already assessed hundreds of materials against a protocol (e.g. C2C) and we want to share our findings with other companies seeking to deliver sustainable products.
  13. Standards Development:  I want to help shape the standards, requirements, and regulations that govern what I will deliver.  I want a voice in an open process.
  14. Alignment of Extended Design Team:  Facilitate the early alignment of diverse stakeholders on design principles for a specific product or system, during the conceptual design process.  (Examples of stakeholders include members of the Industrial Design, Engineering, Procurement, Marketing, Innovation, Sales, or Logistics teams, etc.)
  15. Marketing:  I have safe products, and I want to market them.
  16. Consumer Choice:  Which product is most safe and healthy for my family and the planet?  This goes back to number 1 (Transparency), and requires a clear and transparent definition of “safe” or “sustainable” (which is what the C2C Design Framework) tries to accomplish. 

Each of the above can surely be viewed from a number of different perspectives and atomized into many pieces.  Enabling them is helpful to advancing the field of sustainable design.  They are a good place to start if you’re a technologist or developer thinking about how you can provide solutions for sustainable design.   

See the prezi for more context and content.


How might you help re-make the way the world makes things?   Perhaps do one of the following:


  1. Build:  Pick one of the above requirements or use cases.  Find a ‘customer’ that would benefit from a solution in on of the above areas and work with them as a design partner, prototype, iterate, and start coding.  See SAP Streamwork APIs for more details about the platform that we used for Small Software for Enduring Prosperity.  Start small.  If you had a team of 2 – 3 developers for 90 days, how would you apply them to the above soup of use cases?     
  2. Manage:  Step up found, and manage an open innovation development community dedicated to enabling the above use cases.
  3. Tool:   We need a good tool to document and communicate what’s needed to enable efficient and effective sustainable design; to essentially provide a high level view on the system (i.e. find a nice way to  visually model the use cases, requirements, the challenges, and how they relate).  Could prezi with it’s unlimited two dimensional canvas be the right environment for a comprehensive map?  Is some UML compliant tool the right answer?  We should find a way that enables others to collaborate, add use cases, and detail solutions.  The result should be easily accessible and consumable by non-experts.  The map could be hosted at the, or another independent site.
  4. Contribute:   Help technology providers to better understand the use cases.  How do the  above use cases relate to each other?   Which ones are missing?  Contribute more use cases or your requirements (if you are a manufacturer of things).  What technology already exists to address them?  Many companies, including SAP already have technologies that address some of the above.   Analyze and assess this technology.    Where are the gaps?  What needs to be built?  How does it all ties together?  What integration points do we need?  Share your findings.  Include this on the map
  5. Focused Career Choices:  Work for one of the technology providers that enables sustainable design, and help them deliver.
  6. Other:  If you can think of another way to have a measurable impact here, JDI.


We can’t change the past, but we can change the future.  Overall, it may be easier to focus on solutions that deal with the design and build of future products and systems.  With the right intent, hard work, and collaboration, we can create systems with a net positive impact on the planet.

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