Inderscience Publishers

Building sustainability knowledge for product development and design - experiences from four manufacturing firms

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To further improve the sustainability performance of products, a framework for identification and compilation of sustainability information beyond mere product and process data has been developed. This has been done under the assumption that access to and use of such information may increase firm knowledge on sustainability issues as well as firm ability to develop more sustainable products, and thus enhance competitiveness by adding value to products beyond functionality, quality, and cost. This article presents the results from four case studies in the Norwegian furniture and automotive supplier industry, identifying the categories of sustainability information which firms find most important and relevant to product development. Factors influencing accessibility of such information have also been identified. Systematically identifying and compiling sustainability information the way proposed by the framework is suggested useful for developing requirements and specifications, for general decision support, and for generating knowledge that may inspire entirely new product meanings.

Keywords: sustainability information, sustainable product development, case study, stakeholders, automotive suppliers, automobile industry, furniture industry, Norway, sustainability knowledge, product design, manufacturing industry, sustainable development

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