Environmental sustainability


The interest in environmental sustainability issues has been increasing in recent years, both from companies’ point of view, through the development of products with low environmental impact, and from the point of view of consumers who are driven to purchase “green” products. The concept of environmental sustainability collects therefore different needs that have as their final objective the reduction of the environmental burden connected to products/processes/services. Some key concepts are: Design for Environment, i.e. the integration of environmental aspects within the product development process (ISO 14006: 2011), and Life Cycle Thinking, i.e. the adoption of a perspective extended to the entire product life.
The first step towards the development of products/processes/services with low environmental impact is the evaluation and quantification of their environmental impacts through the application of methodologies and tools of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). These standardized methodologies and tools (ISO 14040: 2006 and ISO 14044: 2006) allow the product modelling and provide quantitative results expressed through numerous indicators of environmental impact (the most common is KgCO2 equivalent). In particular, the application of these methods and tools allows to:

  • Quantify the potential damage caused in the ecosystem by human activities;
  • Consider all the phases of the life cycle of a product/service, from the extraction of raw materials, to the manufacturing phase, to the use phase, to the end of life;
  • Identify the most critical issues and focus the re-design activities where these are concentrated;
  • Be compliant with the regulations;
  • Use the results for marketing activities.

When the environmental impacts assessment takes place already in the early stages of design, we speak of Eco-design. In this case, the objective is to anticipate the evaluation at the early design stages, to evaluate different design alternatives (e.g. materials, production processes, etc.) that affect the environmental behaviour of the product/process/service. Research activities related to eco-design are focused on:

  • Development of customized methods and tools for the integration of environmental aspects into the traditional design process;
  • Support the integration of eco-design tools with classic design tools (e.g. CAD);
  • Development of knowledge-based methods and tools to guide decision-making process.

The group uses commercial LCA tool (Simapro, PRé Sustainability) and has developed prototype software tools in the course of research and project activities. In particular:

  • Prototype software tool for the calculation of the environmental impact of the product/process/services;
  • Prototype software tool for the calculation of the environmental impact connected to the use phase of energy-consuming products;
  • Prototype software tool for the calculation of the environmental impact related to the product End of life phase.


The activities are carried out in the Virtual Prototyping laboratory

  1. Papetti, A., Marconi, M., Rossi, M., Germani, M., 2019. Web-based platform for eco-sustainable supply chain management. Sustainable Production and Consumption 17, pp. 215-228.
  2. Favi, C., Germani, M., Landi, D., Mengarelli, M., Rossi, M., 2018. Comparative life cycle assessment of cooking appliances in Italian kitchens. Journal of Cleaner Production 186, pp. 430-449
  3. Favi, C., Germani, M., Mandolini, M., Marconi, M., 2018. Implementation of a software platform to support an eco-design methodology within a manufacturing firm. International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 11(2), pp. 79-96.
  4. Favi, C.,  Germani, M.,  Gregori, F.,  Mandolini, M.,  Marconi, M.,  Marilungo, E.,  Papetti, A.,  Rossi, M., 2017 Environmental sustainability awareness in product design practices: A survey of Italian companies. Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference Volume 4, 2017
  5. Rossi, M., Germani, M., Zamagni, A., 2016. Review of ecodesign methods and tools. Barriers and strategies for an effective implementation in industrial companies. Journal of Cleaner Production129, pp. 361-373
  6. Germani, M., Mandolini, M., Marconi, M., Mengarelli, M., Mengoni, M., Rossi, M., 2016. An approach to foster eco-design in ‘traditional’ companies without eco-knowledge. International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management 18(2-3), pp. 150-167.
  7. Rossi, M., Germani, M., Marconi, M., 2016. A decision support tool to foster sustainability in industrial context. Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference, Volume 4, 2016.
  8. Germani, M., Mandolini, M., Marconi, M., Morbidoni, A., Rossi, M., 2014. ECO-design platform within an extended enterprise: How to implement it?. Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference Volume 4, 2014.
  9. Germani, M., Mandolini, M., Marconi, M., Marilungo, E., 2014. A method for the estimation of the economic and ecological sustainability of production lines. Procedia CIRP 15, pp. 147-152
  10. Rossi, M., Germani, M.,  Mandolini, M.,  Marconi, M.,  Mengoni, M.,  Morbidoni, A., 2013. Eco-design guidelines and eco-knowledge integration in product development process. Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED Volume 5 DS75-05, 2013, Pages 161-170
Scientific Manager
Working group