Promoting sustainability

through research and education...

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The UWME Design for Environment Lab promotes Sustainability and Design for Environment (DFE) through the advancement of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Industrial Ecology (IE).

Life Cycle Assessment Data

Accessibility to LCA data, e.g., for Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), is improving in large part due to national database development efforts.

USDA LCA Digital Commons

Open source data, like that in the USDA LCA Digital Commons, promise more transparency for LCAs. Features include data parameterization and extended meta data.

Design for Environment Courses

In ME515 Life Cycle Assessment, Beren Landaas Wells McKay presented this photo as part of his LCA of photography.  Visit the "Salmon Waves" sculpture at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington


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The UWME Design for Environment Lab promotes Sustainability and Design for Environment at the University of Washington by engaging researchers and educators in the Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments and throughout the UW in efforts to improve technology development, design, and infrastructure through the advancement of Life Cycle Assessment and Industrial Ecology.


Industrial Ecology (IE) provides a framework to restore ecosystems through the design, redesign, and manage eco-efficient industrial systems that take advantage of the cyclic patterns of materials and energy flow found in natural ecosystems.  Sustainability is promoted through IE such that we can restore, as opposed to maintain, global, regional, and local systems through our products, services, and businesses.

IE is operationalized through Design for Environment (DFE).  DFE is the consideration of pollution prevention and resource conservation within the technology design process.  Materials Flow Analysis (MFA) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) are systems analyses used to evaluate technology systems as part of DFE or other types of decision-making.

Why is systems analysis important?

Both MFA and LCA are broad in scope: the systems analyses consider where and how resources are acquired, processed/ transformed, used, and wasted.  The intent is to understand both intended and unintended consequences, so that we might disseminate sustainable technologies.

The UWME DFE Lab over the years

Joyce Cooper first taught ME415 Design for Environment in 1998.  She joined the UW faculty and established the UWME DFE Lab in 1999, added ME515 to the curriculum in 2003, and continues teaching and directing the Lab today. 

Over the years, Joyce and the lab staff have published and presented a wide variety of articles documenting an equally wide range of research projects.  Our research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Air Force, the US Department of Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Ford Company, the Boeing Company, and others, in the study of fuel cells, computer monitors and TVs, biofuels, other bioproducts, and much more.

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