• Use efficient supply and response systems.

• Plan distribution efficiently based on re­search of customer use and location.

• Cooperate with other suppliers to optimize shipping and logistics, where possible.

• Plan and specify modes of transportation with lower impacts (such as train and ships over airplanes).

• Create product take-back services to collect, reuse, and recycle products and components when customers are finished with them.

Plan for these components to be used in the manufacturing process.

Product Use

• Create products that use energy and ma­terials efficiently (including energy-saving modes).

• Create products that don’t require energy for use or allow human power as an option, where possible.

• Specify cleaner and fewer consumables in product-use instructions.

• Allow and specify recycled and reused com­ponents and materials for product use.

• Lending and renting programs promote greater use efficiency over a product’s life cycle than single ownership.


• Recast product solutions as service solu­tions.

• Distribute service centers across geographic locations where customers are located, in order to reduce transportation distance for both customers and company service repre­sentatives.

• Minimize amount of power used for online and digital service centers. [44]

Dematerialization can have one of the great­est impacts in sustainable design; however, it’s critical for designers to understand the manu­facturing process and the entire supply chain in order to find the opportunities that will have this impact. Manufacturing and distribution aren’t processes for others to worry about. Rather, they are critical parts of the solution that need to be considered and potentially re­designed because they represent approximately one-third of the total environmental impact for most products. Designers are seldom taught to work closely with their counterparts in op­erations (including manufacturing, shipping, inventory, etc.), but these areas are all your potential allies and often hold the information you need in order to design sustainably.

Vampire Power

California has been a leader in rethinking en­ergy use and creating new energy standards for over 40 years. Vampire power, the electricity consumed by power converters and appliances left plugged into wall outlets when not being used, is one of the state’s latest concerns. Most

people don’t realize that their mobile phone and other chargers draw power even when the devices they recharge aren’t attached. Also, many appliances, such as microwave ovens, televisions, and stereos siphon off considerable power when they’re not being used (either off or in standby mode). This power is consumed without any valuable use. Most of us don’t even know it’s being wasted, yet it accounts for approximately 10 percent of U. S. house­hold electricity consumption (equal to nearly 114 megawatt hours or over $6 billion worth of electricity in 2004)![45]

Most people don’t realize that their mobile phone and other chargers draw power even when the devices they recharge aren’t attached.

Much of this energy is redundant, even when it is productive. For example, consider how many appliances in the typical kitchen have a digital clock. It may not seem that these clocks could consume much power (and, individually, they don’t), but multiplying the energy con­sumed by vampire power by all of the appli­ances in the U. S. accounts for the total output of up to 18 power plants. The typical micro­wave oven, for example, consumes more power during the day to power the clock than it does when you use it (assuming you use your mi­crowave for under 10 minutes each day).[46]

California’s new standards set limits on the amount of electricity that power adapters and chargers draw when “off,” and these new stan­dards are over seven times as efficient as older models. These standards are already in effect, even though many manufacturers have been designing them for several years. Similarly, other states and countries are already adopt­ing similar regulations. Designers aware of the issues don’t have to wait for regulations to change and can start targeting these inefficien­cies immediately.


Updated: September 30, 2015 — 9:18 pm