Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

The Designer’s Field Guide to Sustainability

By Travis Lee on October 4, 2008

A few years ago we here at LUNAR noticed something. Plenty of people were talking about sustainability, but very few were actually taking tangible steps toward sustainable design. So we started asking around. Apparently, there were thousands of designers and engineers who wanted to create more sustainable products, but didn’t know where to start. Life cycle analysis not only seemed a daunting (and expensive) task, it required a tangible design before it could be used. Designers found themselves looking to engineers to choose materials that made their designs more eco-friendly and engineers looked to designers to conceptualize more inherently sustainable designs, but this chicken and egg game was leading nowhere. This stalemate gave us an idea: let’s give designers and engineers a sustainability guide for everyday use that not only gave them topics to discuss, but provided the beginnings of a roadmap to sustainable design. And thus was born The Designer’s Field Guide to Sustainability.

A quick note about the guide: None of these tips is a turn-key solution. They are very complex issues that often warrant added thought and discussion. Together, they provide a good start, and can help form a checklist of considerations to take along the design path to ensure that no sustainable opportunity has fallen through the cracks. Reviewed often, they can help us to make sustainability a fundamental part of our design and engineering processes.

Feel free to post thoughts, examples, criticisms or advice right here, or at, All input will be collected and considered when LUNAR publishes version 2.0.