The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has published Sustainable Materials Selection in Manufacturing: A Framework for Design-Integrated Life Cycle Thinking, co-authored by DOE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Energetics.
The report investigates the opportunity to reduce a manufactured product’s environmental impact using eco-friendly materials. The report builds on the groundwork of the DOE Manufacturing Energy Bandwidth Studies, which Energetics has been supporting since their introduction in 2013. These studies analyze energy use and the potential for energy savings in various processes for selected manufacturing sectors. The Sustainable Materials Selection approach introduced additional data and methods that allowed for a holistic life cycle analysis, considering all aspects and stages of material production. The result is a generalized methodology to objectively compare materials on the basis of environmental performance in an applied context. The report illustrates this methodology through three material selection case studies: residential insulation, shipping pallet, and automotive B-pillar.