Circular Economy

A circular economy (CE) aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption by cycling products and materials back into production, either by returning materials to generate new products, or by releasing benign substances to the environment through degradation. Circularity can be embedded into products during the design phase, but such a transformation would require fundamental shifts in the way resources are extracted, products are designed, and businesses and consumers are engaged for reuse and recycling, along with a concurrent deployment of supporting energy, mobility, and end-of-life management infrastructure. Such a transformation would… Read More

Closing Resource Loops

Closing resource loops involves either creating products and components that can be easily and safely absorbed by the biosphere, or creating items that while they cannot be released to the ecosystem, can be easily recycled to high-value uses. As such, closing loops involves (a) Design for a biological cycle, (b) Design for a technological cycle, (c) Design for disassembly and reassembly.  We address closing resource loops and design for disassembly by addressing the technical and scientific challenge of how we formulate, produce, and use material resources to reduce consumption and its environmental… Read More

Slowing Resource Loops

Design for slowing resource loops includes design for longer-life and product life extension. In design for longer life, one aims to create more robust products with longer viable service lives, while also creating designs to which consumers become emotionally attached. Product life extension can be achieved through several strategies: (a) Design for ease of maintenance and repair, (b) Design for upgradability and adaptability, (c) Design for standardization and compatibility, and (d) Design for dis- and re-assembly (see figure below). ‚Äč We address slowing resource loops through design for standardization and enabling a… Read More

Engaging Stakeholders

We view stakeholders not just as subjects, but as key partners in the co-production of knowledge. The goal of this work is to gather qualitative insights into the motivations and barriers that shape the adoption of circular economic policies and practices.  We also aim to better understand the logics and power dynamics that underpin circular economy. This approach is based on significant research suggesting that stakeholder-engaged research has benefits, including enhanced perceptions of research credibility and legitimacy leading to greater uptake of research results in decision making processes. During our engagement process… Read More

Convergence Research

By deeply integrating diverse disciplines, research converges upon solutions to complex challenges facing society today. Convergence can be difficult to achieve, given current cultural and institutional roadblocks that have created the silos of disciplinary structures. Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) provides a framework to re-conceptualize knowledge-producing organizations whose desired outcomes are learning, adaptability, and innovation. Instead of focusing on individual behaviors, CLT focuses on the interactive dynamics of the collective. Guided by the CLT framework and led by our co-PI Gemma Jiang, we are implementing complexity-sensitive developmental evaluation (DE) methodologies. We are exploring… Read More

Design for Circular Economy from Molecules to the Built Environment Workshop

A Workshop to create a research agenda while fostering and catalyzing circular economy design in the US, from molecules to the built environment. For the final workshop report, please follow this link. Overview Circular economy (CE) aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption by cycling products and materials back into production, either by returning materials to generate new products, or by releasing benign substances to the environment through degradation. A truly circular economy keeps material in continuous use by design. The overall adoption of CE principles has been incremental at best… Read More