What does it mean for an engineering design to be sustainable? What is the body of knowledge needed for the design of sustainable engineered systems? Design tools that allow engineers to choose inherently safer chemicals, improve energy efficiency, improve mass efficiency, and reduce emissions and exposures are certainly part of an emerging tool set engineers will need for sustainable designs. However, these are not entirely new tools for engineers. Energy and mass efficiency are objectives that have always been included in engineering design. What is new is the need to systematically and simultaneously incorporate economic, environmental and social objectives into engineering designs, at multiple scales. These tools and skills will be increasingly important, and challenging to apply, as engineers operate in diverse global environments, with varying social perspectives and environmental priorities.
Over the past decade, sustainability concepts, and tools for sustainable engineering, have begun appearing in engineering curricula in the United States. In this presentation, current practices for incorporating sustainability into engineering education will be reviewed, and categorized into an emergent body of knowledge. Best practices and tools for presenting this body of knowledge will be summarized and new AIChE initiatives will be described.