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Engineering Sustainability: A Technical Approach to Sustainability


  • Marc A. Rosen

    () (Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, Ontario, L1H 7K4, Canada)


Sustainability is a critically important goal for human activity and development. Sustainability in the area of engineering is of great importance to any plans for overall sustainability given 1) the pervasiveness of engineering activities in societies, 2) their importance in economic development and living standards, and 3) the significant impacts that engineering processes and systems have had, and continue to have, on the environment. Many factors that need to be considered and appropriately addressed in moving towards engineering sustainability are examined in this article. These include appropriate selection of resources bearing in mind sustainability criteria, the use of sustainable engineering processes, enhancement of the efficiency of engineering processes and resource use, and a holistic adoption of environmental stewardship in engineering activities. In addition, other key sustainability measures are addressed, such as economics, equity, land use, lifestyle, sociopolitical factors and population. Conclusions are provided related both to pathways for engineering sustainability and to the broader ultimate objective of sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc A. Rosen, 2012. "Engineering Sustainability: A Technical Approach to Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(9), pages 1-23, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:9:p:2270-2292:d:20151

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Penner, S.S., 2006. "Steps toward the hydrogen economy," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 33-43.
    2. Hennicke, Peter & Fischedick, Manfred, 2006. "Towards sustainable energy systems: The related role of hydrogen," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 1260-1270, July.
    3. Haberl, Helmut, 2006. "The global socioeconomic energetic metabolism as a sustainability problem," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 87-99.
    4. William T O’Brien & Christopher A Kennedy & Andreas K Athienitis & Ted J Kesik, 2010. "The relationship between net energy use and the urban density of solar buildings," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 37(6), pages 1002-1021, November.
    5. Rosen, Marc A. & Dincer, Ibrahim & Kanoglu, Mehmet, 2008. "Role of exergy in increasing efficiency and sustainability and reducing environmental impact," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 128-137, January.
    6. Lior, Noam, 2008. "Energy resources and use: The present situation and possible paths to the future," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 842-857.
    7. M.A. Rosen, 2002. "Energy efficiency and sustainable development," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 17(1/2), pages 23-34.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:joinma:v:28:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10845-015-1051-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:gam:jeners:v:11:y:2018:i:2:p:432-:d:131888 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kai Ding & Pingyu Jiang & Mei Zheng, 0. "Environmental and economic sustainability-aware resource service scheduling for industrial product service systems," Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-14.

    More about this item


    engineering; engineering sustainability; sustainable development; resources; environmental impact; efficiency; processes; economics;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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