Fraunhofer IPK

Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology

Sustainability and Energy Efficiency


Less than one billion people now consume over four fifths of the world’s raw materials. Given that the world’s total population is seven billion people, such a major imbalance represents a serious threat to peaceful coexistence on the planet. What is needed here are improvements in global well-being and health which can be brought about by nurturing a common understanding of teaching and learning for the global community. And this has made sustainability both an urgently needed prerequisite and a challenge for the future development and survival of the human race on earth. In this context sustainability is interpreted in terms of its ecological, economic and social dimensions – because if the existing dominant forms of technology continue to shape the behavior and lifestyles of developing and developed communities, it can be safely assumed that consumption of resources will exceed all ecological, economic and social restraints.

The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1026 researches the impact of sustainability on production techniques and technology across various scientific levels. CRC 1026 is structured in three different project areas: a) strategic; b) technological and c) implementational which all play a key part in sustainable production. The research community is also engaged in an IT infrastructure project, a project for raising public awareness and a postgraduate college. Subproject B1 – Virtual Product Creation in Sustainable Value Added Networks holds a special place among the subprojects as it is the only subproject run by CRC 1026 that investigates the product creation of sustainable products. To ensure the global operability of such products, product development must be based on an anticipatory approach that factors in every stage in the product lifecycle. However, this calls for the collection and evaluation of a vast amount of data which makes product development even more complex than it already is. The subproject is developing an Assistance System to help developers in their decisions on sustainable design by providing them with the right kind of information. Such new methodological approaches can make products more ecologically friendly by using renewable raw materials and can aid in making them more socially compatible in use by taking early account of ergonomic aspects while their modular structure means that they can be rapidly tailored to adapt to different conditions of life in different regions of the world.

The overarching aim of CRC 1026 is to demonstrate the viability of sustainable production embedded in global value creation as the right direction to be followed. This means that from the ecological standpoint non-renewable raw materials need to be recycled and reintroduced into product and material cycles, while in economic terms greater prosperity can be achieved in various life worlds by linkage of the availability of a product with a particular service.

One of the issues for future research is to find out which of the technologies and methods applied in the real world bring the greatest benefits. To this end, an EU-wide research funding program needs to be established. A dedicated EU funded research project called REViSITE (Roadmap Enabling Vision and Strategy in ICT-Enabled Energy Efficiency) has already been set up to identify the need for research. It defines and recommends the terms for the calls for tender under which future EU research projects shall operate with a particular focus on electricity grids, production technology, buildings and lighting.

For all enquiries about Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, contact Dipl.-Ing. Kai Lindow at the Virtual Product Creation division.