Investigating effects of group model building on sustainable design decision-making 

Investigating effects of group model building on sustainable design decision-making 


This research seeks to investigate the effects of a Group Model Building approach on the sustainability knowledge base prior to the weighting of design requirements. Current practice shows that the knowledge about sustainability impacts and implications on other design objectives often is limited and dispersed among decision-makers. Including sustainability criteria in needs and requirements, therefore, tend to rely on limited knowledge and decision-support, leading to decision-makers often prioritizing design objectives that they are more experienced with. The aim of this research was to capture and discuss effects on team alignment of contextual sustainability understanding from co-modeling impacts and implications of sustainability on other design objectives. The research question guiding the study is ‘what are the effects of a group model building approach on early sustainability design decisions?’. A mixed-methods research, structured according to four assumptions, was designed to analyze effects quantitatively and qualitatively. The assumptions were that the proposed approach helps design teams foster an improved contextual sustainability understanding, align the view of the relative importance of sustainability, identify suitable sustainability improvement, and increase the knowledge maturity of their design decisions. The results triangulation showed that the participants showed signs of improved sustainability understanding of their design projects and that improvement actions were identified from applying the approach. A statistically relevant converging effect could be found on the team alignment of the weighting of sustainability criteria but not on the knowledge maturity. These findings are discussed to conclude on main contributions, limitations, and areas for future work.


Sustainable product development, Group model building, Decision-making effects, System analysis, Sustainable design support


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