Focus Area Lead

Mark Swihart.

Mark Swihart

UB Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, Empire Innovation Professor

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Conceptual overview of research.

Conceptual overview of research

Sub-Area: Green Products and the Green Economy

From a research perspective, the goal of a greener economy to achieve economic sustainability – which in turn needs to the goals of social sustainability and environmental sustainability – calls for simultaneous focus on “greening” of the three key sides of any modern economic system – viz., its supply, demand, and governance sides. So, the overall scope of the proposed research program on advancing a greener economy can be conceptualized as in Figure 1. It recognizes that the paths to our economic sustainability goal will not emerge from the “hard technology” approaches from natural/applied sciences alone, but also through the “soft technology” approaches from social sciences. It will be the synergistic combination of both approaches that will drive the market outcomes with respect to our consumption, production and governance practices to be more aligned with a greener economy. For instance, designing and developing a “green” product that can be viable in the marketplace will need a comprehensive approach that integrates both the natural/applied sciences of functional design and energy technologies with the social sciences of consumers’ attitudes and behaviors with respect to their product preference, willingness to pay, usage and disposal, and how such behaviors can be “nudged” through formal and informal regulations like environmental laws and urban planning codes. So, from both conceptual and practical perspectives, a critical imperative for the proposed research program will be to have a strong interdisciplinary collaborative approach between natural/applied scientists and social scientists, who have traditionally specialized in only one of the three sides – supply, demand, or governance – of our economic system.

The design, development and marketing of green products that emphasize extending the product lifespan and closing the product lifecycle loop through promoting recovery activities such as reuse, remanufacture, refurbish and recycling. This research focal area is aligned with the recent global initiative by major developed economies to work towards creating a “circular economy (that) is a competitive resource-efficient industrial economy, in which more products are made out of secondary raw materials, waste is considered a valuable resource, and innovative business models retain physical goods longer and more efficiently in productive use [European Commission, 2015].” A key intellectual merit of our research initiatives in this area will be a strong inter-disciplinary approach that integrates relevant important insights from the disciplinary domains of consumer behavior and business strategy (School of Management) and of market governance through formal/informal regulations (Law School) with those from the traditional lead disciplinary domain of industrial/mechanical engineering (SEAS). 

Affiliated faculty related to design, development and marketing of green products:  S. Behdad (ME, ISE), E. Meidinger (Law), D. Talukdar (SOM), A. Anas (ECO), K. Friedman (UBRI, SA&P), A. Lakshmanan (SOM) and K. Lewis (ME).

Debu Talukdar.

Sub-Area Lead: Debu Talukdar