This article proposes methodologies and applications for sustainability solutions through usability. Usability and sustainability are defined in the context of human factors and ergonomics. Economic, social and ecological considerations form the basis for the three leg platform for sustainable development. A return to fundamentals in human factors, ergonomics and industrial and operations engineering can provide insight into effective implementation of sustainability solutions. Principles such as learning curves and economies of scale are highlighted in the context of sustainable energy. It is also suggested that exposure-response curves can be derived using Bayesian networks, giving insight into potential causal effects in existing ecotoxicology data. Ergonomists have used these tools in the past to evaluate performance of other engineering implementations while toxicology can initially provide some common basis for the historical and modern view of ergonomics in the context of sustainability. Sustainability can benefit from such tools that can evaluate potential interventions under uncertainty. From other engineering literature it appears that technical solutions are already available to support sustainability, while the lag may be occurring in coordinating the social, organizational and cultural response. Lessons learned in human factors and ergonomics can support sustainability related interventions building on experience in human-system interface design and visualizations that have been an integral part of the digital human modeling community especially over the last two decades.


Usability Sustainability Design Visualizations Digital Human Modeling Green Chemistry Risk Management Health and Safety 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent G. Duffy
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Industrial Engineering, School of Agriculture and Biological Engineering, Center for EnvironmentPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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