CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering

2019 Edition
| Editors: Sami Chatti, Luc Laperrière, Gunther Reinhart, Tullio Tolio


  • Andreas Moltesen
  • Michael Z HauschildEmail author
  • David Dornfeld
  • Sami Kara
Reference work entry



Basically, “sustainable” means – as the word implies – that something can be sustained, i.e., continued at that level, in principle indefinitely. Sustainability has many synonyms, such as durability and viability. In the environmental debate, sustainability is often used interchangeably with the term “sustainable development” even though they are two different concepts. For example, Waas et al. (2011) mention that some scholars assert that the term “sustainable development” is primarily about development/economic growth, whereas sustainability gives priority to the environment. Reid (1995) and Martin (2008) argue that the difference is rather that sustainable development should be seen as the process or journey to achieving sustainability which then according to Graedel and Howard-Grenville is an absolute concept “…as are pregnant and unique, to use two common examples. A sustainable world is not one that is slightly more environmentally...

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Copyright information

© CIRP 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Moltesen
    • 1
  • Michael Z Hauschild
    • 2
    Email author
  • David Dornfeld
    • 3
  • Sami Kara
    • 4
  1. 1.Danish Energy AgencyCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Management Engineering, Division of Quantitative Sustainability AssessmentTechnical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaBerkleyUSA
  4. 4.School of Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Wim Dewulf
    • 1
  1. 1.Science, Engineering and Technology GroupKU Leuwen, Department of Mechanical EngineeringLeuvenBelgium