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EE15.2.01 - Sustainability Assessments of "Sustainable" Technologies: Lighting, Thin-Film Solar Cells and Recycling of Consumer Electronics 
March 29, 2016   3:15pm - 3:45pm

Significant efforts have been made to advance technologies that provide a reduction in the energy demands of consumers. For instance, bulbs made with light emitting diodes (LEDs) have been demonstrated to last longer and save substantial energy when compare to conventional incandescent lighting. Thin film solar cells provide improved efficiencies over conventional silicon based technologies, both of which offer energy from renewable sources rather than from fossil fuels. In the consumer electronics arena, recycling at end-of-life has become essential to recover valuable materials and ensure proper disposal of toxic substances. Yet all of these technologies, thought to be advancing the state of the art in sustainable design require the utilization of resources (materials and energy) and create potential environmental impacts (both human and ecological), as do all product fabrication processes. This paper will review a series of case studies on these technologies highlighting the various types of impacts associated with them, in an effort to guide future development of sustainable technologies such that they require less resource input, generate less environmental impact and/or use fewer toxic substances.

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